Proverbs Chapter 12

by Rick

(12:1) Discipline for Development

(Prov 12:1 NIV)  Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts those who love discipline with those that hate correction.  He tells us that whoever loves discipline loves knowledge.  The word knowledge is also translated as instruction.  Another translation says, “To learn, you must love discipline.”  Everyone who has committed themselves to life-long learning knows that it takes discipline to submit to the process.  Greatness is not achieved in a day, but it can be achieved daily.  Solomon understood the fact that God may have big plans for us, and He may very well want to operate mightily in our lives, but it is not going to happen if we do not cooperate with Him.  The Father can give us wisdom (insight for the application of knowledge) but we must obtain the knowledge.  We must give ourselves over to the process of reading, studying, and spending time with those that already are where we want to be; and all of this takes discipline.  If we want to grow we must embrace the discipline required for development.  Are you willing to do what it takes to get you to where you want to be?  George Elliot said, “It’s never too late to become the person you might have been.”  If you are still breathing, then God is not through with you.  He can still do all the things that you dreamed He would do through you, but you must submit yourself to the process of learning, growing, changing, and developing; and it will require discipline!

The latter part of the verse tells us that those who hate correction are stupid.  Now, I don’t like using the word stupid, but in this case I could not get around it.  I have about 30 translations of the Bible on my computer and most of them translated the Hebrew word here as stupid.  It actually does apply.  Webster’s definition of stupid is: given to unintelligent decisions or acts; acting in an unintelligent or careless manner; lacking reason; foolish; senseless.  All those definitions fit well.  Solomon was the wisest man in the land.  He was possibly the wisest human to ever live, outside of Jesus.  But even Solomon made mistakes.  Not even Solomon could get around the fact that we all need to be corrected.  As we seek to walk down God’s desired path for our lives, we will inevitably get off course from time to time and we will need course corrections.  Without these corrections we might make it to the end of the road – the end of our lives – and find out that we arrived at the wrong destination.  These course corrections are purposeful and very necessary.  None of us are perfect.  That’s why we should embrace correction and not fight against it.  That’s why Solomon calls those that do “stupid.”

The word translated stupid in our text is translated brutish in the King James Version.  18th Century theologian Albert Barnes, in his commentary of this verse, said, “Dumb as a brute beast. The difference between man and brute lies chiefly in the capacity of the former for progress and improvement, and that capacity depends upon his willingness to submit to discipline and education.”  If we fail to welcome and heed correction we will never become the people God desires for us to be.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you are human and your humanity brings with it a certain level of imperfection.  You are not always right, you don’t know it all, and you must resist the prideful impulses to believe that you do.  Learn to love discipline and submit yourself to the process of life-long learning in God.  It’s never too late to make the change that changes everything!

Confession for Today:  Father, I declare, by faith, that I have the discipline it takes to submit to a daily routine of personal development.  I submit myself to the process of life-long learning.  I know that I am not always right, so I welcome correction.  Holy Spirit, when I am off course, I welcome your course corrections, so that I can, and will, arrive at Your desired destination for my life.  I am not stupid.  I have the sense to know that I don’t know it all.  Teach me Father that I might become who You desire for me to be.  Speak Lord, your servant listens!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:2) Making Your Way Prosperous

(Prov 12:2 TNIV) Good people obtain favor from the LORD, but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts what God does for those who seek to walk in His way (the good) with what He does for those who do not (the wicked).  To understand what makes the good people in our text fall into the “good” category, we can simply contrast them with what Solomon tells us about the wicked.  Solomon is the clear that the wicked are in the practice of devising wicked schemes.  I believe it is safe to make the assumption then – even though Solomon is not explicitly clear on what makes the good people good – that, at a minimum, the good in the text are in the practice of devising good schemes (or plans).  In other words, they spend their day seeking for ways to be a blessing to others.  They know that they are in the earth to make a positive impact in the lives of others, so that they can bring glory to God.  To that end, they meditate on ways to do good, the devise plans to do good, and they put action to those plans; becoming the light and salt the Father desires for them to be.

To further explain this point, let’s look at something the Father said to Joshua, as he prepared to lead the people into the Promised Land.  Jehovah knew that Joshua and His people were going to face great opposition and He wanted to make sure that THEY DID all they were supposed to do, so that He would have NOT have a reason to withhold His blessing.  This is what He said to Joshua: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth (they were to speak God’s Word and His blessing continually); but thou shalt meditate therein day and night (they were to think about the Promises of God non-stop, as they prepared for battle), that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein (not only were they to speak good and think good, but God is a God of action; He expected them to DO good as well): for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”  (Joshua 1:8 my comments added in parenthesis).  Take another look at the latter portion of Joshua 1:8.  After Joshua and the people mastered their mouth (speaking the Word), their minds (thinking the Word), and their methods (doing the Word), it is clear that they would experience success; but to whom does God attribute the cause of the success?  Jehovah said, “Thou shalt make.”  In other words, we you speak, think, and do according to according to God’s will, then we will experience God’s best.  If not, we won’t, but it will not be God’s fault.  The onus is on us.

So what does Solomon tell us about those that devise wicked schemes?  He tells us that God condemns them, but really, as we have learned, they bring the condemnation upon themselves.  Hebrew word for “condemns” in this text is the word rasha.  This word means: to condemn as guilty; to be causatively wrong.  In other words, it means to be wrong because of one’s actions.  Later in Proverbs Solomon said, “The curse does not come without a cause” (26:2).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the law of cause and effect will be in operation in your life today, as it is everyday.  I am sure you have a laundry list of things you need to get done, but how you go about doing those things matters.  Your words, thoughts, and actions matter to God.  Seek to do things God’s way today, so that His favor can be upon your life.  I often say, “Favor can do more in a minute, than labor can do in a lifetime!”  So do things God’s way today.  Give Jehovah a cause to bless you and you will experience what I call “Sweatless victory!”

Confession for Today:  Father, I declare, by faith, that I master my mouth.  I line up my words with Your Word.  I speak life and blessing, never death and cursing.  I master my mind.  I cause my thoughts to align with Your thoughts.  I take captive every thought that is not pleasing to You.  I also master my methods.  Not only to I speak and think as You desire for me to, but I am a person of action.  I put action behind my words and thoughts.  I DO all that You desire for me to DO and therefore, I declare, that I make my way prosperous and I experience good success today.  Favor me Father as I enter this day, by faith!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:3) Deep Roots

(Prov 12:3 NLT)  Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts the stability (or lack thereof) of the wicked and the Godly.  The Father, through Solomon, wants us to know that a wicked life, a life without Him, is never really a stable life.  It may seem stable from time to time, it may seem like the ungodly are getting ahead, but in the long run, their wickedness will eventually catch up to them.

We all know people who cheat to get ahead.  Some place a “white lie” on their resume, or fudge a little on their taxes, or overcharge clients to make a bigger profit, or… you get the point.  Then there are those that are not subtle at all.  They seek success by any means necessary and they don’t care how many people they have to step on to get it.  They disregard their family, disrespect coworkers, and kiss-up to leadership, all to seemingly get ahead.  The problem is that although they might enjoy apparent success, whatever success they think they have will only be temporary, because they bought their success at the expense of their character.  Those with flawed character will eventually be found out.  Real success maintains personal integrity on the road to achieve it.  Later in Proverbs Solomon says, “There is a way that may seem right to a man.  But in the end it leads to death” (14:12).  These people may think they are on the right road, they may believe there are OK, but they have been deceived.  Success without God is not true success.  Yesterday we learned about Joshua 1:8 and that is what I call “God’s formula for success.”  The Bible actually calls it “Good success.”  If there is good success, then there must bad success, and bad success is success that is obtained through wicked means.  This success is deceptive and it will only be temporary.  If you want to live a strong, stable, and secure life, seek success God’s way.

This leads us to the latter portion of the text where Solomon tells us that the Godly have deep roots.  This is obviously a reference to a deep-rooted tree.  Another translation spells it out, saying: “You will be as secure as a tree with deep roots.”  One of the best pictures of this deep-rooted Godly success is found in the 1st Psalm.  The psalmist describes what he calls, “The Blessed Man.”  The Blessed Man is a man that seeks success God’s way.  He does not heed the counsel of the ungodly.  He does not spend quality time with persons of flawed character.  But what he does is spend quality time in God’s Word.  He meditates on the Word continually and the psalmist likens him to a tree that is planted by the rivers of water.  This tree has a constant supply of what it needs to grow (God’s Word), therefore, it is full of green leaves, it brings forth lots of fruit in season, and whatever it seeks to do prospers!  This is the type of success that you and I want – it’s success God’s way.  Godly success is not deceptive and it is not temporary.  Although we don’t know for sure what type of tree the psalmist had in mind when he wrote this, many believe it was a reference to a palm tree.  A palm tree that is planted by a water source is able to develop an exceptionally strong root system.  Storms can come, winds can blow, and the tree will still stand.  Some palm trees have even bent over to where the palms touch the ground, but because of the deep roots, they simply bounce back up again!

So what does this mean to you today? It means if you have not attained success by God’s standards, you have not achieved true success.  The wicked are never stable.  Their wickedness will eventually catch up to them, but if you have Godly success, you will be able to stand the test of time.  Come what may, you will bounce back, because you have deep roots!

Confession for Today:  Father, I know that it is Your desire that I live a strong, stable, and secure life in You.  To ensure that I do, I will pursue success Your way.  I am the Blessed Man.  I do not heed the counsel of the ungodly.  I do things Your way and I experience Your results.  I do not spend quality time with persons of flawed character.  I surround myself with people of like-precious-faith.  I meditate on Your Word and I allow Your standard to be the ruler by which I judge every decision.  I become like a tree planted by the rivers of water.  I have deep roots and I am able to withstand any storm – by faith!  I may bend, but I will not break!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:4) A Virtuous Wife

(Prov 12:4 GW) A wife with strength of character is the crown of her husband, but the wife who disgraces him is like bone cancer.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts the positive impact a wife of strength and character can have on her husband with the negative impact of a wife who brings him shame.

