(11:1) Integrity In Business
(Prov 11:1 NIV) The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts those who use honest scales with those who use scales that have been altered to give the possessor of the scales an advantage. To understand what this means to us today we must understand what the scales were used for. In Biblical times the two main sources of income were flocks and fields. Most men were either farmers (working the fields) or herdsmen (working with animals); some did both. Scales were used – and still used today – in the marketplace. Customers paid for items based upon their weight. So in this type of business, the scale is a key factor, determining how much customers pay. It was a common practice for unscrupulous vendors to altar their scales, so that the customer would pay more for an item than they should, giving the vendor an unfair advantage and an ill-gotten profit. In Deuteronomy the Lord told the Israelites to avoid this practice, saying: “Don’t try to cheat people by having two sets of weights or measures, one to get more when you are buying, and the other to give less when you are selling” (25:13,14). The Lord’s point was that the Israelites – and we, as believers – should not participate in the unrighteous practices of the world. There should be something different about us. People should know us as honest, industrious, and hard-working men and women of integrity. Once your integrity is in question, most people of integrity will make every attempt to avoid doing business with you.
Look at the language Solomon uses. He does not mince words; making it clear that the Lord is vehemently against dishonesty in the marketplace. Other translations of this text use the words “hates” and “detest.” The Message Bible translation of this verse makes is plain, saying, “GOD hates cheating in the marketplace; he loves it when business is aboveboard.” Later on in Proverbs Solomon says, “GOD cares about honesty in the workplace; your business is his business” (16:11 MSG). Think about that for a moment. Many don’t make the connection between the Lord and their business. They see God as someone who they interact with at church, on Sundays, but not daily or throughout the week. That is a major problem, because either He is LORD OF ALL or He is not LORD AT ALL! Your family is His business, your health is His business, your overall wellbeing (mind, body and soul) is His business, and your business is His business. We don’t serve a God that expects to only interact with us at church. As a matter of fact, what we do at church should be just a small part of our relationship with Him. We should not do anything at church that we are not routinely doing at home. We should sing to Him, worship Him, pray to Him, and commune with Him daily! That way He is involved in every area of our lives. When we walk with Him daily, when we get Him involved in our daily affairs, when He alone sits on the throne of our lives, then it is hard for us to be deceitful in business. If you are walking with Him, speaking to Him, hearing from Him, and receiving His guidance, then how can you steal from others? If sin doesn’t bother you, then there is something wrong. The closer you get to God, the more you develop a distaste for the unrighteous.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should be honest in business and in every area of your life. Never violate your integrity, especially not for money. Whatever you compromise to gain, you will wind up losing in the end. So do what’s right, because it’s right, and then seek to do it right – everyday! Walk upright before God and man and you will be able to walk with God with a clear conscious and clean hands.
Confession for Today: Father, I know that You desire to be part of every area of my life and I declare that I welcome You to do so. I want You involved in my family, my friends, my relationships, and my business. As I walk with You daily and You walk with me, I develop a hunger and a thirst for righteous. I also develop a distaste for the unrighteous. I shall be known as a person of integrity. I walk upright before You and man in business and because of it, I know that You will bless the work of my hands! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
(11:2) Pride vs. Humility
(Prov 11:2 NIrV) When pride comes, shame follows. But wisdom comes to those who are not proud.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts those who are prideful with those who are humble. Actually, the Bible has a great deal to say about pride. The Lord is firmly against pride. Webster says that pride is: inordinate self-esteem; possessing an excessively high opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, or superiority. While I often say that it is a sad commentary for a Christian to have low self-esteem, it is also not God’s will that we have an inflated opinion of ourselves either. There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance and even the best of us cross that line from time to time. Being humble doesn’t mean that you lack confidence. I like to say that humility is controlled confidence; it is confidence pointed in the right direction. When you walk with God you should be completely confident in what He can do and in what He has blessed you to do. Your relationship with the Father can enable you to be bold and humble at the same time. This way you avoid pride, because pride focuses its confidence in self, while humility focuses its confidence in God and the abilities that He has blessed us to possess.
Pride is a weapon of our enemy. As a matter of fact, it is one of his three major weapons. Satan’s “Big Three” are: 1) the lust of the flesh, 2) the lust of the eyes, and 3) the pride of life (1st John 2:16). The enemy uses these three primary tactics over and over again. And that sad part is that they work on believers over and over again. We must be wary of all three, but for this morning we will continue to focus on pride. Later in Proverbs Solomon said, “Pride goes before destruction… ” (16:18). When you get puffed up, when you have an excessively high opinion of yourself, when you put yourself on the throne of your life, instead of God, then it will only be a matter of time before you fall. This is what happened to satan. He operated in pride and it got him kicked out of heaven. Isaiah talks about it in the 14th chapter of his book: “Satan said, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (14:13,14). What do you see in those two verses? Satan had an excessively high opinion of himself and it got him in trouble.
Our text tells us that wisdom comes to those who are not proud. Another translation says, “Wisdom is with the humble.” It’s wise – especially as a believer – to walk in humility. Jesus said, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Mat 23:12). So which would you rather have? Would you like to exalt yourself, so that God would have to humble you? Or would you rather humble yourself and allow God to exalt you?
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a choice. You can either humble yourself or you can be humbled. Believe me, humbling yourself is much better. I will close with the words of Peter. He said, “Humble yours elves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time” (1st Peter 5:6).
Confession for this day: Father, I thank You for Your Word. Your Word teaches me to avoid pride. I know that pride comes before destruction. Therefore, I declare, by faith, that I walk in humility today and all the days of my life. I resist the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. You don’t have to humble me. I humble myself under Your mighty hand and I know that You will life me up in Your timing. Use me today Father, as I seek to be a humble, committed, and submitted servant. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
(11:3) Integrity or Duplicity?
(Prov 11:3 NIV) The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts the integrity of the upright with the duplicity of the unfaithful. As I prayed over this text I sat for a while asking God which way He wanted me to go. There is so much I can say about this text. There is so much that God has said in His Word about integrity, about being faithful, and about the faith-failures that duplicity (or double mindedness) can cause.
Let’s talk about duplicity first. Webster defines duplicity as: contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action. This is a person that says one thing in the morning, but then something else it the afternoon. This person is constantly wavering. There are two categories of people who live this way: 1) those that are trying to do right, but are struggling to stay on course; and 2) those that are seeking to be deceitful. The latter purposefully mislead people and believe me, they will reap what they sow. But there is also a warning here for the former – for those that don’t necessarily speak contradictory on purpose, but who struggle to stay on course. There is even a danger here for them. They speak faith in the morning (in prayer), but they then speak fear, doubt, and unbelief all day long. They are double minded and their double mindedness will keep them from God’s best. James teaches on this in the first chapter of his letter. He tells us that people that live this way are like waves of the sea. They are up today and down tomorrow, up this week and down next week, maybe even up this morning and down this afternoon. James said, “A man like that shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. He can’t make up his mind. He can never decide what to do” (1:7,8 NIrV). I often quote these verses when teaching on faith. We are called to live by faith, but to do so we must remain in faith in the space between our prayer and the completion of it. We shouldn’t allow duplicity, double mindedness, or wavering to keep us in a cycle of fluctuation between faith and fear, belief and doubt, expectation and discouragement.
The other half of this verse deals with the person of integrity. Their spirit, soul, and body are fully integrated. They say what they mean and they mean what they say. They have won – and ARE (actively) winning – the inner struggle between faith and fear. They know that they are new creatures (2 Cor 5:7) in Christ and they seek, with their whole heart, to live as such. They make every effort to renew their minds (Rom 12:1,2), so that they can conquer the temptations of the old nature and walk in the purity of their new nature in Christ. In Paul’s letter to the church at Rome he vividly explained the struggle between the old and new natures in the seventh chapter (see 7:14-25). But in the eight chapter he tells us that we can win the struggle, that we can walk in the newness of life, that we can be faithful, and that we can do it through the power of the Holy Spirit. He said, “The Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you… Our duty is not to live under the control of our sinful nature… Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God” (8:11-14).
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a choice. You can either be the unfaithful or the faithful. You can either walk in duplicity or integrity. You can either be the person who lives like a wave of the sea (wavering) or the person who is like a rock! Take it from me; living in integrity is much better. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and direct you today; and as He does, trust Him. Be led of the Spirit with bulldog-tenacity! Walk by faith and don’t waiver. Don’t allow fear, doubt or unbelief to get you off course!
Confession for this day: Father, I declare, right now, by faith, that I am a person of integrity. I am fully integrated. My spirit, soul and body are in line with each other. I am led of Your Spirit in all ways. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I pray in faith, without a doubt at all, and I remain in faith until I see what I prayed. I refuse to be a person of duplicity. I am a person of integrity and my faithfulness opens the door to Your best in my life! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
(11:4) Riches vs. Righteousness on the Day of Judgment
(Prov 11:4 AMP) Riches provide no security in any day of wrath and judgment, but righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God) delivers from death.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts the importance of riches with that of righteousness in the Day of Judgment. Remember, Solomon’s perspective was that of the Old Testament. He was a King and he had a clear understanding of the importance of the role of Israel’s leader. If you read through 1st and 2nd Chronicles and 1st and 2nd Kings you will see how the nation of Israel experienced their share of ups and downs. Whenever they had a righteous leader (a King of a Judge), the nation would prosper. Whenever they had an unrighteous leader, the nation would suffer. It all hinged upon the time of judgment. Judgment is a bad thing for the unrighteous, but a good thing for the righteous. The word judgment causes the unrighteous to shirk, whereas the righteous get excited about receiving their reward. It’s not that Jehovah did not judge the nation of Israel during the times of righteous leaders; it was quite the contrary. It was because He judged them righteous that the nation prospered! Let me put it in modern military terms. Here in Iraq we have a weigh-in every month. As service members we are expected to meet certain height/weight standards. Now, the food here is good and plenteous. Soldiers must exercise discipline when choosing their meals and maintain a routine of physical exercise if they are to maintain the height/weight standards. When weigh-in day comes, we all have to step upon the scales. Some walk away from the scales with a smile on their face and others don’t. What seems like judgment to some is a rewarding experience to others.
