Proverbs Chapter 20

by Rick

You Are the Temple of God

(Prov 20:1 NLT) Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls.  Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon does not cut any corners when he states that alcohol will turn you into mocker (which does not represent God well) and it will altar your judgment so bad that you will be prone to embarrassing physical altercations (which should never happen for the child of God).  This entire book (Proverbs) is about learning, applying, and walking in the wisdom of God.  With that in mind Solomon plainly states that those who consume alcohol, only to be led astray by it – doing things they only regret later – CANNOT BE WISE!

In this series, which is taking me years to complete, we are doing a verse-by-verse study of the book of Proverbs.  As a man of God I can’t skip over scriptures because what they say is unpopular.  Now, while you will be hard pressed to find scriptures that flatly outlaw believers from drinking even a sip of alcohol, there are many scriptures that articulate the dangers, and foolishness, associated with getting drunk.  And I have had many conversations with believers who say, “But Rick, Jesus drank wine.  I can drink, I just won’t get drunk.”  These people are walking a fine line.  At the end of the day, in my mind it comes down to the fact that we must all be led of the Spirit (Gal 5:16) and refrain from those things that He convicts us NOT to do.  In my case I have a personal conviction not to drink any form of alcohol, therefore I don’t and haven’t since I gave my life to Christ in 1995.  But if a Born-Again believer can drink alcohol, and somehow NOT be negatively affected by it at all, and somehow NOT become a stumbling block to others, and NOT get convicted by the Holy Spirit, then that is between them and God.

In the Old Testament priests were held to a different standard.  In Leviticus 10 God said: “Then the LORD said to Aaron, “You and your descendants must never drink wine or any other alcoholic drink before going into the Tabernacle.  If you do, you will die.  This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation.”  Now, you may be thinking, what does this have to do with me?  Well, while only one of the 12 Old Testament tribes were considered priests, EVERY New Testament Born-Again believer is a priest before God.  Peter said, “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (1st Peter 2:9,10).  This applies to all of us.  Furthermore, the “Tabernacle” referred to in Leviticus 10 is the place where the Holy Spirit dwelled.  Only the High Priest, once a year, could go into the ‘Most Holy Place’ for direct interaction with the Holy Spirit.  But guess what?  Paul taught us that our bodies are now the New Testament equivalent of the Tabernacle; our bodies actually house the Holy Spirit Himself.  Paul said, “You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you?” and “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?  You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.  So you must honor God with your body” (1st Cor 3:16 & 1st Cor 6:19,20).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you must take your position in Christ and your role as “temple of God” seriously.  If the Holy Spirit Himself lives in your body, then shouldn’t you seriously consider everything that goes in it?  And if He is looking to work with you to make a daily impact in the lives of others, then shouldn’t you want a clear mind in order to clearly hear what He wants to say and do through you?

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  From this day forward I will take my role as temple of God very seriously.  I know Your Spirit lives in me and He wants to commune with me daily.  Therefore, I will be sober minded so I can hear, obey, and work with the Holy Spirit to bring about Godly change in the earth.  I refrain from anything that will bring dishonor and discredit to Your name; and I refrain from anything that will impair my judgment.  I want to please You and to be used of You daily.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Dealing with and Being a Leader

(Prov 20:2 MSG) Quick-tempered leaders are like mad dogs—cross them and they bite your head off.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Other translations say, “Kings” where this one says, “Leaders.”  Understanding the king’s power, especially in Solomon’s time, was extremely important because it was absolute.  If the king was in bad mood, everyone could suffer.  If the king was unhappy with you, for whatever reason, he could have you put to death.  There were no checks or balances, no restrictions of power, and no term limits.  A king, being a sovereign, was a supreme ruler of his territory – period.  This power could be used positively or negatively; with dramatic results either way.

Back in chapter 16 Solomon said, “An angry ruler can put you to death.  So be wise!  Don’t make one angry” (v.14).  While it would be nice for every leader to be a Godly leader, the fact is that we will encounter leaders who are NOT humble, loving, caring, compassionate, or peaceful.  Many leaders are irritable, short-tempered, and moody.  Dealing with moody leaders today is bad, but in Solomon’s day it was exceptionally risky because they could have you killed.  It’s dangerous to deal with someone who yields exceptional power without constraint or control.  So if you have to deal with a moody leader walk cautiously and carefully, pray BEFORE you deal with them, and also pray FOR them.  You can find peace in knowing that you have Godly protection and that their poison cannot stop God’s purpose in your life.  But if you allow Him, God can use you to bring about a positive change in your in leader and in your environment. 