The Hebrew word translated “strength” in this text is the word chayil.  This word is also translated: ability, efficiency and wealth.  This is a wife to strong, able and competent.  This wife helps promote the family vision and she understands the importance of a good name.  Later in Proverbs Solomon said, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold” (22:1).  This wife understands the value of a good name and never does anything that would discredit her herself, her husband or her family.  She is an asset and not a liability.  She adds value to her family and becomes a source of strength, peace and encouragement for her husband.  Other translations call her: “A worthy woman,” “A virtuous woman,” “An excellent wife.”  To fully understand the goodness she brings to her husband, we need to take a look at the other side of the coin.  Solomon says that the wife who disgraces her husband – who does things that brings shame upon her herself, her husband and her family – is like bone cancer.  Another translation says that she is like “Rottenness in his bones.”  Her actions eat away at her husband from the inside-out.  Bone cancer cannot be seen by others, but it can definitely be felt by the person who has it.  Little-by-little they lose strength, mobility, agility, and eventually the affects of the physical condition begin to spill over to the person’s psyche.  Although they might put up a strong external façade, they are rotting away.  The husband who has a wife that eats away her family tries to remain strong, he may put up an external façade, but eventually her deteriorating actions wreak havoc upon him and the entire family.

The Good News is that our goal is the opposite.  Understanding the detrimental effects of the shameful wife helps us better appreciate the Blessing God has given us in our spouse.  If the shameful wife eats away at her husband from the inside out, then the opposite is also true.  The virtuous wife becomes an everlasting well of power, strength and encouragement.  My wife is a woman of God.  In addition to being a wonderful mother, a caring and capable nurse, and a reliable friend, she is the wind beneath my wings.  Second only to God in my life, I understand that my life’s assignment is woven in with hers and hers with mine.  We are partners in life’s journey and I am where I am today – and I will be where I will be tomorrow – because of the wife the Lord has blessed me with.  The greatest thing Isabella does for me is believe in me.  She supports the vision the Lord give me, she is understanding when I make mistakes (because we all do), and she provides that voice of reason I need.  With all the failed and failing marriages in the world, we (as believers) should live our lives as examples of God’s best in the earth.

So what does this mean to you today? To wives it means: realize who you are in God and who God has made you to be for your husband and family.  Seek to be the everlasting well of strength and stability your husband and family need you to be.  To husbands it means: thank God for your wife.  Brag on her today.  Tell of the Blessing the Lord gave you in her.  And treat her like the queen she is.  I am going to do something a little different on the confession for today.  I will give you different confessions.  Confess that one that applies to you:

Confession for Husbands to confess over their Wives:  Father, I thank You for my wife.  I will love her, respect her, and appreciate the gift You gave me in her.  I will never allow anything negative to proceed from out of my mouth about my wife.  My wife is a jewel and an everlasting well of strength, stability, wisdom and encouragement for me and our family.  I speak life over her body, her mind, and her heart.  Bless her Father to continue to be the blessing she is and bless me Father to do all that I can to be a blessing to her.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Confession for Wives to confess over their Husbands:  Father, I thank You for my husband.  I declare, by faith, that I am the virtuous, worthy and excellent wife of strength of character that my husband and my family need me to be.  I will never bring shame to my husband, to myself, nor to our family.  Our family name will continue to be a name of honor and excellence.  Help me Father to speak life into my husband, to build him up and never to tear him down.  Thank you for the wisdom I need to be the wife, mother, and friend You need me to be.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Confession for Singles:  Father, I thank for helping me to be secure in my state of singleness.  I declare, by faith, that I develop into the person You need me to be and You help me to prepare to be the blessing my future spouse needs me to be.  While You prepare me, I am peaceful, patient, and satisfied in my current state.  I love who I am and I thank You continually for making me who I am.  I don’t need anyone else to complete me.  I am complete, whole, and blessed – today and every day!  If/when that time comes for me to connect in holy matrimony with other person I will be able to do so with full confidence that I am prepared to be the spouse You have destined, designed and desired for me to be!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(12:5) Godly Advice

(Prov 12:5 NIV) The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts the thoughts/plans of the righteous with the advice/counsel of the wicked.  His point is that we must be very careful where we get our counsel (or advice) from.  I teach a Wednesday night Bible Study here in Iraq entitled, “Living By Faith.”  As believers, we are called to live the life of faith.  To operate in faith, we must operate in the Spirit.  Why?  Because God is a Spirit and He relates to us in Spiritual ways.  Last night I started a new series of lessons entitled, “Developing the Language of Faith.”  As believers, we are to speak a certain language – a language rooted and grounded in the Word of God – and that language will be different from the language of the wicked.  Oftentimes, the wicked will not understand why we say what we say and why we do what we do, because we believe different things.  We are supposed to be different, and that is OK.  There is actually a danger is trying to explain what we do to a person that does not believe what we believe.  They will not be able to understand why we do what we do and it often ends in ridicule.  The wicked ridicule what they do not understand.

Paul explains this well in his first letter to the church at Corinth.  Paul said, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God.”  Why Paul?  Why did God give us His Spirit?  Paul goes on to explain: “That we may understand what God has freely given us.”  See, God’s Spirit is the author of the Bible and when we read the Bible, the author Himself can sit down with us and help us understand.  God’s ways are above our ways and without His insight we can never truly grasp His revelation.  Paul continues: “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.  The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (see 1st Corinthians 2:12-14).  There is no better way to say it!  God is a Spirit and He speaks to us in Spiritual ways.  Most of the time, spiritual things do not make sense.  The best the wicked can do is attempt to make sense of everything, but spiritual things don’t always make sense.  Why?  Because God is Spiritual, not sensual.  That’s why His truths seem like foolishness to the unbeliever.

This leads us back to our text.  Solomon warns us about seeking the advice of the wicked.  The Psalmist gave us a similar warning when he said, “Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people” (Ps 1:1).  As believers, if we need any counsel, if we are to seek any advice, we should get it from people of like-precious-faith.  If not, we might place ourselves in danger of heeding the wrong counsel.  I have seen many young believers go to unbelievers to seek advice about a struggling marriage, for example.  In many cases, the advice they received was contrary to the Word of God.  If the young believer is not careful, they will heed the voice, do the wrong thing, and reap the wrong harvest.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you must be very careful who you seek counsel/advice from.  Know that the advice of the wicked is deceitful.  It might sound like good advice in the moment, but in the long run you will wind up somewhere you really don’t want to be, and it will not be God’s fault.  So seek Godly counsel and ensure that your decisions line up with God’s Word.  Make the right decisions and you will get the right results!

Confession for Today:  Father, I do not seek the counsel of the ungodly.  I realize that You are a Spirit and that I must relate to You in Spiritual ways.  I know that unbelievers call your counsel foolish, so I will simply not seek their counsel.  I apply Your truth, I line up my thinking with Yours, I make decisions that line up with Your Word, and I know that I will receive Godly results!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:6) The Power of Your Words

(Prov 12:6 MSG) The words of the wicked kill; the speech of the upright saves.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts the negative force behind the words of the wicked with the positive force behind those of the upright. We have all heard the childhood cliché, “Sticks and stones may break by bones, but words will never hurt me.”  That phrase may have worked on the playground, but it does not work in real life.  Make no mistake, words can help or hurt.  Our words are so important that I have taught several series on Today’s Word about the power of words; series like: “Mastering Your Mouth,” “The Revelation of Your Confession,” “Developing the Language of Faith,” and “The Message in Your Mouth.”  The Bible is full of things to say about the importance and relevance of our words.  Later in Proverbs Solomon said, “Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim” (15:4).  This is not allegorical.  Solomon is clear when it comes to expressing how important are words are.  They can either help us (and others) down the road to success or derail us (and others) altogether.  In the 18th chapter Solomon said, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose” (18:21).  Did you get that?  You get to choose what kind of words you are going to speak.  You get to decide whether or not you will speak life or death, blessing or cursing, success or defeat.  I hope that if you are reading Today’s Word it is because you are determined to grow and develop in God.  If you are, then I know your plan is to speak life!

James said, “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.”  How big is a bit in comparison to a horse?  Pretty small.  But James explains that the person controlling the small bit can dictate the direction of the large horse.  He goes on to say, “Or take ships as an example.  Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.”  How big is a rudder in comparison with a naval vessel?  Miniscule!  But James explains that if the pilot controls the small rudder, he can direct the enormous vessel.  James continues, “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.  Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (see James 3:3-5).  The message is that if we are able to control our small tongue – the 3oz. piece of flesh in our mouth – we will be able to control, steer, and direct the course of our lives!  Not only that, if we choose our words wisely we will be able to build up and be a blessing to others as well.

Are words are so important to God that Jesus Himself said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give an account for every thoughtless word they have uttered” (Mat 12:36 NIV).  The Greek word translated “thoughtless” in this version is translated “idle” in the King James Version.  In the original language it is a word that means: unproductive; lazy; free from labour.  Jesus’ point was that we should use our words on purpose.  If what Solomon said is true (and it is), then our words can either kill or save.  We will have to give account for how we used, or failed to use, the power the Father gave us in our tongue!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your words are absolutely critical to the course of your life and they can affect the course of the lives of others as well.  Choose your words wisely.  Never speak death or defeat over your family, your health, your career, your finances, or your life.  I know we are in the middle of an economic downturn, but many are making their situations worse by speaking words of fear and failure.  Don’t let that be you.  Believe God!  Live by faith!  Speak life!  Use your words to help steer your life towards God’s best!

Confession for Today:  Father, I realize that my words can either kill or save, they can either build up or tear down, and I declare, by faith, that I will use them for good and never for evil.  I will speak life, blessing, success and victory over my life and the lives of my family daily.  I refuse to allow unproductive words to govern my speech and I resist every impulse to speak words of fear, failure, doubt and unbelief.  By controlling my tongue I am able to dictate the direction of my life!

(12:7) Generational Blessing

(Prov 12:7 TNIV) The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous stands firm.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  At first glance it’s hard to tell what Solomon is getting to in this verse.  I initially thought that the message Solomon was teaching was one of ‘getting back up again.’  I thought he was saying that the righteous are able to fall, but recover (see Prov 24:16), whereas the unrighteous fall and stay down.  But after looking at this verse from several translations and after reading what scholars had to say about it, I now see that Solomon was looking at the long haul.  The Good News Bible translation of this verse says, “The wicked meet their downfall and leave no descendants, but the families of the righteous live on.”  This message is a message about the long legacy of the righteous vs. the short-lived lineage of the unrighteous. 

God is a family oriented God.  He started with a family in the garden (Adam and Eve), re-started with a family in the desert (Abraham and Sarah), and conquered the kingdom of darkness by solidifying His eternal family through the cross and resurrection (in Christ).  To understand this verse we must take a step back from the way that we normally look at things.  God’s ways are above our ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts (Is 55:8,9).  You and I, as humans, have a propensity to be shortsighted.  A year seems like a long time to us, but not to God.  The Bible says, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (Ps 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8).  When God looks at us He sees us and our seed.  He sees our children and our children’s children.  When Jehovah blesses a man He is blessing a lineage.  When God makes a change in a man He is changing his entire legacy.