Let’s fast-forward to the New Testament. We no longer have Kings or Judges, but judgment still takes place. There is the common judgment, that takes place all the time, where the Lord judges our actions and ensures that we reap whatever we sow. If we have been sowing good seed, we reap a good harvest. If not, we don’t. There is no way around it. But ultimately there will be one great Judgment Day. Two major judgments will take place. The first one will be to check whether or not our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (see Rev 20). Only the names of the righteous are written there and the only way to become righteous – by this standard – is to accept Jesus the Christ as Lord (Rom 10:9,10,13). Paul said, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2nd Cor 5:21). When we accept Jesus as our Lord we become righteous in Him. It’s not that we are righteous in and of ourselves. No! He makes us righteous. The Father declares us righteous through the Blood of Jesus. The second judgment will be for our works. The Father will judge what we did with the life that He gave us. Paul tells us that our works will basically fall into one of six categories: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw. Our works will be judged by fire and all those in the wood, hay, and straw categories will burn up. Only the ones in the gold, silver, and precious stones categories will endure the fire. Those are the works that we did that had eternal significance (see 1st Cor 3:9-15).
So what does this mean to you today? It means that money has nothing to do with the Day of Judgment. Money has its place. It is God’s will that we finance the Kingdom, that we be financially secure, and that we leave and inheritance for our children’s children (Prov 13:22); but on the Day of Judgment the size of our bank account will not be a factor. You can’t buy righteousness. Your righteousness was paid for – IN FULL – with the Blood of Jesus. On that day that all that will really matter is whether or not you have been MADE righteous in Him and what you did with the life that He gave you!
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for blessing me to hear, understand, and respond to the Gospel message of Jesus the Christ. I have been made righteous in Him. I am the righteous of God in Christ and I know that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. What I seek to do now is to BE a blessing. I enter this day determined to do things that are of eternal significance. Lead me Father to works that will endure the fire! Use me to make a difference in someone else’ life today! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
(11:5,6) Godly Character
(Prov 11:5,6 MSG) Moral character makes for smooth traveling; an evil life is a hard life. Good character is the best insurance; crooks get trapped in their sinful lust.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this passage Solomon, once again, contrasts the life of the Godly with the life of the ungodly. The purpose of these contrasts is to show us a better way. The reason the Father goes to these great lengths – verse, after verse, after verse of contrasts – is to drive home the point that we have a choice. There are two options. We can either live with God or without Him. We can choose to accept or reject Jesus. We can choose to allow Jesus sit on the throne in our lives or we can sit there and guide our own life by our own counsel. But just remember the Words of Paul, “Don’t be misled — you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant” (Gal 6:7).
These two verses flow in the same vein as verse three, where Solomon said, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” When the Holy Spirit guides us, when we walk in integrity, when we apply God’s truth to every aspect of our lives, it makes for smooth traveling. The ways of God are clear and safe. Now, does that mean that we will be free from challenges? Of course not, but what it does mean is that we will not get ourselves into unnecessary trouble. There is a difference between facing a challenge and reaping a harvest. Solomon says that the evil life is a hard life, because in addition to facing the challenges that we all face, the wicked also have to reap the continuous harvest from the unrighteous seeds they sow every day. You and I, as believers, should be walking in the counsel of God and thereby sowing seeds of righteousness. So we might face our occasional challenge – because we do have an enemy, don’t forget that – but we won’t add to the challenges with unrighteous seed. Actually, as we sow seeds of righteousness, on a daily basis, we set ourselves up to reap a continual harvest of godliness. So even when we do face challenges, we have the added benefit of God’s grace, mercy, favor, and divine harvest. With all of that going FOR us, then we are more than empowered to face whatever comes AGAINST us!
In the sixth verse Solomon tells us that good character is the best insurance. While the ways of the wicked open them up to destruction, the ways of God provide us holy security! The more we walk with the Father, the more we learn to hear the voice of the Spirit, the more we apply His wisdom to our lives, the more we transform our thinking to line up with his thinking, the more we will develop our character into Godly character. Once our character is developed into Godly character, it becomes our insurance. It will protect us from sowing the wrong seed and thereby keeping us from reaping the wrong harvest.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that the Kingdom of God operates by the principle of sowing and reaping. If you don’t like the harvest you are reaping, then it is time to check the seed you are sowing. Insure you are doing all you can to develop in Godly character. As you develop in God, as you learn His ways, as you transform your old thinking (by the Word of God) into Godly thinking, and as you learn to make decisions that line up with His desire for your life, you will be developing your character into a Godly character. Living your life His way makes for smooth traveling. The alternative is a hard life! Jesus came that you would have and enjoy life (John 10:10). So determine to sow the right seed, so you can reap the right harvest!
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for providing me Godly counsel, for sending me people that can teach me Your Word, and for teaching me, personally, every time I open Your Word. Your Word is the rule for my life. Your Spirit is my guide. I declare, by faith, that I learn to apply Your Word, to think like You want me to think, to feel the ways that You want me to feel, and to make the decisions that You want me to make. As I do, I am developing Godly character and it will make for smooth traveling through life! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
(11:7) Eternal Hope!
(Prov 11:7 BBE) At the death of an upright man his hope does not come to an end, but the hope of the evil-doer comes to destruction.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts the hope of the righteous (the upright) with the hope of the ungodly (the evil-doer). If you have been reading Today’s Word for a while you know that I teach a great deal on hope. As a believer, we are called to live by faith and our faith is birthed from our hope. Our hope is birthed from our relationship with the Father. You and I, as believers, have a hope that springs eternal.
In Romans 15:4 Paul said, “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” Paul tells us that the scriptures of old were documented for us so that we could have hope and encouragement while we patiently wait for the manifestation of God’s promises in our lives. When we read about what God did for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Daniel, Peter, James, John, Paul, and etc., it should give us hope. We serve a God that does not play favorites. He honors faith. Just like He responded to the faith of others, He will respond to our faith. The expectation of His manifestation is the source of our hope. In the 13th verse Paul of this same chapter Paul aptly called God, “The God of Hope.” That is an awesome name for our God and a sure reminder that our relationship with Him should be a source of hope. In that same verse Paul told us that this God of Hope can fill us with all Joy and Peace in believing. I taught an entire series from that verse (15:13). In that series we learned that since we serve the “God of Hope” that we should have the excitement that comes from Joy and the stability that comes from Peace, while we wait on Him. Paul went on to say that we can literally, “Abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Hope is a great blessing and it is what helps many of us as we face the challenges that we do. We have hope for the future. Now, the argument can be made that the ungodly have hope too. And that is true, but their hope is not birthed from God and therefore, their hope is NOT eternal. To illustrate this point let’s look at a story that Jesus told in Luke chapter 16. It is the story of the rich man and Lazarus. In this story there was a certain rich man who lived in luxury every day. A beggar named Lazarus sat at his gates. The rich man never paid any attention to Lazarus. He simply went on with his life. Lazarus would have been content to eat the leftovers from the rich man’s house, but the rich man did not show him any mercy. Although Jesus did not say it, I am sure that the rich man had hope and plans for his future, as did Lazarus. They both had hope, but when they died only the hope of one of them lived on. Jesus went on to teach that after death Lazarus went to Abraham’s bosom and the rich man went to hell. While Lazarus was enjoying his time with Father Abraham the rich man called out to Abraham and said, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” But Abraham replied, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony” (see Luke 16:20-25).
So what does this mean to you today? It means that the hope of the ungodly goes no further than the grave, but the hope of the righteous lasts forever. So as you enter this day remember that our God is the God of Hope! And the Hope that you receive, as a by-product of your relationship with Him, will never die!
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for an eternal/everlasting hope. You are the God of Hope in my life. My relationship with You gives me a hope that will never die. You birth dreams and aspirations in my life that are worthy of pursuit. I am never hopeless, because IN YOU I am never helpless! You are in me, on me, with me, and for me! My hope is in You and I shall not be disappointed! I enter this day with great expectations! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
(11:8) You CAN Make it!
(Prov 11:8 MSG) A good person is saved from much trouble; a bad person runs straight into it.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts the believer’s and unbeliever’s interaction with trouble. Let’s look at some of the differences:
1. God is WITH US as we face the challenges: Now, let me say up front that we all face challenges in life. Jesus Himself said, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world” (John 16:33 MSG). Did you catch that? Although Jesus did acknowledge the fact that we will experience difficulties, He also said that if we trust Him we will be unshakable, assured, and deeply at peace as we face them. Therein lies the difference between the believer and the unbeliever. We face the challenges with God – with the assurance that He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Heb 13:5) – while they face the challenges by themselves. We can face every challenge head-on, because we know that the Father is WITH US every step of the way. I like to say, “With God we are never hopeless, because with God we are never helpless!”
2. We face the challenges IN FAITH: As believers we are called and commanded to live by faith (Hab 2:4, Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38). This means that we should enter every day with complete confidence in God and in His Word. We trust that He will manifest Himself in our lives daily and we also realize that our faith will be tested. James said, “The testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:3 NIV). Peter said, “Dear brothers, do not be surprised, as if it was something strange, if your faith is tested as by fire” (1st Peter 4:12 BBE). So we don’t get surprised when a challenge arises. We face the challenge head-on, determined to trouble our trouble BY FAITH; fully expecting to come out on top! Unbelievers do not have this confidence.
3. God will not ALLOW us to be pushed PAST our limit: In our focus text Solomon told us that a good person (a person walking with God) is saved from much trouble. Why? Because God knows how much is too much and He will intervene before we get to our breaking point. Paul said, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” (1st Cor 10:13 MSG). Personally, this truth is a well of encouragement for me. I remind myself of this verse whenever I face a challenge and I tell myself, “God is trusting me with this. He believes I can take this and since He does, I believe it too. With God I will come out on top!”
So what does this mean to you today? I pray this lesson serves as a source of encouragement to you. Here in Iraq, people are hurting. They miss their families, they are in a war zone, and stress can take its burden. Back at home people are struggling with the economy and a seemingly uncertain future. As a preacher I deal with hurting people all the time and I pray that if you are hurting this morning that this message serves as a reminder to you that YOU CAN MAKE IT! If you are facing it, then you can handle it. God is with you and He will never leave you. He won’t allow you to be pushed past your limit! Face this day head-on, IN FAITH!
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for reminding me this morning that I CAN make it! I enter this day with fearless confidence. I know that You are in me, on me, with me, and for me! You will never leave me nor forsake me. You will never allow me to be pushed past my limit. If I am facing it, then I can take it, and I declare by faith that I will. I am an overcomer and I will come over every challenge! I trouble my trouble BY FAITH! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
(11:9) Will you use your Mouth for Destruction or Construction?