But just like an irritable, short-tempered, and moody leader can bring down the atmosphere that he or she oversees, an upbeat, positive, and pleasant leader can establish an encouraging environment that will benefit all those under their sphere of influence.  Never underestimate the difference a positive leader, with a positive countenance, can make in an organization its people. In other words, never underestimate the influence YOU can have as a Godly leader.  Whether it’s at home (over your family), at work (over your subordinates), or at church (over the LORD’s flock), the countenance of the leader will set the environment for the led.  In the military we call this the “Command Climate.”  The Commander sets the climate for those under his or her command, and if the climate is negative, rest assured the command will be negative and people will be apprehensive about presenting new ideas, in fear of being ‘shot down’ (or in Solomon’s time, killed).  Once you stifle creativity, it’s just a matter of time before your organization’s productivity diminishes and progress is brought to a standstill.  However, if your climate is positive and you foster an environment where creativity is welcomed and rewarded, you will have an organization that is inventive, ingenious, and industrious.

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

1.  When dealing with your leader:  If you have to deal with a moody leader God can give you the wisdom to go in out and before them unscathed and the influence to bring out positive change in your leader and organization.  A 360-degree leader does not require the title to lead.

2.  When you are the leader:  If you are a leader, you must remember the importance of preparing yourself to lead.  Spend time in prayer BEFORE you spend time with your people.  Cast your cares and concerns on God; receive His joy, peace and wisdom, and enter each day ready to make a difference.  If you do you will lift your subordinates UP TO YOUR LEVEL.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank for giving me the insight to be able to lead up, across, and down.  I am a 360-degree leader who can lead from any place in my organization.  I make a positive impact everywhere I go.  I will spend time with YOU BEFORE I spend time others, so my time with others is more effective.  As I walk with You, You help develop me into the exceptional leader You desire for me to be.  I have a genuine care and concern for my superiors and subordinates and since my sincerity comes across in my words, disposition and countenance.  I am able to establish a positive climate every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Avoid Foolish Arguments

(Prov 20:3 NIV) It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  I had a great conversation with my children yesterday about God’s love.  Jesus explained how God’s love is supposed to be our identifying characteristic (see John 13:34-35).  Love is what sets us apart.  The Good News Bible translation of this verse reads: “Any fool can start arguments; the honorable thing is to stay out of them.”  Sure, anyone can pick a fight/argument, but when you walk in the love of God you are able to control your emotions long enough to speak from your spirit; to speak the things that God would have you to say and not what you would have said in your BC (before Christ) days.

In the last chapter Solomon said, “Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs” (19:11).  When we fail to repay evil with evil, spite with spite, or disrespect with disrespect – because we are able to control our temper/emotions – we are actually showing our level of maturity in Christ.  The more we grow in Christ the more it should show as we deal with others.  John brings this out in his first letter; he wrote: “If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar.  If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see?  The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people.  You’ve got to love both” (1st John 4:20,21).  When you walk in love, when you are able to love others (even those that seem unlovable), you display the fact that you are a man/woman of honor and you can quickly earn the respect of the person you are dealing with and others.

Paul said, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”  What kind of witness would you have if you display a fish on the back of your car, a cross around your neck, a scripture on the bottom of your email signature block, and a WWJD wristband, only to be the person to is argumentative, confrontational, and antagonistic towards everyone?  None of the previously mentioned ‘outward signs’ of being a Christian mean anything if others can’t SEE Christ IN you.

The bottom line is: you must do all that you can to avoid foolish arguing.  What starts off as a single word spoken in anger can quickly erupt into a major fight.  Once emotions are flared up people say things they will later regret and feelings get hurt.  Like the old saying, “Sin will take you where you don’t want to go, make you stay longer than you want to stay, and spend more than you can afford.”  Minor disputes have a way of growing to major proportions.  So it is better to stop the dispute while it is still insignificant – or to avoid it altogether!

So what does this mean to you today? It all comes down to walking in love.  Love refuses to let an issue fester and if at all possible, love seeks to avoid disputes before they every get started.  I will close with the words of Paul: “Go ahead and be angry.  You do well to be angry-but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.  And don’t stay angry.  Don’t go to bed angry.  Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life… Watch the way you talk.  Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.  Say only what helps, each word a gift” (Eph 4:26, 27 & 29).