A couple of years ago a I preached a message entitled, “Living Legacy Minded.”  In that message I said: “Remember that your life is TOO SHORT and God is TOO POWERFUL for Him to only impact your life:  If God blessed you every day of your life, but your legacy died with you, it would STILL be a failure to God.  Your life MUST outlive your years!”  That’s what Solomon is talking about here.  He understood this first-hand.  He knew that he was where he was, because of the legacy his father left him.  Solomon inherited the Blessing from David.  Solomon stepped into the throne, because of the decisions his father made and Solomon knew that his children would be blessed or cursed, because of the decisions he made.  Solomon understood what the Psalmist wrote in the 112th Psalm, saying, “Blessed is the man who fears the LORD… His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.  Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.”  And just like the Father releases the Blessing over children, because of the actions of their parents, the opposite is also true.  The Bible says that He visits the iniquity of fathers to the third and fourth generation (see Ex 20:5, 34:7; Num 14:18; Deut 5:9).

So what does this mean to you today? Two things:

1.  The unrighteous have a lineage that will fail:  It may look like the unrighteous are getting ahead right now, but in the long run their actions will catch up with them.  If you want to do anything for them, pray for them.  Pray that someone in their lineage will change the direction of their family.

2. The righteous have a linage that will remain:  Know that the decisions you are making – decisions to pray, to honor God, and to seek His face – are decisions that have a lasting impact.   You are making decisions that your grandchildren will benefit from!  That’s Good News!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for being a Legacy Minded God.  I thank You for leading me to make decisions that will positively impact my lineage.  I receive reassurance from Your Word today that no matter what things may look like in the temporal, my family heritage is a heritage of righteousness and the Blessing that is on me will pass on to my children and my children’s children.  No economic downturn can stop what You want to do in my life and lineage!  Thank You Father for a generational blessing!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:8) How are you using your abilities?

(Prov 12:8 NIrV) A man is praised for how wise he is.  But people hate those who have twisted minds.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  As Solomon continues his antithetical proverbs, here he compares the reputation of the man who operates in wisdom with the reputation of the man who has a twisted mind.  To be true to the text, let’s look at a couple of definitions.  The word translated “wise” in this text is the Hebrew word sekel, which means: possessing the ability to be discrete; prudent; sensible; possessing understanding.  The word translated “twisted” in this text is the Hebrew word avah, which means: to do amiss; to make crooked; to commit iniquity; perverted; to do wickedly; to do wrong.  The reality is that both men are doing something.  Both men are active, alert and industrious.  They have both decided to put their minds to work.  They are both determined to be men of action.  It is with this dog-minded determination that they seek to make their impact on the world.  The difference is that one is seeking to use his ability to impact the world in a positive way, while the other uses his ability negatively.  They both have ability, they both have an inner-drive that keeps them going, and they are both committed to seeing their plans come to fruition.  However, society accepts one and rejects the other.  Society gives one the Nobel Prize and the other a death sentence.  Solomon says that one is praised, while the other is hated.  One is applauded and admired, while the other rejected and despised.  Why?  Because one used his God-given ability for good and the other for evil.

Hebrew word avah I mentioned earlier is also the word where we get whicker or whickered.  A picture of whicker furniture is a good example of how twisted the minds of some men become.  They head down the road of unrighteousness and before they know it, they are deeply entangled in their own minds.  Some of the most brilliant minds in history have done the most harm, because, at some point, they became twisted and they did not even know it.  Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Jeffrey Dahmer and the like, all spent countless hours devising elaborate plans to do harm to others.  I am sure that Osama Bin Laden has convinced himself, in his own mind, that what he is doing is right.  I am sure that the man who straps a bomb to his chest, enters a crowded market, and detonates the bomb, killing himself and countless others with him, has convinced himself that what he is doing is right.  I am sure that he spent a great portion of his time nursing and rehearsing his plan.  He calculated what he wanted to do and he performed it with eerie accuracy.  The problem is that these people were deceived.  The enemy was able to pervert their ability, so that their talents – talents that could and should have been used for good – could be used for the kingdom of darkness.  All these, and others like them, have a reputation, but not a reputation that any of us would desire.  They are known, but they are known for the wrong reasons.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the type of reputation that you build is entirely up to you.  You can use your God-given abilities for good or you can use them for evil – the choice is yours.  However, if you subscribe to Today’s Word, then I believe you want to use your abilities in ways that are pleasing to God.  If you do, if you are diligent and determined to apply the talents God has given you for His glory, then Solomon tells you this morning that you will be praised.  You will build a reputation for doing good, for making good decisions, and for being a person that can be counted on.  As you do, you will be commended and the Father will be glorified.  Are you determined to use what God has given you for His glory?

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for exposing the enemy to me.  I shall not be deceived and my mind shall not be perverted.  I think on things that are pleasing to You.  I devise plans that bring You glory.  I put my hands to DO things that build up and do not tear down.  I make a positive impact in my sphere of influence, today and every day, for Your glory!  I build a reputation for being a person of Godly character, possessing a tireless work ethic, and one who consistently makes good decisions!  Glorify me, that I may glorify thee!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:9) Sound Financial Decisions

(Prov 12:9 MSG)  Better to be ordinary and work for a living than act important and starve in the process.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts those that live within their means, even if it means living modestly, with those that live to impress others, even if it means putting up a façade. This is great advice today, especially with the current state of the US economy.  Many get caught up in “keeping up with the Jones’ ” and don’t realize the long term detrimental affects that poor financial decisions and poor spending habits can have on themselves, their children and even their children’s children.

In Biblical times your family name was very important (and it still should be today).  Families that were well off had servants.  Abraham, for example, had over 300 servants.  In Solomon’s day, if you had servants, those servants were part of your household and therefore your responsibility.  When you took on servants you took on the responsibility to care and feed for them, in addition to your own direct family.  Other translations of this text mention servants, because some people back then would rather keep a servant, to maintain a certain level of status within the community, even when they knew they could not properly provide the for servant and their own family.  Some would rather starve than to be honest about their financial condition.  The pride of maintaining a their family name and their family tradition led some men to make every attempt to “look the part” in public, while they were literally starving at home.  Instead of releasing their servants and living within their means, their pride kept them bound in a bad situation.

Today the issue is not servants, but the problem still exists nonetheless.  Keeping up with the Jones’ is a serious issue for many.  A parallel today would be the person that buys a big house, but then can’t afford to put furniture in it.  I have driven by many nice homes with sheets in the windows.  Why buy a home with a mortgage so high that you can’t even afford curtains?  I know why.  The answer is pride.  The allure of the neighborhood, and unscrupulous lenders, have drawn many families into making poor decisions.  The same can be said for the person who bought the luxury car, but then can’t afford the gas.  Their car looks nice, but it has to sit on the driveway.  The Good News Bible translation of this verse says, “It is better to be an ordinary person working for a living than to play the part of someone great but go hungry.”  In the next chapter Solomon plainly says, “Some people pretend to be rich but have nothing” (Prov 13:7).

So what does this mean to you today? The message is simple this morning: live within your means and be thankful for what you have.  You don’t have to keep up with anyone.  I am a person that likes nice things, but I seem to like them more when I pay cash.  When I joined the military I did not know anything about debt.  I had a low financial IQ and I made my share of mistakes.  But thankfully I learned from them and I was able to get out of bad debt.  Solomon is very practical this morning.  If he were sitting here, I believe he would say (in modern English): “Spend less than you make; live to please God, not others; make sure that you practice the BIG TWO: giving and saving (both short and long term); and be at peace with yourself.  If you are at peace with yourself, you won’t feel undue pressure from others to make poor financial decisions.” 

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for teaching me Your Word in personal and practical ways.  I will apply this Word, I will live by sound financial principles, I will live within my means, I will be both a giver and a saver, and I will only be concerned with living up to YOUR standard.  I resist any pressure from society.  I don’t have to keep up with anyone.  I make Godly decisions about my finances and I am able to live the strong, stable and secure life You desire for me to live; so that I can leave and inheritance to my children’s children!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(12:10) Genuine Concern for all Life

(Prov 12:10 Darby) A righteous man is concerned for the life of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts the way that the righteous and the wicked treat their animals.  The translation I chose uses the word “beast,” whereas modern translations use the word “animal.”  For example, the New International Version says: “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.”  My thinking was that most people today, when they read, “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal,” immediately think of a pet.  In all fairness to Solomon, in his day it was uncommon for people to give animals names, to dress them up with human-like clothing, to get their nails done, hair groomed, and to treat them like a child; a part of the family.  Some people today treat their pets better than they treat their own children.  Being that I grew up in Brooklyn, in a small apartment, I never had a pet and I have never owned one.  So I cannot comment as a pet owner or a pet-lover.  But I believe it is necessary for us to disavow ourselves from our modern treatment of pets, to get the true message, in context.  In Solomon’s day animals were used for their utility.  Some, like donkeys, mules and horses were beasts of burden.  They were used to transport people and equipment.  Others, like oxen, were used for their tremendous strength.  Farmers yoked up oxen together to pull farming equipment that would help prepare the ground for sowing.  And then, of course, there were the animals that produced food, like the chickens (eggs), cows and goats (milk).

As a child I would visit my grandmother in the Dominican Republic.  She lived out in the country with no running water, no electricity, and basically no modern amenities.  Life out there was simple, but it was awesome.  It was a great departure from the streets of Brooklyn and it afforded me the opportunity to work with animals.  I helped my uncles farm land, I rode horses, milked cows, and tried not to get the chickens too riled up as I attempted to play with their chicks.  I can understand what Solomon is saying.  I watched as my uncles sought to treat the animals well.  They made a conscious effort to provide the animals water, sufficient food, and to simply not overwork them.  My uncles taught me to understand the value of the animals and to treat them accordingly.

Solomon tells us that a righteous man is so compassionate that he is not only concerned with the lives of other humans, but he has a genuine concern for his animals.  Since his heart is in the right place, he simply treats all life well.  He does not mistreat an animal, just because they are not human.  The reason I had to disavow us from our modern connection to pets is because most people are emotionally tied to their pets.  But Solomon is teaching us that even if the animal is not a pet, even is the animal is a beast of burden, even if the animal is simply used to work the fields, even if we have no emotional connection with the animal whatsoever, we still need to treat it with respect; that’s what the righteous do.  The wicked, on the other hand, even their kindest acts are considered cruel by our standards.  The wicked are so wicked (twisted) that they can’t seem to treat anyone – human or animal – with dignity and respect.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that when God softens your heart you inherently seek to be a blessing.  You are never out to do anyone, or anything, any harm.  You are so accustomed to treating others with dignity and respect, that you even show compassion and genuine concern for the animals of the field.  Please remember that as you enter this day.  If the Father expects you to have a genuine concern for animals (and He does), then how do you think He expects you to treat the people you are going to come in contact with today?