(Prov 11:9 KJV) An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts the mouth of the hypocrite with the knowledge of the just. On the surface there does not seem to be a connection between the two. What does the mouth of one have to do with the knowledge of another? Well, our knowledge is stored in our mind. I know very well the connection between our mouth and our mind. As believers, we should seek to master both our mouth and mind, so that our methods (our actions) would be pleasing to the Father. This is all clearly laid out in Joshua 1:8. In the first chapter of the book of Joshua the Lord is seeking to prepare Joshua to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. The Father knows that they will face many battles as they seek to do His will. The success or failure of the nation rests upon the shoulders of Joshua. God knew that Joshua needed exceptional leadership to accomplish all that He desired of him, so He gave Joshua what I call His formula for success. The Lord said: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8). Joshua was to keep the Word on his lips (to master his mouth), he was to meditate on the Word day and night (to master his mind), and he was to carefully DO all that is written therein (mastering his methods). Joshua had to keep the Word on his lips. To do so, however, it would require keeping the Word on his mind. If he could accomplish those two – keeping the Word on his mind and in his mouth – he would be well equipped to turn the corner from information to application and actually DO what it says. This would be Joshua’s formula for success and it can be ours as well.
Solomon tells us that the knowledge (or the mind) of the just shall deliver him. Simply put, as believers, you and I should know better than to operate in hypocrisy and slander. Not only is it not Godly to smile in someone’s face and then talk about them behind their back; or to seek to defame, deface and destroy another’s reputation; but as believers we MUST know that we will reap whatever we sow. What we make happen for someone else – good or bad – God will ensure the same happens to us.
Last week I taught a Bible Study about the characteristics of God’s love from 1st Cor 13:4-7. One of the characteristics of God’s love is that His love is kind. The word kind means: Being disposed to do good to others, and to make them happy by granting their requests; having tenderness or goodness of nature. Jesus was disposed to do good to others. You and I must be the same way. The Father sends people our way, He sets up divine appointments between the hurting and the healed and He expects us to live what it is that we say we have learned. To expects us to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
So what does this mean to you today? It means the Father expects you to be a blessing, not a bother! I will close with the words of the Life Application Study Bible’s commentary on this verse: “The mouth can be used either as a weapon or a tool, hurting relationships or building them up. Sadly, it is often easier to destroy than to build, and most people have received more destructive comments than those that build up. Every person you meet today is either a demolition site or a construction opportunity. Your words will make a difference. Will they be weapons for destruction or tools for construction?”
Confession for Today: Father, I declare, by faith, that I master my mind, my mouth, and my methods. I am disposed to do good to others. Today I will be a blessing and not a burden; a blessing and not a bother. I seek to build up and never to tear down. I will use my words as tools of construction, helping every person I come in contact with. Father, give me divine appointments today and I will be the vehicle through which You bless others! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
(11:10) Impacting Your Community
(Prov 11:10 MSG) When it goes well for good people, the whole town cheers; when it goes badly for bad people, the town celebrates.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts how the community responds to either the progress or plight of its citizens. His focus is on highlighting how different our community will respond when something good happens to good people and when something bad happens to bad people. I am using the Message Bible translation (that is easy to read); that is why we see the words “good people” and “bad people.” Other translations make it clear that this is a reference to the righteous and the unrighteous, the just and the wicked.
Before I go any further I believe I need to highlight the fact that Solomon is teaching about the reaction of the community (or the world). This is NOT a reference to how believers should react to the good or bad that happens to others. He is not teaching us to celebrate when something bad happens to a wicked person. As believers, we should have compassion on others and our compassion will keep us from celebrating anyone’s loss. In Paul’s letter to the church at Rome he said, “Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15). When someone comes to us who is weeping – whether they are righteous or not – we should have compassion on them. Now, if they are a believer and they are hurting, then the Bible actually tells us to help them bear the burden. In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth he described us (believers) as members of the Body of Christ. He said, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy. You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it” (1st Cor 12:26,27). We should join each other in both pleasure and pain. And finally, James said, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (1:27). James expected us – as true believers – to show mercy to believers and non-believers; to the sinner and the saint; to righteous and the wicked. The bottom-line is that the Father expects us to operate in love towards everyone, everyday, in every way!
Now that we understand God’s expectation of us, as believers, let’s get back to the text. Solomon is not talking about the reaction of believers; he is talking about the reaction of the community. When he refers to the community (the whole town) he obviously includes those that walk WITHOUT God. It is unreasonable to expect an unbeliever to live up to the same standards outlined in the Word for believers. Simply put, I don’t expect the world to act like the church. I expect the church to act like the church and the world to act like the world. How does the world act? The answer can be wrapped up one word: SELFISHLY! The world is a selfish place. People want to know, “What’s in it for me?” That being the case, then the only reason the community cheers when things are going well for the righteous, is because the righteous are making a positive impact on the community. The only reason they cheer when something bad happens to the wicked, is because they wicked were not adding value to their environment.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that part of your responsibility, as a believer, is to serve your community. You should make a positive impact on your sphere of influence daily! I am sure that other believers will have good things to say about you, but what about unbelievers? Would they say that you are making a positive difference or would they call you a hypocrite and celebrate when you go wrong? It’s easy to get along with other believers, but are you getting along with the lost? Are you shining as light in the midst of them? Are you making the impact the Father wants you to make? Are you growing where you have been planted?
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for planting me in my community and for giving me a sphere of influence. I declare, by faith, that I will make a positive impact daily! Sure, I will get along with other believers, but I will also get along with unbelievers. I will treat all people the way that You desire for them to be treated. I operate in Your love towards everyone, everyday, in every way. Even the ungodly will acknowledge Your hand upon my life! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
(11:11) Impacting Your Community (Part II)
(Prov 11:11 MSG) When right-living people bless the city, it flourishes; evil talk turns it into a ghost town in no time.
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 I told you that part of your responsibility, as a believer, is to serve your community; making a positive impact on your sphere of influence daily. In this verse Solomon contrasts the affect the righteous and the unrighteous can have on their communities. For clarity’s sake, let’s look at this verse from two other translations. The New International Version says, “Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.” The New Living Translation says, “Upright citizens are good for a city and make it prosper, but the talk of the wicked tears it apart.”
I believe the Lord, through Solomon, is explicitly clear. He expects us, as believers, to walk in His Blessing; and His Blessing should make a positive impact everywhere we go. The Blessing is traced back to Abraham (the father of faith) where Jehovah told Abraham (then called Abram) that he would be blessed TO BE a blessing. Jehovah told Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him (Gen 12:2). All nationalities, all ethnicities, all races, both genders – all people, period – would be blessed through The Blessing on Abraham and his descendants. Now, you may be thinking, “But wait a minute Rick. I am not a Jew. I know Solomon was a descendant of Abraham, but I am not.” Well, yes and no. You may not be of Jewish descent by birth, but in Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia he said, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you” (3:28,29).
The Blessing of Abraham is now on us – along with the Blessing of Jesus – and we are supposed to make a positive difference everywhere we go. Notice that God did not say that all churches of the world would be blessed. No, Jesus came to establish His Kingdom and His Kingdom is not limited to the church – the place where we meet at on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. When we are ‘Kingdom minded’ we realize that we are blessed to make a difference everywhere the Lord blesses us to be. Solomon said, “Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted.” You and I must believe that we are Blessed TO BE a blessing – and this blessing is NOT limited to church activities. Your city should be blessed, because you live there. Your office should be blessed, because you work there. Your home should be blessed, because you sleep there. Your superiors should be blessed, because you work for them. Your subordinates should be blessed, because they work for you. I hope you get the point.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that if you are a Born-Again believer, then the Blessing of Abraham and the Blessing of Jesus are both on you. You must have confidence in the fact that God has blessed you TO BE a blessing. Trust the fact that He walks with You and allow Him to use you to positively influence your environment daily. Take the time to mentor someone. Take the time to speak life to someone who is down. Take the time lend a listening ear to someone who needs to vent. Take the time to do your job well, so that the Father would be glorified. The point is that The Blessing on your life is not just for Sundays and Wednesdays; it’s for every day. Be Kingdom minded today and believe that you are where you are to make a difference!
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for placing Your Blessing on me. I believe Your Word and I confidently say that I am Blessed TO BE a blessing. You bless me to have a positive influence on my environment. Use me Father, to make a difference today – for Your glory. I know that Jesus did not come just to establish His church alone, He came to establish His Kingdom and Your Kingdom is here to influence all the kingdoms of this world. I am in Your Kingdom and I will make a difference in my city and beyond! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Memorial Day 2009
(John 15:13 TNIV) Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
This morning we interrupt our current to bring you a special message. Memorial Day is a day where we pause our hectic lives long enough to remember those that have paid the price for our freedom. As believers, we all acknowledge what Jesus did on Calvary’s cross. It Jesus Himself who said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice. After Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection He ascended into heaven and took His seat at the right hand of the Father. He left His disciples behind to preach the Word and to transform the world. However, the disciples preached the Word at great cost. Between the Roman governmental leadership and the Jewish religious leadership, first century Christians came up against great opposition. Many died for the cause of Christ. The first to do so was a young man named Stephen. The words of Thucydides, the ancient Greek historian, aptly apply to Stephen and all those we remember today. Thucydides said, “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” Stephen stood before the Sanhedrin council – the same men who had Jesus killed – and did not back down. He stood his ground and it sealed his fate. As they prepared to stone him to death Stephen looked up to heaven, full of the Holy Spirit, and saw Jesus standing at God’s right hand. Our Lord, who had taken a seat, actually stood as He looked on to what was about to happen. Stephen cried out, “Look! I see heaven open. The Son of Man is standing at God’s right hand.” Jesus was moved with compassion for Stephen, a man dying for a something bigger greater than himself. As they stoned him Stephen cried out one last time and said, “Lord! Don’t hold this sin against them” and then he died (see Acts 7).
I bring up Jesus and Stephen today because I can name them, but there are countless others that I cannot name. Countless Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Civilians who have died for a cause greater then themselves. Aaron Kilbourn, a Pastor from South Dakota, said, “The dead soldier’s silence sings our national anthem.” Remember that as you celebrate this Memorial Day. As you see the many American flags wave in the wind, remember that it was the courage of the fallen that gave us the privilege to fly them. No, freedom is not free. It has been paid for and continues to be paid for with the blood of the selfless. Scottish poet Thomas Campbell said, “The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree.” If that is true, and I believe that it is, then America’s Tree of Freedom has deep roots. As you enjoy the fruit from the tree, please remember those that enabled you to do so and join me in prayer:
Prayer: Father, I thank You for all those that have gone before me, that have paid the price for my freedom. Jesus paid the price for my Spiritual freedom, but countless men and women have paid the price for the natural freedoms we enjoy as Americans. There are families all over the country hurting today as they remember the recent loss of loved ones. I ask You to touch them, to heal their broken hearts, to comfort them in their pain, and to help them to grieve quickly and completely. I pray for the many little boys and little girls that will grow up without a mother or father, because of the sacrifice they made. I ask You to intervene in their lives. Help them to never feel inadequate. Comfort them on those Mother’s and Father’s days that they will miss their parent. Bless the remaining spouse with the strength, courage and wisdom required to raise these children to become productive citizens in Your Kingdom. And then, I pray for every service member currently deployed, in harm’s way, in this Global War of Terrorism. I pray that You bless them richly. Send angelic protection round about every convoy, flight and foot patrol. Protect every Post, Base, Camp, and Station. Protect them Father – physically, mentally, and psychologically – so that they can come home safe; and bless their families with the strength to endure the separation. Thank You for having blessed America and Thank You for continuing to do so! I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.