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for the reminder again this morning that You expect me to walk in love.  I seek to live in peace with everyone and I refuse to allow myself to drawn into petty arguments.  I avoid arguments altogether, but if one does start I will quickly squash it.  I will not allow an argument to cause me to lose control of my emotions.  I rule over my emotions and they do not rule over me.  Even if I do get angry, I will never go to bed angry.  I will resolve all issues quickly so that they do not develop into major catastrophes in my life.  Walking in love helps me to live without undue stress and strife.  Walking in love is awesome and I thank You for enabling me to do it by Your grace and with Your Spirit!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Sowing and Reaping

(Prov 20:4 NLT) Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In the last chapter Solomon said, “Some people are too lazy to lift a hand to feed themselves” (19:24).  This is not the first time Solomon spoke out against laziness.  I have already shared an abundance of scriptures, from all throughout the Bible, that admonish us to be self-motivated, to work hard, and to represent God well in all that we do.  Today, as we deal with the topic of laziness again, I will approach it from a slightly different angle.  Today we will discuss sowing and reaping.

In Genesis chapter 8, after the flood that destroyed everything outside of Noah’s Ark, the Lord vowed to “Never again curse the ground because of man.”  Looking forward from the flood the Lord said, “As long as the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  Just like there is a cycle of summer and winter, a cycle of cold and heat, and a cycle of day and night, there is a cycle of seedtime and harvest that will not cease until the end of the earth (as we know it).  This cycle of seedtime and harvest could also be expressed as seed, time, and harvest.  I separated the word “time” from seedtime to indicate the fact that there is normally a period of time required for a seed to germinate and fully develop into a harvest.  The sad reality is that many believers sow what they believe to be good seed, but they somehow expect the harvest to come overnight.  No, there is an unspecified period of time required for the harvest to come back to us, but if we are willing to endure, for the long haul, harvest time WILL come.  So if what I sow today – in love, peace, harmony, forgiveness, mercy, tenderness, money, and etc. – will come back to me ‘some day,’ then the only way to ensure I am continually reaping a Godly harvest is to continually sow Godly seed.  This means that if expect to reap God’s goodness every day, then I need to sow God’s goodness every day.  The seeds I sow today (good or bad) will produce a harvest in my future and the harvest I receive today (good or bad) will be a result of the seeds I have sown in my past.

Now, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute Rick, how does that work?  How is it that what I do will come back to me somehow?”  Here is my quick answer: I DON’T KNOW! I am not God.  But I do know what I have experienced and what God has said; and it is all throughout scripture.  Jesus talked about this in Mark 4.  Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.”  The farmer does need to know all the science behind how the process works.  He just knows that if puts corn seed in the ground corn will come up.  And while he may not understand how the whole thing works, if you keep reading Jesus explains that the farmer does have enough sense to get his sickle ready when harvest time comes.  And the awesomeness of sowing and reaping is the fact that the harvest is always exponentially more than the seed sown.  For example, Hosea told us that if we sow wind we would reap a whirlwind (Hosea 8:7).

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that if you want a continual harvest you will have to be diligent in sowing continual seed.  Don’t allow laziness to keep you from sowing the right seed.  If you do, you will be ruining your future.  I will close with the words of Paul: “Don’t be misled… What a person plants, he will harvest.  The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds… But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.  So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good.  At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit” (Gal 6:7-9).

Closing Confession:  Father, You are the Lord of the Harvest.  As Your child I am a faithful sower.  I sow seeds of love, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faith, forgiveness, and finances and as I do, I expect a correspondent return.  I have full confidence that I will reap what sow, and that confidence gives me extra motivation in sowing the right seed.  I overcome every inkling of laziness.  I sow continually and therefore I will reap continually.  My future is bright because I have the right seed in the ground.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Bringing Out the Best in Everyone!

(Prov 20:5 GNB)  A person’s thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon paints a vivid picture for us in a form of a parable.  He explains to us that a person’s true self, their inner-man, is like water in a deep well.  As a subconscious form of protection most people put up a barrier that only a select few are allowed past.  This is the barrier to their soul, to their most inner self, to who they really are.  While God searches the heart with relative ease, that is not the case for humans.  Only those with true wisdom can search deep into the heart of another, bringing out those things they guard as precious.