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for softening my heart towards all life.  I would not mistreat an animal, much less a person.  I seek to BE a blessing, not a burden, everywhere I go.  I have a genuine concern and compassion for all those I come in contact with.  Father, use me today to be an example of Your love, light and mercy in the earth.  Use me for Your glory!  In

(12:11) Work Your Land

(Prov 12:11 TNIV) Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts those who make a conscious decision to work their land with those who simply daydream the time away.  If you have been following this series for any amount of time you should be able to tell that Solomon was not a fan of lazy people.  One of the reoccurring themes of Proverbs is that diligent work leads to prosperity, while laziness leads to poverty.

Solomon starts out by telling us that those who choose to work their land will have an abundance of food.  In other words, those who make a decision to maximize their opportunities will reap the benefits of their hard work.  For us today, our work may not be farming, but we all have something to do.  Whether it’s a calling to pursue, a business to run, a career to develop in, or a home to manage, we all have an opportunity and a responsibility to work.  In Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica, he plainly said, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2nd Thes 3:10).  Paul did not have a lot of tolerance for laziness.  From the time he was a boy he was diligent and dedicated to working.  Before he came to Christ he persecuted the church with passion and zeal; and after coming to Christ he used that same passion and zeal to promote the Kingdom.  If you look at any of the people God used mightily in scripture you will find that none of them were lazy.  Why?  Because I have told you many times that God is not in the business of forcing us to do anything.  He wants to operate in our lives, but He needs us to cooperate with Him.  This means that if God is going to do great things in and through us, we must have the discipline and the inner drive to work with Him daily.  If we choose to sit around, idly doing nothing, He will simply work through someone else; someone who is willing to work.

The latter part of our text says that those who chase fantasies have no sense.  Another translation tells us that they simply daydream the day away.  They neglect their business, they waste company time and resources, and they hurt themselves by not moving forward.  If you fail to move forward – by having a daily routine of personal development – you will eventually go backwards.  In other words, if you don’t choose to progress you are choosing to regress.  This reminds me of a series of commercials that used to run when I was a kid.  The commercials were about going to college and the catch phrase was, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  Those that waste their minds away by carelessly and endlessly daydreaming, when they should be active and industrious, will eventually awaken from the daydream only to find themselves in a situation they do not want to be in.  If working your land leads to abundance and prosperity, then you the opposite must also be true.  Wasting your time away leads to lack and poverty.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should work your ground today, whatever that ground is.  I often say, “We are not called to sit, we are called to serve.”  Serve God today by being diligent over the work He has blessed you to have.  Face every challenge head-on, knowing that you are blessed to be where you are.  You are there to make a difference, but you won’t if you are lazy.  Don’t daydream your and your company’s time away.  Do more than is expected of you.  Remember, you are representing Christ.  You are His ambassador.  When people come in contact with you, they are coming in contact with God’s Kingdom.  Don’t give them the wrong idea!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for blessing me to be able to work.  I put my hands to work and I do it diligently.  I am faithful over my time and the time/resources of others.  I do not waste my day away by aimlessly daydreaming.  I put my hands to DO all that You have blessed me to DO today.  I know that You want to operate in my life today and I declare, right now, that I WILL cooperate with You.  You and me Father, together, let’s go and make a difference!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:12) Free to be Me!

(Prov 12:12 NLT)  Thieves are jealous of each other’s loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts the jealousy of thieves with the contentment of the Godly.  Growing up in Brooklyn many of my friends decided to go down a path that I chose not to follow.  They got into selling (and some taking) drugs, stealing, and all sorts of illegal behavior.  While I chose not to join them in their activities, there were still my acquaintances nonetheless and I got a front-row seat to world of the wicked.  I watched this group of teenagers as each made thousands of dollars a week.  The problem was that they were never secure.  They were never at peace.  Even though they were making lots of money, they still sought to cheat, trick, con, or simply steal from others.  I heard countless accounts of drug-deals gone bad.  Why?  Because no matter how much they had, they were never satisfied and they always kept their eye on the person who had more.  If they drove a Toyota Celica, they envied the one who had a Toyota Supra.  The one with the Supra envied the one with the BMW.  The one with one gold chain sought to steal from with one with 10.  It was one big cycle of mayhem.  I know that in the movies they glamorize gangsters and those who do wrong, often using the phrase, “Honor amongst thieves.”  But for me, from my experience, I never saw it.  I never saw anything close to what I call honor amongst those who chose the path of the ungodly.

Jealousy is birthed from a dissatisfaction with one’s self.  No matter how much you HAVE, if you are not satisfied with WHO you are, you will never be able to shun the green eye of jealousy.  But that’s where Christ comes in.  When you give your life to Christ you become complete for the first time in your life.  Prior to that moment, prior to being Born-Again, we all walked around with a void that we tried to fill, but the only thing that can really fill the void is the PERSON who created the void in the first place: the Holy Spirit Himself.  When Adam ate of the forbidden fruit he died spiritually, he lost the Holy Spirit, and Jesus died to bring Him back.  Adam created the void; Jesus came so that it could be filled.  When we accept Christ as Lord the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, we are Born-again, and for the first time the void is actually gone.  We receive a supernatural peace that the world cannot take away.  Once we have this peace, once we are complete in Christ, we don’t need to be jealous of anyone else.  We can be satisfied with ourselves and seek to grow wherever the Lord plants us.  The psalmist said: “The godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.  For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house.  They flourish in the courts of our God.  Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green” (Psalm 92:12-14).  Once you are “the Godly,” you no longer have to concern yourself with useless comparisons with others.  Your goal becomes growing where you have been planted.  Producing your own fruit and being used of God to make a difference.

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

1.  As a believer you must learn to be content within your own skin and your own purpose.

2.  Once you realize that you have your own assignment, you spend your time, talent, and treasure seeking to maximize that assignment before you die.

3.  Believers that understand their assignment are not threatened by the assignments/successes of others.  Learn to celebrate the diversities in the Body of Christ.  God did not give you what He gave me, but He did not give me what He gave you.  This frees you to be you and it frees me to be me!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for making me unique and precious in Your Kingdom.  I am a one-of-a-kind!  I have my own purpose and I will seek to fulfill my own assignment.  I am not threatened by the successes of others, because they have their own assignments.  I celebrate with them and I appreciate it when they celebrate with me.  I am satisfied and content with who I am, therefore I have no need to be jealous.  Thank You Father for freeing me to be ME today and every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:13) Use Your Words Wisely

(Prov 12:13 GNB) The wicked are trapped by their own words, but honest people get themselves out of trouble.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts how the words of the wicked get them IN trouble, whereas the words of the righteous keep us from it.  The Bible has a great deal to say about the importance of our words.  Here Solomon lets us know that the wicked are literally entrapped by the own words.  Another translation says, “ensnared.”  Just like a bear trap ensnares a huge bear and keeps him entangled and restricted, so it is with the words of the wicked.  Since their heart is not pure, they routinely speak words that do not line up with God’s word.  Speaking lies are commonplace for the wicked, but the problem is that sooner or later the liar inevitably contradicts himself, thus getting himself in trouble with his own lips.  Not only that, but the wicked are programmed to speak fear, doubt and unbelief.  They see nothing wrong with saying things like, “This doesn’t look good,” “I don’t think this is going to happen for us,” “I’m afraid the whole thing is falling apart,” “I can’t seem to make it through the day,” “I don’t know if I can take another day like this,” “I can’t keep my home in this economy,” and the list can go on and on.  Without even knowing it, the wicked entrap themselves with their own words.  Solomon tells us that the righteous, however, use the same vehicle (their mouth) to speak life and instead of getting them into trouble, their words keep them from it.

I recently read a book entitled, “Commanding Your Morning” by Dr. Cindy Trimm.  In her power-packed book Dr. Trimm said many things about the importance of our words.  Let me share just a couple of quick quotes from her book:

The power of the spoken word is one of life’s greatest mysteries.  All that you will ever be or accomplish hinges on what you choose to come out of your mouth.  By what you allow to occupy your mind and mouth you can either bless your life to great heights of success or send it orbiting into realms of failure, sadness, and discontent.”  “Consciously choosing your words is like putting together the right combination of brick and mortar.  Just as the great architects have taken raw materials to build skyscrapers and timeless monuments, your words are the raw materials that can form the life you are meant to live.”

One of the greatest ways to use our mouths to keep us from trouble is to approach God in prayer.  It is with words that we communicate with God and we release Him to move in our lives.  In Job 22 we see the importance of coming to God in prayer; it says, “You will make your prayer to Him, and He will hear you, and you will pay your vows.  You shall also decide and decree a thing, and it shall be established for you” (Job 22:27,28).  What are you deciding and decreeing over your life and over the lives of your loved ones?  If you are speaking the wrong words, you will get the wrong results.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your words can either entrap you or keep you from the trap, so please choose them wisely.  Never speak words of fear, doubt or unbelief.  Command your morning with words of prayer and then reinforce your prayer with words of faith all day long.  You can’t speak faith in the morning and fear all day and expect to see results.  Speak faith, speak life, speak victory, speak God’s best over your life and over the lives of your family daily!  If you do, your words will not entrap you, they will protect you from being trapped!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for giving me the ability to think, believe, speak and act.  I choose to fill my heart with good things.  I read, believe and apply Your Word.  Your Word fills my heart, so that my mouth will speak out of the abundance of it.  I speak life and never death, blessing and never cursing, victory and never defeat!  I refuse to ensnare myself with my own words.  Conversely, I use my words to keep me from the traps of the enemy.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:14) Words and Action

(Prov 12:14 CEV) We are rewarded or punished for what we say and do.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon’s message in this verse is very clear.  He has taught us over and over again how important our words are and here he emphasizes the fact that our words of faith must be backed by actions of faith.  Speaking words is one thing, but we must be prepared to DO all that we say, in faith, by the grace of God.  A good example of this is the story of David and Goliath.  The story is long, so I will attempt to summarize it.