I close with the words of Congressman Allen Boyd (Florida, 2nd Discrict), “America’s fighting men and women sacrifice much to ensure that our great nation stays free. We owe a debt of gratitude to the soldiers that have paid the ultimate price for this cause, as well as for those who are blessed enough to return from the battlefield unscathed.”
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
(11:12,13) Are you a Trustworthy Friend?
(Prov 11:12,13 NIV) A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.
I pray you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend. This morning we get back to our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this passage Solomon contrasts those who lack judgment with those who have understanding. When he says, “understanding” he is making a reference to the understanding of God’s way of doing things. These are people that operate in Godly wisdom. As we walk through the book of Proverbs (God’s Book of Wisdom), I pray you are gaining better understanding; that you are learning God’s ways of doing things. When you do you begin to make decisions that line up with God’s counsel (His Word) and you soon begin to see the manifestation of God’s best in your life.
Here Solomon tells us that those who lack judgment deride their neighbor. In one sense, this simply means that they ridicule them or constantly put them down, but other translations of this verse actually say, “slander.” Not only does the unwise person belittle his neighbor, but he goes to the extent of lying about him. He tears his neighbor down, not knowing that he is really sowing seeds of discord and deceit; seeds that will cause him to harvest the same. You cannot sow discord and expect to live in peace. You cannot sow slander and expect to maintain a good reputation. You cannot sow ridicule and expect others to respect you. Yes, this man lacks judgment. He doesn’t understand God’s system and his ignorance will cost him dearly. On the other hand, Solomon tells us that the man with understanding holds his tongue. Even when he sees something in someone else that he does not like, he resists the urge to ridicule his neighbor for it. Maybe its because he understands his own flaws. Maybe its because he realizes that God is in the business of making holy garments out of flawed material. Maybe its because he knows how far he has come and he acknowledges the fact that he only made it there by God’s grace. Yes, those who are mature in God are less likely to be judgmental, because the closer you get to God, the less you think of yourself; the more you realize that you are where you are by God’s grace, goodness, kindness and mercy. A person that understands his or her own flaws is NOT quick to point out someone else’s.
Solomon then tells us that a gossip betrays confidence. Not only does the man who lacks judgment talk about his neighbor, but when his neighbor actually opens up and confides in him, he quickly shares those inner secrets with others. In addition to slandering his neighbor’s name, he takes it a step further and violates his neighbor’s confidence. This is a terrible thing. As a minister, I know first-hand how awesome it is to be there for a person who needs someone to confide in. People have poured their heart out to me countless times. If I took that what they said and spread it like gossip, not only would it be a violation of their confidence, but it would also be a violation of God’s confidence in me.
So what does this mean to you today? A few quick things:
1. When you understand your flaws you are more apt to look past the flaws of others.
2. Never violate another’s confidence. If you do, you will also be violating God’s confidence in you.
3. A trustworthy man keeps a secret and covers his friends.
4. Hold you tongue. Your tongue can easily get you in trouble. The more you know about God, the less foolish talk you speak.
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for Your wisdom. I apply Your wisdom to every area of my life. I am a man of truth and understanding. I realize that I have been forgiven, so I am quick to forgive. I know You have looked past my flaws, so I look past the flaws of others. I am here to be a blessing and not a curse, so I will use my tongue to build up and never to tear down. I cover my friends, by never repeating what they tell me in confidence. I declare, by faith, that I am a trustworthy and loyal friend; always ready to help and never to hurt! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
(11:14) You Need the Counsel of Others!
(Prov 11:14 KJV) Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts the difference between those that are willing to accept counsel and those that attempt to make all decisions by themselves. He tells us that those without counsel we will fall, whereas those with a multitude of counsel we will enjoy the safety of collective wisdom. This is especially true where leaders are concerned. It is one thing to lead yourself (and some struggle at accomplishing that), but it is quite something else to lead others. Solomon was a leader’s leader; he was considered by most to be the greatest King Israel ever had. He knew the importance of others. Actually, he wrote this verse as counsel for leaders. You cannot really get that from the King James Version, but it is clear in other versions. The New Living Translation says, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.” Solomon understood that leaders cannot accomplish everything by themselves. Great leaders surround themselves without other gifted leaders and they utilize their resources for the collective good.
John Maxwell says, “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.” He calls this, “The Law of Significance.” Think of anything truly significant that has happened in history and you will find that one person did NOT accomplish it. Maxwell also said, “We tend to think of great thinkers and innovators as soloists, but the truth is that the greatest innovative thinking doesn’t occur in a vacuum.” Ken Blanchard said, “None of us is as smart as all of us!” Yes, there is a certain level of safety in knowing that your plan(s) has been vetted by other great minds.
If anyone understood the value of a good team, Solomon did. He had too much to accomplish to allow pride to keep him from involving others. Let’s just use the building of the Temple as an example. When Solomon was ready to build the Temple the Lord told him to build, he knew that he needed cedar wood and that his people were not skilled woodworkers. So he partnered with the King of Hiram. He contracted Hiram to provide the wood and skilled carpenters from Lebanon. Solomon then, knowing that he would need skilled carpenters in his country, in the future, hired 30,000 Israelites to learn form Hiram’s men. The project also required 75,000 stone carriers, 80,000 stonecutters and 33,000 foremen to supervise the project (see 1 Kings 5). Overall, the project took about seven and a half years to build and when it was complete it was one of the wonders of the world. Could Solomon have accomplished this on his own? Of course not, and you won’ be able to do all that God desires for you to do by yourself either.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should not allow pride or ego to keep you from tapping into the gifts the Lord has placed inside of others. You cannot do everything on your own and Solomon warns you that if you attempt to, you are opening the door failure. Spinning more plates does not increase your talent; it increases your likelihood of dropping a plate. The day you realize that other people can help you do a better job than you can do alone is the day you start your journey towards maximizing your purpose and potential in the earth. The Father’s plans for your life are too big to be locked in one person. If you are going to maximize your potential it WILL require others!
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for Your Word. I receive, believe and apply Your instruction this morning. I know that it is foolish to attempt to make every decision on my own. There is safety in the multitude of counsel and I declare, by faith, that I will tap into the counsel You have placed around me. I know that I need others to maximize my purpose and potential. Therefore, I will draw/learn from others as I seek to please You with my life. Thank You Father for not sending me out to live my life by myself! The journey is more pleasant when I experience it with others! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
(11:15) Making Sound Financial Decisions
(Prov 11:15 TNIV) Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts those that blindly enter into a binding agreement to cover the debt of a stranger, with those who wisely refuse to do so. The translation I chose uses the word, “security.” The King James Version uses the word, “surety.” We were first introduced to this term in Proverbs 6:1. A surety is a person who agrees to be responsible for the debt or obligation of another. In today’s language this would be considered a co-signer on a loan. Solomon is basically warning us against co-signing on a loan for a stranger.
Solomon was an astute businessman. He ran a nation with a multi-billion dollar surplus. During his time the Phoenicians developed a new system of credit. Credit was not a new concept, but to this point is relatively fair and it was offered at reasonable interest. What the Phoenicians established was credit with unusually high interest. This caused several people to be locked into bad deals. Let me pause here long enough to say that there is nothing new under the sun. Biblical wisdom stands the test of time. What President Obama is attempting to address today with the Credit Card industry is nothing new. For thousands of years people have been conducting commerce and using credit. Credit – in and of itself – is not a bad thing, but it can become a bad thing if not managed correctly. Solomon warned his readers (believers) to avoid putting their good name on a bad loan; especially for someone they just met.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that Solomon’s counsel is good advice on many levels, because:
1. You don’t know the person. You don’t know if this person is of solid character, if they will make good on their promise to pay, or if they even have the intention of paying. Why would you obligate yourself to a binding agreement FOR someone you just met?
2. Failing to pay is NOT an option. Solomon tells us that the person that refuses to make the pledge is safe. For the believer the word, “pledge” is a serious thing. You are putting your name on the line. You are giving your Word that if this person fails to pay, that you WILL; and as a believer, you are bound to do so. A person of poor character and deceitful intent may enter into a loan without the intentions of paying, but you MUST never do so. Your word has to be your bond. We are expected by God to meet every obligation. That is why we must “Count the cost” (see Luke 14:28-30) before we enter into a binding agreement. So think things through, prayer over them, and make sound decisions.
3. Your family can be affected. You have an obligation to God and to your family to manage your finances well. Making a poor decision like this can put your family at risk. That is why prayer is so important. Many people make foolish decisions then say things like, “God, why did you let this happen to me?” No! Don’t blame God. He is not obligated to bless your mess. So be very careful what obligations you take on. There is a difference between being generous and making a poor decision. Don’t allow your emotions to take you where your bank account can’t keep you. This is great advice in today’s credit-laden society.
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for providing me sound counsel through Your Word and by Your Spirit. You lead me in the way that I should go. I declare, by faith, that everything decision I make is a decision that is birthed out of my prayer life. I make decisions that line up with Your counsel. I am a blessing to others and I give to those in need. However, I am led in my giving. I don’t overextend myself and I don’t endanger my family by making poor decisions. You lead me in the area of my finances and in every area of my life. I pray, I think things through, I count the cost, and I make sound financial decisions – BY FAITH! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
(11:16) Are you there to make Money or to make a Difference?