This is the challenge of the pastors, counseling psychologists, and counselors in general.  Having a one-on-one interaction with someone else, with the goal of searching deep inside of them and bringing out whatever is required at the time, takes tremendous skill.  However, there is a difference between skill, gifting, and the anointing.  The Father can certainly anoint someone – gracing them with supernatural ability – to be able to get out of a person whatever needs to be brought out at the time.

18th century theologian John Gill was so eloquent when commenting on this text that I decided to simply share with you what he said:

A person’s thoughts are like water in a deep well:Pure and undisturbed, but secret, hidden, and hard to be come at: such are the things of the spirit of a man, the thoughts of his mind, the devices of his heart; which, though easily known by the searcher of hearts, are not easily penetrated into by men; or it is not easily got out of them what is in them, especially in some men, who are very close and reserved. This is true of wicked men, who seek sleep to hide their counsel; and of good men, especially studious men, who have got a great deal of wisdom and knowledge in them, but not very communicative, being slow of speech, and silent in conversation.”

But someone with insight can draw them out:  “He will find ways and means to discover the secret designs of wicked men, whether against church or state; and, by asking proper questions, an understanding man will get out useful things from men of knowledge, the most reserved: some men must be pumped, and a good deal of pains must be taken with them, to get out anything of them, as in getting water out of a deep well, and which when got is very good; and so is that wisdom and knowledge which is gotten by an inquisitive man from another of superior knowledge, but not very diffusive of it.”

So what does this mean to you today? Simply put, it means that a person with divine insight can get the best out of anyone.  Whether dealing with someone who is wicked or righteous, good intentioned or deceitfully conniving, a Godly graced person can go deep, like a miner, and bring out the golden nuggets the other person has buried in their soul.  Are you that type of person?  Can you see the good in anyone?  And if you see it, can you bring it out?  Can you get past a person’s wayward ways long enough to help them bring out the best they have?  If you have this grace, then use it, because it is much needed in the world.

Closing Confession:  Father, first of all I ask You to impart divine wisdom, insight, revelation and understanding (supernaturally) on me, so that I can see the best IN and bring the best OUT of others.  I want to be an agent of positive change in the earth.  You have put Your Kingdom in me.  I now ask You to put me wherever You want, in order to bring about the change You desire.  I look past outward failures and flaws in order to see the good every person has deep down inside of them.  With Your grace I am able to bring it out so that they and others can see it, and so that true change can take place!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

A Faithful Man

(Prov 20:6 KJV)  Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  I have taught several Bible studies and preached several messages from this verse.  My mother used to say, “Statements are taken based upon who said them.”  Her point was that you must take the person’s background and perspective into account when considering what they had to say.  When you read this verse you must consider the fact that Solomon was a sitting king.  He dealt with other heads of state and a multitude of his own leaders on a regular basis.  He knew that people were on their best behavior when they stood before a king, so he also knew that a good portion of what he heard was peppered with superfluities.  Person after person would stand before Solomon and promise to delivery thus and so, but the reality is that only a portion of those who promise actually perform as promised.  Further, many of those who promised and delivered only did so once or twice.  Finding someone who promises and performs on a routine basis – day after day, month after month, year after year – is hard.  Solomon was looking for leaders who would consistently and faithfully perform for the long haul.

Guess what?  God is looking for the same thing.  How many people stand before God claiming to be faithful?  How many people get before God’s presence and promise to do better?  And of those people, how many actually deliver on those promises?  Now, I am not talking about being faithful for a week, or a month, or even a year.  I am talking about being faithful God to for the long haul.  How many people do you know who were once fired up about God but have now lost their way?  How many do you know who were once on-fire, but are now burned out?  But let’s not just talk about God, how many people do you know who promised to be there for you, forever, but now they won’t even call?  People can claim this or that, but at the end of the day, it is simply hard to find someone who is going to be faithful and loyal for the long haul.