We know that Goliath had been taunting King Saul and the entire Israeli army for 40 days.  David shows up on the scene, hears what Goliath is saying (negative words) and he ready to DO something about it.  David, still a teenager at the time, stood before King Saul and said, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”  Do you hear the faith in his words?  He had not doubt in his heart.  He was completely confident.  This was a 17yr. old kid coming up against a 9ft. tall warrior, but David was not scared, because God was with him.  He knew that he + God = victory!  Every time!  Guess what Saul did?  He tried to discourage David.  Saul said, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.”  Saul just flat-out told David that he could not do it.  So what did David do?  Did he throw in the towel?  Did he get scared?  He allow Saul’s words of discouragement and defeat negatively affect him?  No!  David never repeated the negative words spoken to him and David never spoke fear, doubt, or unbelief. He simply ignored Saul’s comments and said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father.  Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb.  If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it.  Lion or bear, it made no difference – I killed it.  And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive.”  Wow!  David said a mouthful there.  He looked back to look forward.  He remembered what God had done for him in the past and he used his past experiences as motivation for his present obstacle.  He was bold, he was confident, he was convinced, he spoke with conviction, and best of all, he was ready to back up his words with ACTION!

So Saul gave David his shot.  The fate of the entire nation was resting upon the shoulders of a 17yr. old.  When David finally got to stand before the giant, Goliath said, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?”  Goliath was upset that a little boy came out to fight him.  But David had a few words of his own.  David said, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty… This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head… the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands”(1 Kings 17:45-47).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that with God all things are possible; it means that you are only limited by your capacity to believe God; it means that your words must align with God’s opinion of you; and it means that you must learn to overlook and ignore discouragement if you are going to be the person God desires for you to be!  David spoke Faith-Filled words and he backed up with his with action.  Are you ready to do the same today?

Confession for Today:  Lord God, I believe that all things are possible for me.  I look at every situation through the lens of faith.  My speech is seasoned with the language of faith.  My determination comes from the inward confidence I have in you.  I am able to overlook and ignore words of discouragement and I am able to focus in on and be fueled by Your Word.  I am who You say that I am.  I can do what You say that I can do.  I can go where You say that I can go and if you be for me, no one can stop me!  I speak Faith-Filled words and I back up my words with action.  I shall be rewarded by what I say and do!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:15) The Counsel of the Godly

(Prov 12:15 NIV)  The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts the wise man that listens to advice, with the fool who refuses to seek the counsel of others.  Actually, Solomon has already taught us a great deal about this.  Let’s do a quick recap:

In chapter three Solomon said, “Do not be wise in your own eyes” (3:7).  Matthew Henry commented on that verse and said: “There is not a greater enemy to the fear of the Lord in the heart, than self-conceit of our own wisdom.”  In chapter 10 Solomon said, “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray” (10:17).  We all have a level of influence over others and when we fail to seek, receive and apply Godly counsel, we will inevitably lead others astray.  Some day we will have to give account for the impact (good or bad) we have had on others.  In chapter 11 Solomon said: “There is safety in having many advisers” (11:14).  Solomon understood the fact that leaders cannot accomplish everything by themselves.  Great leaders surround themselves without other gifted leaders and then utilize their resources for the collective good.  John Maxwell says, “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”  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 has been vetted by other great minds.  And finally, earlier in this same chapter, Solomon said: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (12:1).  If we want to grow we must embrace the discipline required for development.  George Elliot said, “It’s never too late to become the person you might have been.”  But if we want to become that person, it is going to take others.  If we are honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge the fact that we have not made it to this stage of our lives alone, and if we are going to make it to the next level, it will require the assistance (wisdom, guidance, support, etc.) of others.

This takes us back to our verse for this morning.  What keeps a fool a fool is his (or her) refusal to seek, receive and apply the counsel of others.  He thinks he is always right, therefore he does not ask for any advice.  Since he never checks his ideas with anyone, he has no way of gauging the soundness of them.  He comes to his own conclusions and he becomes wise in his own mind.  However, the wise seek counsel; they listen to advice.  That’s what keeps them from becoming the fool.  They desire to receive wise counsel.  They acknowledge the fact that they simply don’t know it all.  So they value the input of those who have gone before them, who are where they aspire to be, who have the experience to show for it, and who are willing to make the investment in the lives of others.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you clearly need, and should welcome, the counsel of others.  Seeking counsel from those that can provide you coaching, teaching and mentorship is a sure-fire way to receive and develop wisdom.  It’s what keeps the wise, wise.  But if you develop a “know it all” mentality and refuse to seek or receive counsel, you will be the fool Solomon speaks of.  Someone said, “A conceited person never gets anywhere because he thinks he is already there.”  Don’t let that be you today!

Confession for Today:  Father, I know that wisdom can be transferred by association (Prov 13:2), therefore I choose to surround myself with the wise.  I seek Godly wisdom and I make the time to avail myself to those who are where I desire and aspire to be.  You have given them Godly success and they have a willingness to share their wisdom with others.  I shall be one of the people they pour into.  I make a demand on the wisdom they have and I declare, by faith, that I shall be worthy of the investment they are willing to make in my life.  I receive and apply the counsel of wise men and this attitude will make and keep me wise!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(12:16) Are you in Control of Yourself?

(Prov 12:16 NLT) A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts how the wise are able to maintain control over their emotions when insulted, while the foolish are quick-tempered and lose control easily.

Some people are better at leading than others, but since we are all leaders (to some extent), we should all develop the leadership traits required to be successful in life.  One of the greatest things a leader can do is to work on is leading himself well.  If you can’t lead yourself well, you are not going to be effective at leading others.  What Solomon teaches us this morning is that a wise person is able to control him or herself, while a fool easily loses control.  The example Solomon uses is an insult.  Now, insults are not nice and there are almost never welcomed.  It’s not like you and I go around asking to be insulted, but if we are, we must have self-control required to not ‘fly off the handle.’  If we allow our external to dictate the condition of our internal we will never be able to live a stable life.  Our external is going to fluctuate.  There are days where we are going to like what happens and days where we will not like what happens, but either way, as a believer, we should have the ability to maintain an internal stability, even when everything (externally) is unstable.

I can use Solomon’s father (David) as a good example.  A few days ago I taught you about his encounter with Goliath.  Before David ever got to fight Goliath he had to deal several negative people.  First his eldest brother (Eliab) berated him in front of the Israeli soldiers.  David was simply inquiring about Goliath and what would be done for the person who fights him, when his brother – upset about the fact that David was picked over him (in 1st Samuel chapter 16) – publicly scolded and sought to humiliate David in front of his peers.  This was a golden opportunity for David to retaliate.  He could have fought fire with fire.  He could have allowed his brother’s anger and insults to stir up his own anger.  But what David do?  He simple ignored his brother and continued on with his mission.  When he finally got to stand before the king and he told Saul that he was ready to fight, Saul did everything but laugh at David.  Saul flat-out told him that he could not fight Goliath.  The king publicly told him that he was too young and too inexperienced.  So how did David react?  Did he allow those negative words to discourage him?  No!  He simply ignored them, he went on to convince the king that he could do it, and he then got his chance.  The rest, as they say, is history.  But what if David had allowed his brother’s anger or Saul’s doubt to stir up negative emotions in his life? What if David had gotten upset?  Well, he would have never defeated Goliath and I would not be talking about him today.

Later in Proverbs Solomon said, “A foolish person lets his anger run wild.  But a wise person keeps himself under control” (29:11).  That’s the point here.  We must be in control of our emotions, our mind, and ourselves if we are going to be successful in life.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we are called to walk by faith, not by feelings (2nd Cor 5:7).   When someone annoys or insults you, your first reaction may be to retaliate, but you must develop the ability to control your emotions.  Solomon also said, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1).  Instead of responding to anger with more anger, if you learn to speak a gentle word to a volatile situation you will actually be controlling your internal, which will in turn have a direct affect on your external!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for helping me to develop the ability to control and lead myself well.  I will not allow my external to dictate the condition of my internal.  I walk by faith, not by feelings.  I rule over my emotions and I don’t allow my emotions to rule over me.  I develop patience and self-control.  I speak gentle words to volatile situations.  My words of peace are able to disarm and calm the angry.  I am a peacemaker, not a peace-breaker!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:17) Speak the Truth!

(Prov 12:17 NIV)  A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon has already done a great deal of teaching on integrity and I have shared that a person of integrity is a person that is fully integrated (Spirit, Soul and Body).  I have also heard it said that honesty is being true to others, integrity is being true to one’s self.  In this case Solomon warns us against those who are neither true to themselves or others.  Telling a lie is bad enough, but doing so under oath is even worse.  We should speak the truth whether we are under an oath to do so or not, but after taking such an oath, after publically vowing to speak the truth, to then lie is to break the oath, disrespect the court, disregard the judicial system, and dishonor God.

Modern society seems to have lowered its standards in many areas, but make no mistake; God’s standards have never been lowered.  The Father expects us to say what we mean and to mean what we say.  Whether in a court or in common conversation, whether under an oath in court or just hanging out with your friends, your words matter to God and they should matter to you.

Over the years I have developed more of a tolerance for people’s mistakes.  God has shown mercy to me and I have grown in my ability to show mercy to others.  But one thing that is hard for me to get over is if someone lies to me.  If I know that someone just flat-out lied, then it is extremely hard for me to trust that person.  Solomon’s father David could not stand liars.  He said, David said, “I hate and abhor falsehood” (Psalm 119:163).  Hate and abhor are strong words, but this is a strong subject and the severity is warranted.  We serve a God who “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2).  Our God is a God of truth.  He never says one thing and means something else.  He never misleads us.  He never misguides us.  He never deceives us.  Our God is a true God and if we are His children, we should be children of truth.

Jesus had some pretty strong opinions about the subject as well.  He never lied – not even once – and He expected His followers to be honest.  In John chapter 8 Jesus had a confrontational conversation with a group of Jews that were coming up against Him.  Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here.  I have not come on my own; but he sent me.  Why is my language not clear to you?”  I know that we like to think of the nice, compassionate, and loving Jesus, but Jesus was also bold, strong, and confrontational when He needed to be.  He spoke against sin and He rose up against unrighteousness.  He did not cut any corners when speaking to this group.  He was clear that God was not their Father.  He went on to say, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.  He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:42-44).  Wow!  Jesus made it plain.  The devil is a liar and the father of lies.  Lying is satan’s native language, so when you speak lies you are lining yourself up with satan, not Jehovah.  Is that where you want to be?

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that you should speak the truth.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  I have seen numerous business deals solidified within members of my family with nothing more than a handshake and a word.  Why?  Because we were taught to believe that our word is our bond.  If you want your words to matter you must speak the truth.  If you build a reputation for being a liar, no one will trust you with anything.