(Prov 11:16 NIrV) A woman who has a kind heart gains respect. But men who are not kind gain only wealth.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts those that seek to gain respect with those that only seek to gain wealth. I have told you many times before that money makes an excellent servant, but a poor master. Having money is not the issue. The author of his passage (Solomon) was wealthier than Bill Gates. If you look at the possessions of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, and many others, you will see that they were very wealthy. It issue is not whether or not you have money; it becomes an issue when money has you; when the driving motivation of your life is money. Paul said, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows” (1st Tim 6:10). When you love money, when you crave money, when all you can think about is making money, then your focus will be so skewed that you will neglect God and others on your road to wealth. It may seem like you are climbing the corporate ladder, getting fast promotions and greater positions, but at the end of the day, if all you pursued was money, you will be a poor man. Some of the poorest people on the planet have lots of money. Having money doesn’t do much good if you don’t have strong relationships, a healthy body, a sound mind, and most of all – a strong covenant relationship with God.
Solomon says, “A woman who has a kind heart gains respect.” There is a certain level of respect given to a person because of their rank or position, but that initial respect can only go so far. In the military we have a mandate to lead our subordinates to accomplish our mission. Our subordinates give us the customary respect that our rank demands, but every good leader adds to it. A good leader knows that leadership is much more about disposition than position. He knows that if he earns the respect of his subordinates that they will go above-and-beyond for not just the mission, but also the leader! The word “kind” in this text is key to gaining respect. The word “kind” means: being disposed to do good to others; having tenderness or goodness of nature. Jesus was an excellent leader and He was kind. He was disposed to do good to and for others. He was always on the lookout for ways to BE a blessing. His focus was not on His own personal advancement, but on the advancement of others.
Christian educator, Dr. Ted Ward said, “Leadership is a servant relationship, which facilitates human development.” I read Dr. Ward’s definition of leadership about 10 years ago and I have been using it ever since. Godly leaders are servant leaders. They know that they are blessed by God to be in a position of leadership, so they seek to use the position to glorify God, by seeking to make a positive impact on all those that they can. They seek to serve their subordinates by developing them, as they have been developed.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should check your heart as you begin this day. What is the motivation behind why you do what you do? Are you at work only to make money? Or are you there to make a difference? Thank God for your position, but remember to maintain the proper disposition. Be disposed to do good unto others, seek to be a blessing, make every effort to develop your subordinates, and guess what? You will be financially rewarded in the process!
Confession for Today: Father, I don’t do what I do just to make money; I do what I do to make a difference and money comes as a by-product. I thank You for blessing me to be in a position where I can be a blessing to others. Use me Father, today, for Your glory. Use me to develop those that I oversee. Use me to speak a word of encouragement. Use me to speak a word of correction, if that is what’s need. Use me in whatever capacity You need to use me today, so that the organization I am a part of can progress and You can be glorified! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
(11:17) The Power of the Pipe
(Prov 11:17 TNIV) Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts those that operate in kindness (and thereby benefit themselves) with those that operate in cruelty (and thereby bring ruin upon themselves. This message flows in the same vein as the last one where Solomon said, “A woman who has a kind heart gains respect.” I have shared with you before that the word kind means: being disposed to do good to others; having tenderness or goodness of nature. We know that Jesus was our ultimate example and He was kind. He was disposed to do good to and for others. He was always on the lookout for ways TO BE a blessing. The Good News Bible translation of this verse says, “You do yourself a favor when you are kind. If you are cruel, you only hurt yourself.”
When teaching ministers I have often used the analogy of the reservoir and the pipe. No matter what room I am in, I tell the ministers to imagine that God had a huge reservoir of water just above the ceiling of the room and that the water represents God’s Blessing. I then tell them to imagine the room filled with people. God has His Blessing above the room and there are people in the room that want to be blessed. The problem is that there is a space between the Blessing (that God wants to release) and the people (who want to receive the Blessing). Oftentimes God is looking for someone to bridge the gap between the two. When we become that person, when we yield ourselves to be used of God to bless someone else, we become like a pipe that connects to the ceiling. At this point I raise one hand up to the ceiling, as if it is connecting to the water. I then point the other hand to the people, as if I am aiming the Blessing at them. I then explain that when we allow God to use us, we literally become the conduits through which He is able to Bless someone else. The water – or really, the Blessing – flows through us and upon the people. That way, God is pleased, because He wanted to bless the people; and the people are pleased, because they wanted to be blessed. Now, you may be thinking, “But what about me?” I became the pipe. I became the conduit. I became the vessel. Yes, you are right, and this is where this verse comes in. I close out the analogy by saying; “The water can’t pass through the pipe, without the pipe getting wet too!” Glory to God! I call this the Power of the Pipe. It’s a reminder that when we allow God to use us TO BE a blessing, that we also get blessed. This verse tells us that when we are kind, we literally benefit ourselves.
The Lord, through Isaiah, told the Israelites: “Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.” That is sound counsel and it sounds like the Godly thing to do. But wait; there is a blessing in store when you operate this way. The next verse says, “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind” (Is 58:7,8). If you seek TO BE a blessing, you will always have the Blessing flowing in your life.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should seek TO BE a blessing to someone today. As you allow God to use you as the conduit through which He can bless someone else, you will find that the Blessing will flow freely in your life. I did not say much about the opposite, but I don’t have to. I am sure you know from personal experience that those who are cruel, mean-spirited, and hurtful towards others reap exactly what they sow. Don’t allow that to be you. Be a blessing, not a burden, to someone else today!
Confession for Today: Father, I surrender myself to be used of You today. Use me for Your glory. Use me as a conduit through which Your Blessing can flow. Use me to make a positive impact in the life of someone else. Here I am Father, use me. I will be the kind, caring, and thoughtful person You need me to be today and others will see You in me, as I seek TO BE a blessing. You and me Father, let’s make a difference today! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
(11:18) Sure Reward!
(Prov 11:18 NIV) The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts the deceptive wages of the wicked with the sure reward of the righteous. Solomon is teaching us about security, or the lack thereof. Both men in the text are workers. Both put in their hours, but the reward (or payment) of the righteous is sure, whereas the payment of the wicked is deceptive. It’s deceptive because it may look like they are getting ahead, in the short term, but in the long term they realize that a great portion of their labor has been in vain. They built a house, but their house was built on sand.
The Psalmist said, “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalm 127:1). If you don’t get the Lord is not involved in your work (or labor), you will find that a great portion of that labor will be in vain. You will work hard, toil, and sweat, but since you are working under your own ability alone, you can only get but so far. Your work is not protected by God and with a quick change in environment your house can come tumbling down.
Jesus taught: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27). Notice that both men worked hard to build their houses. Both men erected a frame. Both men put on a roof. Both men followed the blueprints. Both men put in the labor. But when the environment changed, only the man who labored WITH GOD, the one who got God involved in what he was doing, was the one who enjoyed his house for the long haul. His house was able to withstand the rain, wind and floods, because God was it’s foundation. However, all the other person could do was stand by as the work of his hands fell apart. He never got God involved in what he was doing and therefore, he was left unprotected. He labored, but his labor was in vain.
In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth he taught them many things. He was up front with them and explained that they would have to face challenges as believers, but that they could do so with the assurance that God would not allow them to be pushed past their limit (10:13). In his closing remarks Paul said, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (15:58).
So what does this mean to you today? It means that both the wicked and the righteous will face challenges, but the righteous can do so believing that our labor will not be in vain. When we get God involved in what we are doing we will see to it that our reward will stand the test of time. Why? Because our house is built upon the rock and our labor is rooted in God’s love. When God is involved in what we are doing, the work of our hands will withstand the rain, wind and floods. Our labor in the Lord is never in vain!
Confession for Today: Father, I get You involved in the work of my hands. I welcome You to be involved in all that I do. I work diligently, but I do not work alone. You work with me and therefore, You bless the work of my hands. I build my house upon the rock. The work of my hands is rooted upon a sure foundation and it will withstand the rain, wind and floods! Come what may, it will continue to stand! Having done all, I will stand even the more! I stand firm, letting nothing move me, knowing that my labor is NOT in vain! I sow righteousness and I reap a sure reward! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
(11:19,20) Finding Life!
(Prov 11:19,20 NLT) Godly people find life; evil people find death. The LORD detests people with crooked hearts, but He delights in those with integrity.
Before I get into the Word I want to let you know that this might be the last Word I send out this week. I may be heading out tonight, traveling back to the US to spend a couple of weeks with my family. If you don’t get a message from me tomorrow, you know why. I am really looking forward to it. Thank you for your prayers.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this passage Solomon drives home the contrast between the Godly and the evil, between those that walk in integrity and those that possess crooked hearts. He plainly says that the Godly find life, whereas the evil find death. This is not just a reference to eternal life and eternal damnation, but to the quality of life that we can enjoy NOW, in the earth. Jesus said, “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness” (John 10:10 GNB). Jesus made it clear that He came for one purpose and that our enemy (the devil) comes for a completely different purpose. The enemy wants to take from us; Jesus wants to give to us. What does Jesus was to give us? John 10:10 tells us that He not only came to give us life (eternal), but He also came that we might be able to live life in all its fullness – right now, in the earth. Other translations say, “Life More Abundantly!”
This takes us back to Solomon. Godly people – those that walk in integrity, that commune with God, and that seek to live their lives by His Word – are people who literally find life. Not only do they possess eternal life in Christ, but their daily journey through life takes them down the path of God’s expected and desired life. I often say, “Yes, God wants you to make it to heaven, but He also wants you to enjoy the ride.” If all Jesus came to give me was access to heaven, then I could die right now. But no, God is not through with me, and if you are reading this email, then He is not through with you either. He has things for you to do in the earth and as you do them, as you walk down His desired path, as you seek to live a life that is pleasing to Him, you will encounter life (the God-kind of life) along the way.
Solomon tells us that God, “Delights in those with integrity.” When our life is delightful TO God, we will experience delight FROM God. We will be able to walk in His best every day of our lives. Does that mean that we will not face challenges? Of course not. But it does means that we will never have to face the challenges alone! We will face every challenge head-on, knowing that God is with us and for us!
So what does this mean to you today? It means that as the Godly, as the person who walks in integrity, this passage tells you that you can expect to find life (the God-kind of life) on your journey. Enter this day with great expectations. Expect the best and not the worst. Expect good and not evil. Expect to experience life in all its fullness! Be on the lookout for ways that God wants to show you His goodness, kindness, and mercy. I have learned that you often find what you are looking for, so be sure to look for God’s best today!
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for all that You have done for me. Not only did You send Your Son Jesus to die, that I might live eternally, but He died that I might live life in all its fullness RIGHT NOW! I am the Godly in this text. I am the person who walks in integrity and I declare, by faith, that I find life – Your life – as I live out my life. I expect Your Blessing to flow for me. I expect Your goodness and mercy to pursue me all the days of my life. I expect Your best every day, in every way. I am on the lookout for ways that You want to bless me and for ways that You want to use me to be a blessing to others! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
(11:21) Walking in Love
(Prov 11:21 NIV) Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.