I am by no means a perfect man.  But one thing I have strived to be is steady and faithful.  Let’s use Today’s Word as an example.  Back in December of 1997 the Father told me to get up every morning and write a devotional.  I vowed to God that I would and that I would continue to do it until He told me to stop.  Well, here we are, over 13 years later, and I can tell you that I have gotten up every morning, five days a week (Monday through Friday), for these past 13 years and have reported for duty.  I get up, pray, get in front of the computer, and type whatever the Father tells me to type.  I have done this regardless of where I have been (Bosnia, Germany, Kuwait, Iraq, etc.), what time I needed to be at work (sometimes very early in the morning), or whether or not I was on vacation with my family.  Why?  Because I made a vow to the Lord and I have sought to be faithful to it.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should pause long enough to ask yourself this question: am I being faithful?  Am I faithful to God and to His purpose for my life?  If you cannot answer these questions in the affirmative, then it is time to make some changes.  James told us that life is a gift to those who stay the course; he taught us about staying power (see James 5:10,11).  Most of us claim to be faithful and loyal, but are you really doing it?  Are you staying the course, day after day, month after month, and year after year?  Solomon asked, “A faithful man, who can find?”  Today you should say, “Here I am Lord, look no further!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for Your grace and Your Spirit.  I declare, by faith, that I will be faithful and loyal all the days of my life.  I know there is no retirement plan for the believer.  Therefore, I will be faithful to You and to Your plan for my life, until the day that I die.  I refuse to die with my purpose still IN me.  I am committed to dying empty.  I WILL arrive at Your ultimate destination for my life; and I will get there by being faithful EVERY day and in EVERY way.  Every day will take me incrementally closer to Your ultimate destiny.  I don’t take any days off.  I am a believer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, every year of my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Generational Blessings and Cursings

(Prov 20:7 NLT) The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon teaches us about the impact we can have on our children.  Quite honestly, whether we know it or not, the decisions we make today can actually impact our grandchildren, whether we are alive or not.  This is the spiritual aspect of this verse.  But before we get too deep in the spiritual, let’s discuss the practical aspect.  The Message Bible paraphrase of this verse reads: “God-loyal people, living honest lives, make it much easier for their children.”  Okay, on a practical level, we all know that our children emulate us.  Consciously or subconsciously, our children pickup on the things we do.  So when we live lives that are godly, upright, with integrity, and striving towards righteousness, we are setting the right example for our children and our example WILL rub off on them.  If you don’t want you children to do what you are doing, then you probably should not do it, because your actions – even on a practical level – have a way of showing up in theirs.

Now let’s get to the spiritual aspect of this verse.  In Exodus chapter 20 the Lord, through Moses, when admonishing the Israelites to stay away from idol gods, said: “You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.  I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject Me” (v.5).  The Lord said something similar in Ex 34:7, Num 14:18, and Deut 5:9.  This is heavy stuff and it is real.  Unbeknownst to me my father committed many transgressions in life that I needed to be delivered from.  This was definitely a spiritual thing, because my father did not raise me and had very little practical influence on my life.  As I grew up I realized that I had a natural inclination to do some of the things I later found out he was prone to doing.  It was only after I was Born-Again that I asked my heavenly Father to fully deliver me from any negative spiritual (or otherwise) influences of the past, so that I could fully become the person He desired for me to be.  Now, I run into people all the time who say that they don’t believe in generational curses, but a failure to believe in something does not negate the fact that is real, and Biblical.

The good news is that while generational curses are real, so are generational blessings.  The Lord, trough Solomon’s father David, said, “But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear Him.  His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to His covenant, of those who obey His commandments!” (Ps 103:17,18).  The Lord said something similar in Gen 45:10, Prov 13:22, and Eze 37:25.  If the decisions we make will affect our children and their children (and they will), why not make the decisions good ones?  Just like cursings can be passed down, so can blessings.  I am confident that my children will not have to deal with what I dealt with, because I have made a conscious choice to live right before God.  The Blessing of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Jesus is flowing in my life and it SHALL flow in the lives of my descendants.  I made a course correction in my family line that will have ripple effects long after I am gone!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your decisions are VERY important.  Not only do your decisions impact your future, but they will also have an impact on the lives of your born and unborn descendants.  So live your life in such a way that you will: 1) be a practical example of righteousness for your children that is worthy of emulation and 2) leave a spiritual inheritance that will positively impact your children’s children and beyond.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  I now realize the importance of my decisions and actions.  The life that I live will still be impacting my descendants long after I am gone.  Therefore, I declare, by faith, that my life will be a life of faith, love, peace, mercy, forgiveness, and divine adventure.  I shall leave an inheritance of righteousness for my children and children’s children that will give them a Godly advantage in life. They will not have to start where I started.  They will have a head start because of the decisions I make and the path I take.  The Blessing of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Jesus is on me and it SHALL be on my descendants.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Our Righteous Judge

(Prov 20:8 NLT)  When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence, distinguishing the bad from the good.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon teaches us about the importance of righteous judgment.  Similar to our court system today – which allows for a case to be elevated to different levels – the court system in Solomon’s day was hierarchal.  If the case warranted it, it could actually be tried before the king himself (e.g., Solomon, 1 Kings 3:16-28).  While a sitting king definitely had many matters of state to deal with, he still took it upon himself to personally oversee the administration of the law.  And this was not just a practice during Biblical times.  I am not sure if the court it is still exercised, but the British constitution does reserve a court for the king (or queen), called the King’s Bench, where a sitting king (or queen) can hear a case.