Confession for Today:  Father, I know that You are a God of truth.  Therefore, I declare, by faith, that I am child of truth.  I speak the truth in love.  I refuse to lie.  I speak the truth, even when it is uncomfortable and unpleasant.  My word is my bond.  I shall be known as a person of integrity and honesty.  Because my words matter to me, they will matter to others!  I what I mean and I mean what I say!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:18) Using Your Words for God’s Intended Purpose

(Prov 12:18 TNIV)  The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon goes back to the power of words.  You just can’t get around it.  One of the most powerful weapons the Lord gave us is our tongue.  If you look at the “Armor of God” in Ephesians chapter six you will see that Paul describes six pieces in the armor.  They are: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  Five of the six pieces are completely defensive in nature.  The only offensive weapon we have against the kingdom of darkness is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  The question then is: how do we yield this sword?  How do we engage it against the enemy?  The answer is simple: with our tongue, by speaking God’s Word.  That’s why Solomon later said, “Your tongue has the power of life and death” (Prov 18:21).  The same tongue that can be used to tear down can be used to build up.  The same power that can be released against the enemy and his kingdom can also be released against another human and the results can be disastrous.

I am currently deployed in Iraq and during deployments service members carry their weapons (with ammunition) wherever they go.  Safety becomes a major concern for leaders, because a mistake made by an undisciplined soldier, with access to live ammunition, can cost lives.  That’s what Solomon is getting to here.  He says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords.”  Those that don’t understand the power of the tongue speak reckless words and it is as if they are yielding a reckless sword.  All because they don’t understand how powerful their words are.  Pastor and author Dr. Myles Munroe said, “When purpose is unknown, abuse is inevitable.”  If you don’t understand the purpose of the tongue – how God intended it to be used to build up others and tear down the kingdom of darkness – you inevitably abuse others with it.  Author and poet Pearl Strachan Hurd said, “Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”  Misplaced words can have devastating affects.  Later in Proverbs Solomon said, “Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim (15:4).  Don’t be the one who uses his tongue to wound and maim.  Use your tongue for God’s glory.  Use it as a vehicle of positive change.  Use it as an instrument of good.  Heed the words of Paul when he said, “Be gracious in your speech.  The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (Colossians 4:6).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your tongue can be used to speak life or death, health or healing, it can provide medicine or poison, it can help or it can hurt, so be very careful how you use it.  Be slow to speak (James 1:19), consider your words carefully.  Ann Landers said, “The trouble with talking too fast is you may say something you haven’t thought of yet.”  Think your words through.  Speak them with purpose, so that you can release the power and potential the Father put in your tongue.  And unless you absolutely know what you are doing, never speak cutting and destructive words.  Just because they come up in your mind, it does not mean that they have to come out of your mouth.  Winston Churchill said, “By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.”

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for giving me the revelation of the importance of my words.  My tongue can either release blessing or cursing, life or death, medicine or poison.  I declare, by faith, that I use my tongue to build up others and to tear down satan and his kingdom.  When speak to others I release words that act as a healing balm.  My speech is season with Your grace and I become a channel through which You release Your blessing upon others.  However, when speaking against the kingdom of darkness, I use my tongue as a sword.  I release the Word of God and it becomes the Sword of the Spirit.  Your Words, spoken through my mouth, releases Your power, authority, dominion and might in the earth!  You and me Father, together we make a difference today and every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:19) Truth Stands the Test of Time

(Prov 12:19 NLT) Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  This verse flows in the same vein as the one from two days ago (v.17).  In that message I pointed out how Solomon’s father (David) hated falsehood and how Jesus identified satan as a liar and the father of lies.  Jesus told us that lies are satan’s native language.  Needless to say, that’s not the language we, as children of God, should aspire to speak.

In this verse Solomon tells us that truth stands the test of time, but lies are quickly exposed.  When you speak the truth you can confidently hold your ground against any attack and investigation, but the liar gets nervous if someone questions their claims.  Liars know that if an investigation is made, the truth will come out and they will be exposed.  The problem is that oftentimes an investigation is not even required.  Those that are accustomed to lying are simply inconsistent.  They tell one story today and another story tomorrow and it is hard for them to keep track of what was said to whom, so inevitably, their inconsistencies catch up with them.  Before long they build up a reputation for being a person of questionable character.  People like this are never exalted, celebrated, or rewarded in history books.  Hence, they don’t stand the test of time. Think of the many people we read about today – both biblical and non-biblical characters – that have stood the test of time, because they were people worthy of mention.  They were men and women of integrity.  If they were liars or people of questionable character, their names would not echo through the halls of time.

So what does this mean to you today? It means you should speak the truth and I will give you three more reasons why:

1.  It’s a requirement of being Spirit led: Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).  The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth and part of His role in our lives is to lead us into all truth.  As a Born-Again believer, truth must be your way of life.  You can’t be led of God’s Spirit and lie at the same time.  The Spirit of God will never lead you contrary to the Word of God.

2.  It will help you be at peace with yourself:  Paul said, “With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness.  My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it” (Romans 9:1).  Not only should the Holy Spirit confirm the things that we say, but our conscious should as well.  When we speak lies our conscious eats away at us (or at least it should).  As a believer you should not be able to speak lies without being convicted.  So, if you want to be at peace with God and yourself, simply speak the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or unpleasant.

3.  It will help you build the right reputation: In the closing words of John’s third letter he said, “Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius, as does the truth itself.  We ourselves can say the same for him, and you know we speak the truth” (v.12).  We don’t know much about Demetrius, other than the fact that everyone spoke highly of him.  He was obviously a person of strong character and conviction, especially for John to mention him in this letter. Demetrius’ name will now live on forever.  He is mentioned in churches all over the world and he has been for thousands of years.  Why?  Because his character became his commendation.  Universal integrity often commands universal respect and recognition.  Can the same be said of you?

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for filling me with Your precious Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of Truth lives in me and He guides me into all truth.  I allow myself to be led of Him and I know that He will never lead me to lie.  As I speak the truth I maintain my peace with You and with myself.  My conscience can be at rest, because I know I speak the truth in love, no matter how unpleasant or uncomfortable.  I speak the truth every time and in every situation.  I am a person of integrity and my character becomes my commendation!  I shall be known as a child of truth and my life shall stand the test of time!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:20) Planning Peace

(Prov 12:20 NLT) Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil; joy fills hearts that are planning peace!

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  After driving home the fact that we should be men and women of truth, who speak the truth, operate in integrity, and seek to do everything in a way that pleases the Father, Solomon here makes the connection to our heart.  He explains to us that if we spend our days plotting, scheming and planning for ways to do evil, our hearts will be filled with deceit.  However, if we spend our days planning and daydreaming about ways to be a blessing to others, then our hearts will be filled with joy.  The point being that our heart condition will have a direct affect on our disposition.  Jesus compared our heart to a tree and our actions (and words) to the tree’s fruit.  If the tree itself is bad (if our heart is corrupt and full of deceit), then the fruit will be bad (our words and actions will show it).  This life-lesson is Matthew 12.  Jesus said, “A tree is identified by its fruit.  If a tree is good, its fruit will be good.  If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad… For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.  A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart” (verses 33-35).  Another translation says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Since it is clear that what’s in your heart can/will affect every area of your life, then what you fill your heart with is obviously important.  Your heart receives input from your eye gate and your ear gate.  What comes through your eyes (what you watch) and what comes through your ears (what you listen to) will eventually get down into your heart.  If you watch something over and over again or if you listen to something over and over again, the repetitious information (good or bad) will begin to fill your heart.

There are only 24 hours in a day and we should want to use our time, energy, and effort in ways that will please God.  It does no good to waste time devising schemes to do wrong.  We ought to seek to be a blessing, even to those that don’t treat us well.  Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28,28).  Paul said, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves…  Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.”  And then Paul, summing it all up, says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (see Rom 12:12-18).  That’s the bottom-line.  God expects us to do all that we can to live at peace with everyone.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a choice.  You can either fill your heart with good things, which will help you to seek for ways to be a blessing to others, or you can fill your heart with evil things, and you will find yourself always looking for ways to attack others.  But just know that either way you will reap whatever you sow.  If you sow discord you will reap discord and your heart will be filled with deceit.  If you sow peace you will reap peace and your heart will be filled with joy.  Take it from me: joy is better!

Confession for Today:  Father, I know that I am here to bless and not to curse, to help and not to hurt, to build up and not to tear down.  Therefore, to ensure that I maximize my time in the earth, I declare, by faith, that I filter everything that comes through my eye and ear gates.  I ensure that my fill my heart with good things.  The good in my heart keeps me from wasting my time devising evil schemes.  My heart shall not be filled with deceit.  My heart shall be filled with joy, as I seek to please you and live at peace with everyone.  Father, use me today to speak a kind word to someone who is down, to lend a listening ear to someone who needs to vent, to give a hug to someone who is frustrated, to be a blessing to all those I come in contact with.  What am I doing?  I am planning out my day of peace!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:21) Protection and Peace

(Prov 12:21 TNIV) No harm overtakes the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts the protection the righteous enjoy with the vulnerable position of the ungodly.  From time to time I look back over my years of walking with the Father.  I gave my life to Christ on August 27th, 1995.  Since then I can say that I have truly been blessed.  Now, can I say that it has been challenge-free?  Can I say that after giving my life to Christ everything has been easy?  Of course not!  Bad things do happen to good people, but the message is that if we are walking with the Father we know that we can face every challenge with His grace.  If He is on our side, then we have the confidence that we will come out on top.  No matter what it looks like, no matter how hard it gets, no matter the opposition, if God is FOR us, then He is more than the whole world AGAINST us (Romans 8:31).

I like the word Solomon used to describe our protection.  He said that no harm “overtakes” the righteous.  This same word is used many times in scripture with a military connotation; when one army overtakes another.  The winning army comes in to overcome, overpower and overthrow their enemies.  The Father, through Solomon, reassures us that this will simply NOT happen to us.  Its not that evil will not come, but it will not be able to overcome, overpower or overthrow us.  When we walk with God we will be able to STAND!  The Message Bible translation of this verse says: “No evil can overwhelm a good person, but the wicked have their hands full of it.”  That’s makes is abundantly clear.  We will NOT be overwhelmed.  The weapon may be formed, but it shall not prosper against us (Isaiah 54:17).  On the other hand, the opposite is true.  As we walk with God and obey His commands, we shall be overtaken, but with The Blessing, not the curse.  In Deuteronomy 28 Moses said: “If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.  All these blessings will overtake you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God…” (verses 28:1,2).  Did you get that?  As the righteous, we shall be overtaken, but with good and not evil!

I feel led to give you more scripture on this, to build up your faith for protection this morning.  The Psalmist said: “If you make the Most High your dwelling — even the LORD, who is my refuge — then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (91:9-11).  Isaiah said: “You will pass through deep waters.  But I will be with you.  You will pass through the rivers.  But their waters will not sweep over you.  You will walk through fire.  But you will not be burned.  The flames will not harm you” (Isaiah 43:2).  And finally Paul, in his last letter, said: “The first time I was put on trial, no one came to help me.  Everyone deserted me.  I hope they will be forgiven for it.  The Lord stood at my side…  I was saved from the lion’s mouth.  The Lord will save me from every evil attack.  He will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.  Give him glory for ever and ever, Amen” (2nd Timothy 4:16-18).