Before I get into the Word I want to let you know that I made it home safely and I am enjoying this time with my family. I often say, “Rest is spiritual!” After getting home, I say “Amen” to myself.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon teaches a principle that was far ahead of his time. During Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you…” (Mat 5:38,39); and He went on to teach about love. Jesus taught how love is quick to forgive, without seeking retaliation. I say that Solomon was ahead of his time on this point, because the Jewish Law permitted retaliation, even to the extent of taking someone’s life (see Exodus 21:22-27). I am sure that Solomon was aware of what Moses wrote in Exodus, but he was being led of God to teach us about trust, peace, and love.
Moses also wrote, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them” (Deuteronomy 32:35). This was the Lord speaking through Moses, telling the people of Israel not to worry about the fate of their enemies. God assured them to He would see to it that they reaped what they had sown. Paul quotes Moses (from this passage) in his letter to the church at Rome. Paul was teaching the Romans (and you and I for that matter) how Born-Again, Spirit-filled, and Christ-centered believers are supposed to treat others. He said: “Live in harmony with one another… be willing to associate with people of low position… Do not repay anyone evil for evil… If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”(Romans 12:16-21). This is not only sound counsel; it is a ‘Biblical Mandate’ for you and I. We are not to concern ourselves with causing evil upon those that attempt to cause evil to us. If anything, we should have mercy upon them and pray for them; knowing that their poison can’t stop our purpose. Since they can’t really stop us – and believe me, they can’t – then don’t concern yourself with their poison. Forgive them as you have been forgiven. Have mercy upon them as you have received mercy. Pray for them, as you have been the beneficiary of many prayers. Know that if they continue to sow wicked seed, God will see to it that they reap a wicked harvest, but that should not be your concern. You are NOT the Lord of the Harvest. If anything, pray that God would forgive them and show mercy towards them. Attempt, with every fabric of your being, to overcome evil with good today!
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a Biblical Mandate to walk in love and peace with all men. Paul said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This means you must do your absolute best to be a peacemaker and not a peace-breaker. Be quick to forgive, walk in love, and never seek revenge. Know that God will protect you from every attack of the enemy anyway, so don’t allow their poison to be your concern. If you want to focus on anything, focus your attention on praying for those that are coming up against you, and watch as God not only moves in their lives, but He will move mightily in your life when you show Him that you are committed to walking in Love!
Confession for Today: Father, I know that vengeance is Yours and You will see to it that we all reap whatever we sow, so I do not concern myself with attempting to make the wicked pay for their actions. On the contrary, I stand in the gap for them. I pray for my enemies. I intercede for those that come up against me. I know that their poison can’t stop my purpose, so I don’t have any concern or fear about what they can do TO me, but I do have concern FOR them. I ask You to bless them, to soften their hearts, and to show Yourself strong in their lives. Manifest Yourself to my enemies Father, and continue to perfect Your love in my heart! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
(11:22) Beauty from the Inside-Out!
(Prov 11:22 NLT) A beautiful woman who lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” You know the saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Solomon has given us a powerful visual this morning. He wants us to picture a beautiful gold ring on a pig’s snout and just by reading it, you inevitably do. Just like I can’t say, “elephant” without you picturing an elephant, or “Big Mac” without you picturing (whether you like it or not) two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on that sesame seed bun. We are visual people. We don’t think in words, we think in images and Solomon uses our imaging center (our brain) as he asks us to picture the foolishness of taking something so beautiful and valuable (as a gold ring), and placing it on something so hideous (as a pig’s snout). To get the full appreciation for the contrast in Solomon’s mind I must remind you that Solomon was an Israelite (a Jew). Israelites did not just dislike pigs they detested them! If a Jew would touch a pig, dead or alive, it would make them unclean and they would have to go through ceremonial cleansing. Needless to say, Solomon was attempting to paint a vivid picture upon the canvas of our minds. He wanted to be clear that this was a stark contrast.
So let’s get to the real message. What was he contrasting? What was he comparing? He was comparing the aforementioned picture with that of a beautiful woman who lacks discretion. Let’s make sure we understand discretion. Solomon uses this word throughout the Book of Proverbs. Discretion means: the ability to make responsible decisions; having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech; marked by wisdom. Solomon is telling us that what really makes a person beautiful is not the outward appearance, but rather the inner ability to control one’s self to make wise decisions. Just like the valuable ring seems out of place on the snout of a pig, outer beauty means little on a person that routinely makes poor decisions. God does not judge us like man does. In 1st Samuel 16, when the prophet Samuel was being led of God to anoint a new King for Israel, the prophet was fooled by the outer appearance of one of David’s older brothers. Samuel thought that Eliab was the one, simply because he looked the part. But God said, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (v.7). The Lord looks at who you really are. He looks at your motives. He looks at your desires. He looks at the foundation for your decision making process. He looks at what makes you “YOU,” and He judges you accordingly.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that God looks right past your façade. Sure, you can fool others. You can say the right words, at the right times, to the right people, to make things “appear” as though you have it altogether. You can go to church, carry your Bible, and sing hymns to and fro; but if your heart is not right, the Father knows. He knows that we are capable of painting a pretty picture for others, all-the-while covering our true self. Simply put, that is NOT God’s best. He wants you to be beautiful from the inside-out. He wants you to be to right with Him, and He will ensure you are right with men. He wants you to make sound and quality decisions, so that you can not only have the appearance of making a difference, but so that you can truly impact the world for Him! So make sure your heart is right towards God today, allow His Spirit to lead you to make Godly decisions, and you will experience favor with God and man!
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for blessing me to be able to take down the façade. I don’t have to hide within my own skin. Since I am right with You, I am free to BE ME before others. I allow Your beauty to radiate from the inside out! Your Spirit leads, guides, and directs me in the way that I should go. Your wisdom and Your truth are the foundation for my decision making process; therefore, I choose well! I declare, by faith, that I think, feel, and choose the way You want me to and in-so-doing I become a candidate for favor with both You and man! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
(11:23) What do you Desire?
(Prov 11:23 MSG) The desires of good people lead straight to the best, but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon compares the desires of good people (the godly) with the wicked ambition of the ungodly. Interestingly enough, I just had a conversation with my 16 yr. old son about desiring the right things. What you inwardly desire and passionately pursue is a good indicator of what is truly important to you; what you consider significant or weighty in your life. Before I came to Christ my desires were pretty common among the ungodly. I wanted to make lots of money, buy a big house, drive a nice car, and raise my family in a nicer place than I grew up. Those desires in and of themselves were not bad. But my heart was not right with God and therefore, I was willing to do things that were not pleasing to God to attain them. I had what Solomon calls, “Wicked ambition.” There is a thin line between being a hard worker and being so ambitious that your ambition consumes you. I have never been lazy. I have been working since I was 13 years old. Hard work was not the problem, it was the condition of my heart. My desire was focused on “things” instead of on God. Riches motivated me and I now know that the pursuit of riches can be deceitful. Even believers must be careful not to be consumed by the pursuit of riches. In Jesus’ parable of all parables – the parable of the Sower and the Seed – He explained how “The cares of this world… the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things” (Mark 4:19) can choke the Word right out of the heart of those that hear it, making it unfruitful.
So what is the solution to the problem? How can a person that comes to God with wicked ambition learn to develop Godly desires? Let’s ask Solomon’s father David for an answer. David said, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). When I first read this verse I thought it meant that if I lived right, that God would give me everything that my heart desired. But after studying it out and after walking with God for many years, I have learned that what David was saying is that when you live a life that is pleasing to God, He will give you the “desires of your heart.” I say again, the “desires” themselves, not necessarily (or immediately) the object of your desires. When your life is pleasing to God and when your heart is pliable in His hands, He is able to give you Godly desires. You develop a hunger and a thirst for Godly things. You learn to want what He wants you to have. You develop a passionate pursuit for the things He freely wants to give you. And the awesome part to all of this is that God is not an unrighteous Father that will birth desires in us for things that He has no plans on actually giving us. No! He gives us the desire for something, long before He makes it manifest in our lives, but He does so with the full intention of making good on every desire. He will never cause us to develop a thirst for something that He does NOT plan on giving us. He helps us develop the right desires and He then makes sure the desires are manifested in our lives, giving us a sense of satisfaction, fulfillment, and the confidence of knowing that our Father loves us!
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a choice. If you are new to God, then I am sure you still have unrighteous desires (birthed from the flesh), but you can wean yourself from them, by learning to live a life that is pleasing to God. The more you walk with the Father, the more you will develop a hunger and a thirst for Godly things. The more you do, the more you will see the manifestation of those things in your life. Frustration is the end result of pursuing the wrong things. Pursue the right things and you will be fully satisfied!
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for developing a hunger and a thirst for righteousness in my heart. I learn to live a life that is pleasing to You and as I do, You begin to place Godly desires in my heart. Before I know it, I am pursuing things I never pursued before I and I pursue them fully believing that they WILL come to pass. You give me the desires and then You make them good! Thank You Father for purging me from the pursuit of the wrong things. I pursue the right things and I am fully satisfied in You! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
(11:24) Are you a Giver or a Hoarder?
(Prov 11:24 NIV) One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Over the next few verses Solomon compares the lives of those who freely give with those who greedily keep a stranglehold on everything they get. Remember, there is nothing wrong with having money, but there is a definite problem when money has you. I often say, “Money makes an excellent servant, but a poor master.”
Solomon was fully qualified to talk about money. He was still a teenager when he was about to take the throne from his father David. He was concerned about assuming the responsibility for the nation, so the Lord spoke to him in a dream and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” This was Solomon’s golden opportunity. He was young, he was in charge, he was somewhat afraid, and he was seeking help from God. God told him what he wanted to hear, “Ask for whatever you want!” But instead of rattling off a list of selfish desires, young Solomon asked for insight for oversight. The Lord honored his request and promised to make him the wisest man of this time; and since he did not ask for riches, the Lord also promised to make him the richest man of his time. He became the richest man in the world (see 1st Kings 3).
So what did Solomon do with all this wealth? Was he a hoarder or a giver? Did he freely honor God with his finances or did he seek to keep it all for himself? Well, I assume you know the answer before I even give it. Solomon was a giver. He spared no expense in building the Temple (the House of Worship). When the Temple was finally ready (after 7 and ½ years of construction), Solomon held a two weeklong worship ceremony where he offered 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep to the Lord (1st Kings 6:62,63). That was a very expensive offering, but it was indicative of his gratitude towards the God that gave him the wealth. Not only was he a giver, but he also led his nation in giving. He led them in corporate worship to the Lord and in the care of widows, orphans, and strangers.