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that the Father looks out for His children.  Now, that does not mean that everything is going to be easy, but it does mean that if you walk with God you will come out of every situation victorious!  When trouble comes you will have the faith and confidence to literally trouble your trouble with your God!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for Your Word this morning.  Your Word builds up my confidence in You and in Your protection.  I know that I will face challenges, but I will come out on top.  You give me the victory and I receive it by faith.  I walk by faith and not by sight.  I am an overcomer!  I am a conqueror!  I am a child of the Most High God!  I can walk through the fire and not be burned.  I can come out and not even smell like smoke.  If trouble comes my way, I operate in faith and I trouble my trouble.  I enter this day with fearless confidence in Your protection and power and that confidence gives me unshakable peace!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:22) Operate in Truth!

(Prov 12:22 GNB) The LORD hates liars, but is pleased with those who keep their word.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  The Lord, through Solomon, has already said quite a bit about lying, and here He addresses it again.  Whenever you see something repeated over and over again in scripture, it is because the Father is driving home a point.  I believe that by now the point is clear: The LORD hates liars! Now, you may be thinking, “Hate is a strong word.”  Well, if you think that is strong, let’s take a look a the King James Version.  It says, “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD…”  How’s that for being strong?  Maybe Solomon learned to take this strong stand against lying from his father David.  David said, “You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.  The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.  You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors” (Psalm 5:4-6).

Back in chapter six (verses 16-19) we learned about the seven things that God hates and “A lying tongue” was listed among them.  It is not that He hates the sinner, but He does clearly hate the sin.  He actually loves the sinner and commands us to do the same, but that does not mean that He will overlook sin and bless mess.  Why?  Because He expects us to do better.  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and to deliver us from the very power of sin.  John explained it well when he said, “When people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning.  But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.  Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them.  So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God” (1st John 3:8,9).  Later on, in the last book of the Bible (The Revelation of Jesus Christ) John spoke of all those condemned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  Guess what?  Liars are listed among them.  Let’s look at what he said, “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death” (Rev 21:8).  That’s pretty bad company.  If you subscribe to Today’s Word, then I assume that is not the type of company you want to be grouped with.  The second part of the verse is what you should focus in on.

The Father is pleased with those who speak the truth.  The Message Bible says, “… He loves the company of those who keep their word.”  He is the Truth; therefore He enjoys spending time with those who operate in truth.  If you want the Father to enjoy spending time with you, you must be a person of truth.  Learn to love what God loves and despise what He despises.  Your displeasure with lying and liars will keep you from crossing the line and become one.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your actions matter to God.  The Lord is not going to simply overlook sin.  If you want to walk with Him and you want Him to walk with you, then you must take His Word seriously.  He wants to spend time with you, but He will not spend time with a liar.  Now, does that mean that you, as a believer, are sinless?  No.  But it does mean that you should sin less! You should not practice sin.  Sin should no longer be your lifestyle.  So, speak the truth, seek to live a life that is pleasing to God, and you will find that He will enjoy spending time with you!

Confession for Today:  Father, I am not a sinner, I am a Blood-bought, twice-born, Spirit-filled believer!  I don’t practice sin.  Lying is not my lifestyle.  I am a person of integrity.  I speak the truth in love.  I say what I mean and I mean what I say.  I refuse to allow my words to entrap me.  I walk in the light, as You are in the light, and the Blood of Jesus, Your Son, cleanses me from all sin.  I walk in the newness of life today and that newness requires me to operate in truth!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(12:23) Hold Your Tongue

(Prov 12:23 MSG) Prudent people don’t flaunt their knowledge; talkative fools broadcast their silliness.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts how the wise, in their prudence, are able to hold back their words and only speak them at the right time; whereas the foolish are so talkative that they broadcast their silliness.

Have you every met a truly wise person?  Who do you consider wise?  Whoever they are, the chances are that they are not people of many words.  They carefully think through what they are going to say and how they are to say it.  Their words are premeditated and they come across as insightful and thought provoking.  The thought behind their words causes us to think.  They have spent years learning and accumulating knowledge and they are at the point in their lives that they are wise enough to only share what they know, when it needs to be shared.  I often say, “The right thing at the wrong time becomes the wrong thing.”  I guess in this case I could say, “The right words at the wrong time become the wrong words.”  The wise hold back their words until the right time, so that when they speak their words can be received, understood and applied.

Theologian John Gill, in his commentary on this verse said: “Of things natural or divine, which he is furnished with; not but that he is willing to communicate it, as he should, at proper times, in proper places, and to proper persons; but he does not needlessly and unseasonably speak of it; he does not make a show of it, or boast and brag of it: he modestly forbears to speak of what he knows, but when there is a necessity for it, even of that which may be lawfully divulged; which is a point of prudence and modesty; otherwise it is criminal to reveal secrets, or publish what should be kept private or should not be known.”

The Good News Bible translation of this verse says, “Smart people keep quiet about what they know, but stupid people advertise their ignorance.”  If it is true that the wise man is able to hold his tongue and only speak the right words at the right time, then the opposite is also true.  The fool has no control over his tongue.  The saying, “He can’t hold water,” applies to the fool in this case.  He is always flowing.  His mouth is stuck in the “on” position.  Just like the wise person is a person of few words, the fool speaks non-stop.  This is dangerous behavior for anyone, but much more for the fool.  He does not have the wisdom the wise man has, and therefore, his constant speech exposes his ignorance.  There is a saying (attributed to too many people to give any one person credit) that says: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”  The fool speak so much that everyone knows that they know, and the sad reality is that they don’t know much.  Invariably their much speaking gets them in trouble.  Austin O’Malley said, “If you keep your mouth shut you will never put your foot in it.”

So what does this mean to you today? It means that it is prudent to be careful about what you say and how you say it.  Only share what needs to be shared, when it needs to be shared.  This way your words will matter to others, because they will realize how much they matter to you.  If you spend your days babbling, you will eventually get to the point where you won’t even believe what you say!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for Your wisdom.  I am the prudent wise man, not the talkative fool.  I take the time to ensure my words are premeditated and calculated.  The thought behind my words inspires thought in the hearers.  I am dedicated to life-long learning and I thank You for teaching me Your wisdom, found in Your Word, but I will not allow arrogance to cause me to dilute what I know, because of a prideful spirit.  I will speak out of humility and grace and my words will be received, believed and applied!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(12:24) Hard Work will be Rewarded

(Prov 12:24 MSG) Work hard, and you will be a leader; be lazy, and you will end up a slave.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon reminds us that hard work is rewarded, laziness is not.  In Solomon’s time laziness could actually open the door to slavery.  Without getting too deep into the slavery discussion, I will simply say that when nations fought against nations, kingdoms and against kingdoms, or armies against armies, the losing entity often had to surrender up a portion (if not all) of their people to serve as forced labor.  So, in context, Solomon’s words make sense when he tells us that the lazy had a better chance of winding up as slaves than the hard workers.  But even if we forget the political practices of the time, the proverb indicates that laziness inevitably leads to poverty and servitude.  In chapter 10 Solomon said, “He becomes poor who works with a lazy hand, but the hand of the diligent brings wealth” (10:4).

If you look at any of the people that Jesus selected to be on his staff, you will quickly find that they were all working.  They were all doing something.  They were all industrious.  Even if we go back to the Old Testament and look for examples within the strange political and social climates of the time, it will not take you long to find people that were rewarded for working hard.  Let me give you a couple of examples:

1.  Daniel:  In the book of Daniel Israel became one of the nations on the losing side I mentioned earlier.  Daniel would up as an Israelite slave under the hand of the Babylonians.  But Daniel worked hard and his hard work would not go unrewarded.  He made his way up the ranks quickly, to the point where chapter six says: “It pleased Darius to appoint 120 royal rulers over his entire kingdom.  He placed three leaders over them.  One of the leaders was Daniel.  The royal rulers were made accountable to the three leaders.  Then the king wouldn’t lose any of his wealth.”  Did you get that?  King Darius setup a system where he had 120 rulers over provinces and three rulers over them.  Daniel – a man who was supposed to be a slave in captivity – wound up being one of the three rulers over the 120.  But wait, it get’s better.  The Bible goes on to say, “Daniel did a better job than the other two leaders or any of the royal rulers.  He was an unusually good and able man.  So the king planned to put him in charge of the whole kingdom.”  Wow.  Daniel did so good of a job that the King decided to place him over the three.  There was no one above Daniel but the King himself.  A man who was supposed to be a slave would up being the second in command, because he worked hard.

2.  Joseph:  Joseph’s story is too powerful to tell it all, so I will only mention a portion of it, the part about his work in Potiphar’s house.  In Genesis 39 we learn that Joseph was sold as a slave to an Egyptian officer named Potiphar.  The Bible says: “The LORD was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did… Potiphar noticed this and realized that the LORD was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.  This pleased Potiphar, so… He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned.”  The only thing Potiphar concerned himself with was what he was going to eat that day.  Joseph was in charge of everything.  Why?  Because the Lord blessed all that he DID!  But that’s the point.  If he was lazy and did not do anything, the Lord would have nothing to bless!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God expects you to work diligently.  Later on in Proverbs Solomon said, “Observe people who are good at their work – skilled workers are always in demand and admired; they don’t take a back seat to anyone” (22:29).  If you will be faithful to work, God will be faithful to bless the work of your hands!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for blessing me to be able to work.  I work diligently and faithfully.  I put my hands to DO all that You have blessed me to do and I know that You will bless the work of my hands.  I overcome laziness, slothfulness and procrastination.  No matter what others may think of me initially, my work will speak for itself.  Because I work hard and Your hand is upon my life, I can’t help but move up.  The higher I go, that more You can be glorified in what I do!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(12:25) Do Not Worry!

(Prov 12:25 NLT) Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts the destructive affects of worry, with the positive impact encouraging words can have on people.  I often say that worry is a form of negative meditation.  Biblical meditation is powerful.  Spending time meditating on God’s Word, His promises, His wisdom, His opinion of us, and His desired end for our lives is awesome.  Meditating on His Word feeds our faith (Rom 10:17) and starves our doubts.  That’s why the Bible tells us to meditate on God’s Word day and night (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1).  But just like meditating on God’s promises can build us up, meditating on negative situations can tear us down.  Uncontrolled negative thoughts can lead to psychological, physical and emotions problems.  They create an instability that can be damaging to the person and everyone around them.  Solomon makes it plain when he says, “Worry weighs a person down.”  Instead of sitting around thinking about the problem and telling your God how big your problem is, why not sit around and think about your God, so that you can tell your problem how big your God is?