This background helps us understand the wisdom behind his words where he tells us that those that give freely will actually get more, whereas those who unduly withhold eventually end up in poverty. I like the way the New Living translates this verse. It says: “Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” How about that for wisdom? That is some of the best counsel you will ever receive. If you have been reading Today’s Word for a while you know that I focus a great deal on God’s love. I often say, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” Love is always focused on others. Love understands that we ARE blessed TO BE a blessing. The more we have, the more of a blessing we can be to others. But if you only focus on hoarding all you can, for as long as you can, you will find that you can store up lots of money, but still be poor. Poverty is not just tied to the size of your checking or savings accounts. Seek to be a blessing and you will find that you can be rich beyond your wildest dreams (and it will not be tied to the size of your checking or savings accounts).
So what does this mean to you today? It means that the Father wants you to have the proper attitude about money. The more you give, the more you will receive – and it will NOT all be tied to money. When you focus on BEING a blessing, you free God to truly BLESS you beyond belief. When you show God that money does not have you, He is free to bless you with money and much, much more!
Confession for Today: Father, I declare, by faith, that I develop the proper attitude towards money. You can bless me with money, because money will never have me. Money is my servant, not my master. I use my increase as a tool and to BE a blessing to others and to finance Your Kingdom. I give freely and IT is given unto me, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over! My heart is right Father, so You can freely use me to make the difference in the world You desire for me to make – with my checkbook, my hands, and my heart!
(11:25) Cheerful Giver!
(Prov 11:25 NIV) A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon continues to teach about giving. It is unfortunate, but many believers don’t want to discuss biblical finances or biblical giving at all. Those that ignore what the Bible has to say about money are missing out a great portion of scripture. Just like the Bible teaches about love, peace, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, and etc., the Bible has a great deal to say about the way believers should handle their finances. Giving is a big part of it. Solomon does not mince any words here. He plainly tells us that a generous man will prosper. Heart felt and Spirit-led giving releases the Blessing to flow freely in your life. To illustrate the awesomeness of what happens when you allow God to use to give, let’s take a look at something that Paul wrote in his second letter to the church in Corinth. Remember, Paul was a traveling preacher and his primary support came from donations. Paul was ministering in Jerusalem and the believers in Corinth had promised to support the work that he was doing. Let’s take a look at what he told them about their impending gift:
“I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem. For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving. But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you… So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly. Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the One who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, He will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God… they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” (2nd Corinthians chapter 9).
So what does this mean to you today? It means that when you allow God to use to give – from what He has already given you – then you open up the door to the Blessing for the giver and the receiver. The Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached to every nation and it requires financial support. When you allow God to use you to be a tool through which He can finance His Kingdom, He will bless you beyond measure. Why? Because you are willing to be the channel through which He blesses others! Blessed TO BE a blessing – that was the Promise to Abraham!
Confession for Today: Father, I acknowledge that fact that everything I have came from You. You provide seed for sowing and bread for eating. You not only allow me to have enough for me and my family (that’s eating), but enough to sow into the lives of others and to support Your Kingdom. Thank You Father for increasing my resources and then producing a harvest on every seed sown. Others will glorify You because of the seed You enable and allow me to sow! I don’t give grudgingly or in response to pressure. I am a prompt, obedient, willing and cheerful giver! In
(11:26) Doing Business the Right Way
(Prov 11:26 KJV) He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon continues to flow in the financial vein as he teaches us how we should conduct business. Solomon was an astute businessman and many secular books have been written from his principles. What he teaches us this morning is about morality in the marketplace. I know that when you first read this verse from the King James Version it may be a bit confusing. The Amplified Bible adds some clarity, saying: “The people curse him who holds back grain [when the public needs it], but a blessing [from God and man] is upon the head of him who sells it.” The Contemporary English Version makes it even clearer, saying: “Charge too much for grain, and you will be cursed; sell it at a fair price, and you will be praised.”
This verse ties in with a movie I saw this weekend. I won’t give you the name of movie, so I won’t spoil it for those of you that have not seen it. In the movie an ex-Wall Street broker causes an incident that he knows will drive the stock market haywire. He watches as stock prices fall and he patiently waits for them to hit rock bottom. He then buys up all the stock that he can, waits for the market to correct itself, and makes an absorbent amount of money. Even if you ignore the fact that the incident he caused was illegal, you still have to recognize the fact that his methods were immoral, conniving, and unethical. The Lord is not opposed to us making gains in business, but He is opposed to us making those gains the wrong way.
In Biblical times the big “Market” was not in stock, but rather in grain (or corn). There was a common practice among the unethical businessmen of the time to hoard as much grain as they could. They would store up the grain, in massive amounts, and wait for a famine. As the weather and ‘crops’ took a turn for the worse, and as the price of grain gradually increased, they would hold on to their grain. These men knew that the public needed their grain, but they waited until the situation reached a full-blown famine, before they would sell the grain they had conveniently stored up. And of course, they would then sell the grain and outlandish prices; making a fortune from the misfortune of others.
Solomon tells us that the people will curse those who do business this way, but I must tell you that in addition to the curse from the people, those that do business this way will also experience disfavor with God. And just like Solomon tells us that those who sell their grain at a fair price will be praised of men, they will also receive the favor of God.
So what does this mean to you today? You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with me? All this talk of grain, how does it apply?” I believe it applies directly to our lives. You and I may not be dealing with grain, but the principles apply to every area of business. The Lord wants you to increase, He wants your business to prosper, He wants your business to be booming, even in the midst of this slow economy, but He will NEVER lead you to take advantage of others. Today’s economy is a ‘famine’ for many and there are some unscrupulous businessmen taking advantage of it, making a fortune from the misfortune of others. Simply put, that is NOT God’s way. Be fair in business – do what is right, because it’s right – and you will experience the favor of both God and man! God wants you to get ahead, but He wants you to do it the right way.
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for teaching me Biblical Principles for Godly Success. I want success Your way. I do what is right in business and in everything else. I know You can bless me, and my business, to be a light in the midst of this dark time, but to do so, I must do things Your way. So I will walk upright before You and man. I do business in a way that is pleasing to You and I know that I will experience the gratitude of others and the Blessing of my heavenly Father! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
(11:27) What are you Looking For?
(Prov 11:27 NLT) If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you!
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon contrasts those who seek good with those who seek evil. The message is simple, clear, and yet profound – you will basically find what you are searching for. The person who seeks mischief, who is always on the lookout for ways to do wrong, will find all sorts of opportunities to get into trouble. The same is true for those that are disposed to do good unto others. If you have it in your heart to be a blessing to others, you will always find opportunities through which you can be a blessing. Race, color, creed, gender, status, and etc. don’t matter on this point. This is not a matter of position, but rather of disposition. If your heart is bent towards God you will seek God and run into Him all the time. However, if your heart is bent towards the enemy then you will run into trouble on every turn.
The New International Reader’s Version of this text says, “Anyone who looks for what is good finds favor. But bad things happen to a person who plans to do evil.” The issue here is one of expectation. Over the years I have observed that those that come to church with an expectation of the manifestation of God often receive that manifestation, whereas those that come expecting nothing get exactly that. Someone said, “If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.” The same can be said for those that aim for Godly things or ungodly things; they often hit their target.
Later in Proverbs Solomon said, “Criminals out looking for nothing but trouble won’t have to wait long – they’ll meet it coming and going!” (17:11 MSG). That is a clear picture of what happens when you seek the wrong things. On the positive side, let’s look at something Paul said in his second letter to the church at Corinth. In that letter he said, “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:11). Paul was teaching about developing in God. The illustration he used was powerful. He paints a picture of us, as Born-Again believers, standing unveiled before a mirror and beholding the glory of God in it. The more we focus on the glory of God, the more we are transformed into that image and likeness. It takes time, but the process takes us from level to level, from glory to glory. Whenever I teach from this verse I say, “You become what you behold!” The lesson is that you eventually become what you consistently give your attention to. If you focus on the things of God you will become Godly. If you focus on the things of the world you will become worldly. Your focus and expectation is the key.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that what you become in life is mostly up to you at this point. Jehovah has already defeated satan through Jesus on Calvary. The Father has plans for you and He wants to operate in your life, but you must cooperate with Him. He will NOT force you. You must give yourself over to the process of development. So stand before the mirror of God’s glory, focus on the things of God, will your will to expect God’s best and you will find that run into God’s blessing on every turn. If you search for good you will find favor!
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for defeating satan through Your Son Jesus! I have been Born-Again into You. I am in Your Kingdom and Your Kingdom is in me! I give myself over to You and to the process of my development. I focus on Your glory and I declare, by faith, I become what I behold! I seek for Your good and I find Your favor. I seek for Your best and I consistently run into Your blessing. I enter this day with great expectations and I know that I will find exactly what I am looking for! My attitude will dictate my altitude! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
(11:28) Where is Your Trust?
(Prov 11:28 TNIV) Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Solomon gives us a very timely message this morning. The U.S. economy has taken a turn for the worse and it looks like it will be quite some time before we see a true turn-around. Many have been affected severely. Television shows are full of people testifying of how their lifelong savings have been depleted. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their jobs, their homes, and their credit rating. Some have even lost their hope.
The Good News Bible translation of this verse says: “Those who depend on their wealth will fall like the leaves of autumn, but the righteous will prosper like the leaves of summer.” If I had taught from this verse a few years ago it would have been received differently. When the economy is booming people have a false sense of security from the size of their savings. But when the economy takes a turn like it has, verses like this one seem prophetic. They remind us that there is nothing and no one as stable as God. Jehovah is the only constant in our ever-changing environment.
In the New Testament, when Jesus was teaching the parable of the Sower and the Seed (the seed being the Word of God), He explained how the different types of ground (that’s us) respond to the same Word that is preached. Jesus taught that thorny ground people hear the Word, but “The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things, choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). Without really getting into the message in the parable, what I want to bring out from what He said is that riches are deceitful. One of the definitions for deceitful includes the word “untrustworthy.” That’s really the message behind Solomon’s teaching. His point is a point made about trust. Here you have a billionaire telling you not the trust in riches. He does cut any corners either. Solomon plainly says that those that trust in their riches will fall. They will fall like the leaves of the autumn. These are leave that were once green, full, and flourishing, but after a change of season, the leaves dried up, changed colors, and eventually fell. The contrast Solomon gives us the righteous – those who keep their trust solely in God.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you MUST keep your trust focused in the right direction (UP). God is not opposed to you doing well financially, to you having savings, to making investments, owning homes and land and etc. As a matter of fact, the Bible is full of scripture that supports the opposite. He wants you to prosper. He wants you to BE blessed, so that you can BE a blessing. The warning here is not about storing up wealth, it’s about trusting in it. If your trust is in your wealth and not Jehovah, then you have put your money ahead of God and your wealth has become your god. Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Mat 6:24). You can either put your trust in God, honor Him with your finances – by doing what He has instructed us to do with our income – and you will see that He will bless you abundantly as you use money as your servant. Or you can put your trust in your money and ignore God’s instruction and you will soon find you will not like that scenario. Money makes an excellent servant, but a poor master. In your life Jehovah must be LORD OF ALL or He is not LORD AT ALL!
Confession for Today: Father, I declare, right now, by faith, that You are Lord of ALL in my life. My trust is completely in You. I thank You for giving me the wisdom to govern all that You allow to come through my hands. I will honor You with my life and that includes my finances. Lead me Father in every decision and I will use what You bless me with for Your glory. Money is my servant, not my master. You alone sit on the throne of my life and therefore, I believe I will long a strong, stable and secure life in You! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
(11:29) Ministering to Your Family
(Prov 11:29 KJV) He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon gives us a proverb about managing our own home. I know the King James version seems a bit confusing, especially the part about inheriting the wind. Basically, what it means is that those who choose to stir up trouble in their own homes will eventually be left with nothing. An empty wind will be their reward. The Good News Bible translation of this verse says, “Those who bring trouble on their families will have nothing at the end. Foolish people will always be servants to the wise.” The latter part of the verse is a reminder to us all that failing to apply Godly wisdom will keep us under those that do. We all want to get ahead in life, but if we continue to make foolish decisions, the sad reality is that we will never get there. We are where we are today, because of the decisions we have made in the past. We will be where we will be tomorrow, because of the decisions we make today. The bottom-line is that our life is a grand-sum-total of our decisions. Make foolish decisions and you will always be a servant to those who choose wisely. Treat your family foolishly and you bring nothing but destruction upon yourself!
It is a sad commentary, but I know many Ministers of the Gospel that focus so much on being a blessing to others that they neglect their own families. I know a preacher that is writing a book entitled, “How I allowed Ministry to Wreck my Marriage.” He was so focused on ministering to others that his marriage fell into disrepair. He wound up getting a divorce, but by the grace of God (and thankfully) he and his wife have remarried and he has a new found appreciation for the importance of his family. What would I gain if I were a hero to others, but a zero at home? I often say, “My first ministry is to my family!” I am currently home on leave and after being gone for 6 months I am tremendously thankful to God for these two weeks with my wife and children. My family is my responsibility and if I neglect that responsibility I will be accountable to God.
The Bible is full of Godly instruction for managing one’s household. God’s Word instructs us to train up our children in the way that they should go (Prov 22:6), to never exasperate or trouble them, but to instruction them in the way of the Lord (Eph 6:4), recognizing that children are a heritage and a reward from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). The Word also tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25). It tells wives to willingly love and support their husbands (Eph 5:22). And I could go on and on. The message is clear: we are to sow seeds of harmony and not discord into our family, remembering that we will reap whatever we sow.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should honor and respect your family. Recognize the blessing you have in your family and never mistreat those that the Lord has blessed you to be connected with. Honor your spouse – build them up and never tear them down. Protect and instruct your children – lead them in the way that they should go and live a Godly example before them. Be a blessing to your family. Never neglect them for the pursuit of fortune, fame, or the recognition of others. Will it really matter if you climb the corporate ladder, only to find yourself all alone at the top? When you walk in Godly counsel you can have success within and without the home! One without the other is NOT God’s best.
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for blessing me with my family. I declare, by faith, that I will never neglect my family. I will pray over my decisions and judge my decisions based upon Your Word, that way I know that I am making Godly decisions that will enable me to sow seeds of harmony and not discord. I want to experience the success You desire for me to have, but I don’t want to lose my family in the process. I will honor my family and I know that You will honor me. Success – within and without the home – that is Your best for me and that is what I pursue. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
(11:30) Capturing Human Lives for God!
(Prov 11:30 KJV) The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” I often quote this verse when teaching on soul winning (or evangelizing) and the latter part of the verse does emphasize evangelism, but before we get to the latter portion, let’s look at the first portion. Several places in the Bible God likens our lives to trees and the product of our lives to fruit. For those that live righteously – that make a commitment to live life God’s way – Solomon tells us that our fruit will literally be a tree of life. The term “Tree of Life” is significant, because it is what Adam and Eve had access to, prior to the original sin. The Tree of Life gave Adam and Eve access to eternal life. When they lost access to the Garden of Eden, they lost access to the Tree of Life. Jesus came to restore that access to us and it has been restored through His Blood. When we accept Jesus as Lord we are Born-Again by God’s Spirit, we become “the righteous,” and we inherit eternal life. This leads us to the latter portion of the text. If we truly believe we have eternal life in Christ, then we should want to share that Good News with those that don’t. However, the world does not openly welcome the message of the Gospel. For us to lead them to Christ we must have the wisdom of God. In addition to the traditional methods of teaching, preaching, street witnessing, and door-to-door evangelism, the Body of Christ today is using the internet, social networking sites, podcasts, streaming content, updated music (like contemporary Christian, Christian rap, Christian rock), Television, radio, and any other means we can use to win souls for the Kingdom. Solomon was right when he said, “He who wins souls is wise.” It takes God’s wisdom to reach some of the people that will simply not come through tradition means.
The Amplified Bible translation of this verse says, “The fruit of the [uncompromisingly] righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise captures human lives [for God, as a fisher of men – he gathers and receives them for eternity].” I like that – capturing human lives for God! Paul was excellent at this. He traveled around making a difference in the lives of people; capturing human lives for God. In his first letter to the church at Corinth he gives us some insight into his attitude towards soul winning. He said, “I am free. I don’t belong to anyone. But I make myself a slave to everyone. I do it to win as many as I can to Christ. To the Jews I became like a Jew. That was to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one who was under the law, even though I myself am not under the law. That was to win those under the law. To those who don’t have the law I became like one who doesn’t have the law. I am not free from God’s law. I am under Christ’s law. Now I can win those who don’t have the law. To those who are weak I became weak. That was to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that in all possible ways I might save some” (1st Cor 9:19-22). What an awesome attitude! He met people on their level. He spoke to them in ways that they could understand. He never condemned them for where they were, but rather led them to a better way. Paul was a master soul-winner and we can and should learn from him.
So what does this mean to you today? A couple of things:
1. Every believer has a responsibility to share the Good News of the gospel. You don’t have to know a litany of scripture, just simply tell your story; give your testimony. If you don’t know what to say, ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). It takes His wisdom to win the lost.
2. Don’t’ speak against what you do not understand. If a church or a group of believers is using an untraditional method, don’t speak against them; they may be led of God. Remember, God is the ultimate innovator and He bestows wisdom upon His people lead the lost to Him.
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for giving me eternal life through Your Son, Jesus the Christ. I know the Joy of my Salvation, therefore I want to share that Joy with others. Give me the wisdom that I need to win souls for You. I want to make a difference for Your Kingdom. Also, I refuse to speak against what I do not understand. I celebrate with those that are using innovative methods for You. I will use the wisdom that I have, for the methods that I know, and I celebrate with those who are using creative ways for You! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
(11:31) Receiving Your Due, Here on the Earth
(Prov 11:31 NIV) If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this verse Solomon reminds us of a truth that many seem to overlook, and that is that we will all receive our due here on the earth. I know (and I hope that you know) that we will all be judged some day. We will all stand before God’s judgment and be judged based upon whether or not we received Jesus as Lord and then what we did with our lives. But eternal judgment is not the only judgment. Judgment occurs all the time. Solomon reminds us that we (the righteous) will receive our due here on the earth. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) translates this portion, “Good people are rewarded here on this earth.” You can’t have reward without judgment. Our actions are constantly being judged. God created a system of laws and principles – sowing and reaping, cause and effect, and the free will of humans – that governs the earth. So, not only WILL we be judged some day, but our actions are regularly judged and we are either rewarded or punished accordingly. Jesus did not come ONLY so that we could make it to heaven; He also came that we might enjoy abundant life NOW (see John 10:10). However, most of God’s promises are conditional. If we fulfill the condition, we receive the reward. If we don’t, we miss out. That’s why I often say, “If you don’t like the harvest you are reaping, check the seed you are sowing.” At the end of the day, we are where we are, because of the decisions we make. This means we cannot blame God and we should not blame others. This takes us to the latter portion of the text.
After reminding us that we will receive our due here in the earth, Solomon says, “How much more the ungodly and the sinner!” The CEV translates this portion, “All who are cruel and mean will surely be punished.” What does this tell us? It tells is that the system of sowing and reaping, of cause and effect, works for everyone. Just like we are constantly being judged, they are as well. I believe Solomon wrote this as a reminder to us that we are NOT the judge. God will see to it that the ungodly and the sinner will receive their reward (or punishment). If anything, we should pray for them and ask God for mercy on their behalf, but we should concern ourselves will attempting to be judge and jury for God. No matter what people do to you, your job is to forgive them and pray for them. God will see to it that they get there due, here in the earth. Don’t attempt to do God’s job. And remember, their poison can’t stop your purpose! No matter how much they come up against you, trust God to protect you from every unrighteous attack.
So what does this mean to you today? A few of things:
1. God will make sure that you receive your due here in the earth. He wants you to make it to heaven, but He wants you to enjoy the ride as well!
2. If you don’t like what is happening in your life, you must change what you are doing.
3. God will ensure that the ungodly and the sinner receive their reward or punishment. That is NOT your job. If you want to do anything for the ungodly, pray for them.
4. Trust God to shield you from every attack. No matter who comes up against you, believe God to be your shield and your fortress! If God is for you, who can be against you?
Confession for Today: Father, I thank You for the reminder this morning that my life is a grand-sum-total of my decisions. I know that You want me to make it to heaven, but I also know that it is Your desire that I enjoy my life here in the earth. Jesus came that I might have and enjoy overflowing and abundant life. I declare that I want the life You want me to have. I make the right decisions and I receive the right results. I know that the ungodly will receive their reward or punishment and I will not inject myself into the process. I will pray for them and commit them unto You. I know that their poison cannot stop my purpose, therefore I am not afraid of what man can do to me. I trust in You and I know that You are my everlasting fortress – protecting me from all harm! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!