It is clearly NOT God’s will for us to worry.  The Bible has a great deal to say about it.  Let’s take a look at what John MacArthur said on the subject:

Jesus categorically prohibited worry in a familiar portion of the Sermon on the Mount—Matthew 6:25-34. Three times in that short passage He commanded, “Do not worry!”, and the way He said it shows the comprehensiveness of His charge. In verse 25 He acknowledges worry as a common practice and says, “Stop worrying;” in verses 31 and 34 He uses the same word, but in a way that means “Don’t even start worrying.” To continue worrying about anything, or to start worrying in the first place, is to violate the Lord’s command… When you worry, you are choosing to be mastered by your circumstances instead of by the truth of God… When you worry, you are not trusting your Heavenly Father.”

Jesus also said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Mat 11:28).  It is simply NOT God’s will for His children to walk around burdened, frustrated and disillusioned.  Paul said, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything… Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand” (Phil 4:6,7).  Peter said, “Turn all your worries over to him. He cares about you” (1st Peter 5:7).  Another translation of that same verse says, “Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.”  So, instead of carrying your cares around, you should simply cast them to God.  Turn them over to the Father.  When you do that, you will be free to be the example of peace and love He desires for you to be.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the Father needs you to be worry and stress-free, so that you can be the witness He needs you to be.  If all people see in you in stress, struggle and strain; pain, pressure and problems, then how will you ever draw them to God?  He needs you to be encouraged, so that you can speak the encouraging words to others that will pull them out of their discouragement!  So don’t sit around today meditating on your problems, meditate on the promises of God, build your faith, cast your cares upon God, encourage yourself, and then go out to encourage others!

Confession for Today:  Father, I meditate on the right things.  I fill my mind and my heart with Your Word and Your promises.  I know You love me.  I know that You will not allow me to face what I cannot handle.  I know that by Your grace I can overcome every obstacle – by faith.  I know that I am destined to win.  I know who I am and whose I am.  Therefore, I refuse to worry.  I don’t carry care, I cast it!  I turn it over to You.  I encourage myself in the Lord and after doing so, I seek to encourage others by speaking life into them.  I do all this by faith and with Your help!  Use me Father me be light in someone’s darkness today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:26) Godly Friends

(Prov 12:26 NIrV) Godly people are careful about the friends they choose.  But the way of sinners leads them down the wrong path.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts how the Godly choose their friends wisely, while the ungodly make friendships with the wrong people.  I grew up in a pretty bad neighborhood.  My mother was very concerned about who I chose to be my friends.  Almost daily she would say: “Son, show me who you hang with and I will tell you who you are.”  In other words, she was saying, “Show me your friends and I will show you your future.”  The people we choose to associate ourselves with says a great deal about us and more importantly, their influence can (and most likely will) directly affect our lives.

Solomon is teaching us that if we DO NOT choose our friends wisely, the friends we choose (the ungodly) will eventually lead us down the wrong path.  Countless people have wrecked their lives by connecting with the wrong crowd.  In the next chapter Solomon explains this well by saying, “Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces” (13:20).  From this verse we learn that both wisdom and foolishness can be transferred by association.  There are clear advantages to choosing the right friends.  Let’s look at a few:

1.  You get the safety of wise counsel:  Earlier in this series we learned: “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).  When you surround yourself with the right people, you will receive the right feedback when you bounce your ideas off of them.

2.  Your character is protected:  In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth he was addressing a myriad of issues within their church.  The church had allowed unruly conduct to spread like wildfire.  Paul addressed the issues in many ways, but one thing he said that I want to highlight is: “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” ” (1st Corinthians 15:33).  He did not mince words.  He was clear that if you hang with corrupt people, you will eventually be corrupted.

3.  You remain sharp:  One of the greatest benefits of having Godly friends is that they keep you sharp.  You are able to grow together.  Later in Proverbs Solomon said, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (27:17).  If you want to remain sharp, you must surround yourself with sharp people.  A true God-friend can help keep you sharp in the Spirit, letting you know when you are getting off track.  We all need that!

So what does this mean to you today? It means having the right friends is awesome.  We all need people to share our life experiences with.  Everyone needs a Paul: a mentor, guide, someone who is already where they want to be, and who is willing to pour into them.  Everyone needs a Timothy: someone they can mentor, who wants to be where they already are, and who is willing to be poured into.  Everyone needs a Jonathan: someone on equal par with them, someone to share life experiences with, someone they can sharpen and to keep them sharp!  Do you have all these in your life?  If not, ask God to lead you to them.  When you have Godly friends the Father can use them to help keep you on the course to His desired destination for your life!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for Your Word.  Your Word is awesome and it applies to every area of my life.  I declare, right now, that I have a Paul in my life.  I have someone I look up to, who is already where I want to be, who can pour into my life!  I have a Timothy, someone who wants to be where I already am, someone I can pour into and make an investment in.  And I also have a Jonathan, a covenant brother, someone on my same level that can keep me sharp and who I can sharpen.  I surround myself with the right people, who give me the right input, that influence me in the right way, so that I can arrive at the right destination for my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(12:27) Hard Work is Rewarded!

(Prov 12:27 GNB) If you are lazy, you will never get what you are after, but if you work hard, you will get a fortune.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon, once again, contrasts the rewards of hard work with the perils of laziness.  This is a reoccurring theme in the Bible, both in precept and by example.  Let’s look at the two:

In precept:  This truth is taught over and over again.  A few verses prior to this one Solomon said, “Work hard, and you will be a leader; be lazy, and you will end up a slave” (v.24).  If you read a few verses past this one you will find Solomon saying, “People who refuse to work want things and get nothing.  But the longings of people who work hard are completely satisfied” (13:4).  Back in the 10th chapter Solomon said, “He becomes poor who works with a lazy hand, but the hand of the diligent brings wealth.”  Paul said, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2nd Thes 3:10).  Jesus said, “My Father is always working, and so am I” (John 5:17).  And believe me, there are many, many more.

By example:  If you look at the people God used mightily in scripture you will find something that they ALL have in common, and that is that they worked hard.  None of them were lazy.  Joseph proved himself in Potiphar’s house and got promoted.  His refusal to sleep with his boss’ wife got him thrown in prison.  But it did not take long before he was running the prison.  A few years later, because of his diligence, he became second in command of the most powerful nation on the planet.  Solomon’s father David was promoted from shepherd boy to Godly King because of his diligence.  He worked hard in his father’s house, in seeming obscurity, but the hard work he did in the dark was rewarded in the light.  Peter stood out from the other disciples.  He was always out front, asking questions, stepping out by faith, bugging Jesus to learn more.  Did Peter make his share of mistakes?  Yes.  Did he fall into the water?  Yes.  But he was the only one to get out of the boat and when it came time to select one of the disciples to start the New Testament church it was Peter who was selected.  You may know that Paul wrote half the New Testament, but you may not know what he went through to do it.  By his own admission he was a hard worker.  Paul said, “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea…  I have been in danger from rivers, bandits, my own countrymen, and from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea…  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep” (2nd Cor 11:23-27).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that becoming a Christian does not give you the right to spend the rest of your life sleeping the presence of God.  No! The word diligent (in some form) appears over 60 times in the Bible.  If you want to end up where God wants you to be at the end of your life, it is going to take WORK.  If you are lazy you will never get there.  So determine today, right now, that you will do whatever the Father needs you to do, to arrive at His desired destination for your life.  You are not called to sit, you are called to serve and you serve Him by DOING all that He leads you to DO!

Confession for Today:  Father, I see how you used diligent and dedicated men and women all throughout the Bible.  I read all the admonitions you make against laziness and for hard work.  I take Your Word seriously and I apply it to my life.  I know that I am not called to sit, I am called to serve and I declare, by faith, that I will serve You all the days of my life.  I serve You by putting my hands to DO all that You bless me to DO.  I work hard at home, in the office, on the road, with my children, in my marriage, and in every aspect of my life, because I know that You do not bless laziness.  I do my part and You do yours!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(12:28) Called to Righteousness

(Prov 12:28 GNB) Righteousness is the road to life; wickedness is the road to death.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon brings up something that is not mentioned much today: the reality that righteousness puts us on the road to life and wickedness keeps us on the road to death.  In our politically correct society, where no one wants to offend anyone, you don’t hear much about sin, death and hell.  But the failure of preachers to preach this truth does not nullify it.  Hell is a reality and those that refuse to accept Christ are condemned to it.  As believers, on our way to heaven, we are called to walk in the newness of life.

Paul explained it well when he said, “Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Rom 5:18,19).  The two men Paul refers to here are Adam and Jesus.  Because of Adam’s sin, death entered and passed to all men.  But because of Jesus’ righteousness, life entered and is made available to all those that accept Him as Lord (see Rom 10:9,10,13; John 3:16).  John, the disciple that Jesus loved, made it clear in his writings that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.  He said, “The Father loves the Son and has put everything into his hands.  Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life.  Anyone who says no to the Son will not have life.  God’s anger remains on him” (John 3:35,36); “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1st John 5:11-13).  John wanted to make it clear that those of who accept Jesus have eternal life.  He wanted us to “know” that we have eternal life, so that we could live in that reality.  Once we know we are Born-Again, it is not the end, but rather the beginning.  We are to shine as light and love in the world.  We are to walk in purity, righteousness and holiness.  John went on to say: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1st John 1 5:7)

I know that teaching on sin is not popular, but God did not call me to a popularity contest.  I am teaching through the book of Proverbs (verse by verse) and I refuse to skirt around any issues.  Here Solomon tells us of two roads; one leads to life and one leads to death.  Be sure to get on (and stay on) the right road.   Paul said, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature… The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like… those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:16-21).

So what does this mean to you today? Simply put, it means that you are called to walk in righteousness.  Your character and conduct must be pleasing to God.  Avoid even the appearance of evil (1st Thess 5:22), walk in the life Christ Jesus died to give you, and shine as light in the midst of darkness.

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to die so that I could live.  I have accepted Him as my Lord, I have been Born-Again, Your Spirit lives in me, and I declare, right now, by faith, that I will live like it.  I abstain from even the appearance of evil.  I walk in the newness of the life Jesus died to give me.  I will not disrespect, dishonor, or discredit the work of the Blood of Jesus in my life.  I am believer and I am not ashamed of it.  Father, use me to shine in the midst of darkness today, that You may be glorified through me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!