Solomon tells us that when a king gets involved in a case he weighs all the evidence and he has a knack for distinguishing the bad (exaggerated, overstated, embellished) from the good.  The English Standard Version translation of this verse brings the out; it reads: “A king who sits on the throne of judgment winnows all evil with his eyes.”  A just king could detect (or winnow / sift out; cross ref. Prov 20:26) evil motives and actions.  The point here is that a king’s involvement brought fear to the guilty, because kings did not arrive at the throne by mistake and they were not easily fooled.  This reminds me of the selection of David.  When the Lord sent Samuel to Jesse’s house to anoint one of his son’s as the next king of Israel Jesse lined up seven of his eight boys before the prophet.  David, Jesse’s youngest, was still out tending to sheep.  The prophet Samuel did not know that one of the boys was missing and while he was a prophet, he did not hear from God about the selection.  Samuel’s natural man took over and the prophet attempted to make the selection with his head and not his spirit.  Samuel saw Jesse’s eldest boy and since he was the oldest, handsome, and strong, he thought, “Surely this is the one.”  However, the Lord Himself stepped in and said to Samuel, “Pay no attention to how tall and handsome he is.  I have rejected him, because I do not judge as people judge.  They look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart” (1st Sam 16:7).  The Lord has a way of looking past our outward façade and seeing deep down into our heart; into whom we really are.

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

1.  You serve a King – actually, the Kings of Kings – who is a righteous judge that personally gets involved in the cases of your life.

2.  Your heavenly Father has a way of winnowing (sifting through) your outward façade and seeing the truth, whether you want to present it or not.

3.  You may be able to fool others, but you will NEVER be able to fool God.

4.  Bow before God (your King) today, ask Him for forgiveness and grace, and enter this day with the confidence of knowing that He is on you, in you, with you, and for you.  God is not only there to judge you, but He will also judge every person that comes against you.  He is on your side, so get excited about today!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for being my righteous judge.  You sift through my external façade, the person I portray to others, and You know who I really am.  I thank You for judging me, but for also applying the Blood of Jesus, Your Son, to my life.  Because of Jesus You forgive me, cleanse me, and grace me daily.  As I enter this day I do so with the confidence that You are on me, in me, with me, and for me.  You are on my side, who can be against me?  You correct me when I am wrong and protect me when I am right.  Your involvement in my life is comforting and it gives me confidence.  I am excited about today!  Let’s go make a difference together!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

A Sinner in Need of a Savior!

(Prov 20:9 NIV) Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon poses a rhetorical question.  Sure, people have said it, but no one (outside of Jesus) could ever make this statement and it be true.  Every one of us was born a sinner in need of a savior.  Paul preaches this powerful message (the Gospel) in all his letters.  In his letter to the church at Rome Paul made it clear that every human, unequivocally, has sinned and come short of the glory of God.  Why?  Because we were all born with a sin nature, a sin conscious, and a sin-induced death sentence.  In addition to the fact that Adam’s sin left us an inheritance of iniquity (causing us to be born into sin), Adam’s sin also transferred to us a sin nature.  This means that we were all born with the tendency to do wrong.  The late Dr. Fuchsia Pickett, in her old age, said, “I have lived all these years and I have never heard a baby say “yes” first.”  Why is that?  Because of the inheritance of Adam.  All of us are born sinners.  In Ecclesiastes Solomon made this message very clear by saying, “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins” (7:20).  Both Solomon and Paul taught this message, however, Paul had a message Solomon never heard and that is the message of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ.  That is why Paul could go on to explain that God, by His grace, made a way for every human to receive salvation from sin and that is: through the saving power of God’s Son, Jesus the Christ (see Romans 3:23,24).  Solomon was writing as he looked forward: in hopes of a coming Messiah.  Paul was writing as he looked back: at a Messiah who had already come into the earth, had lived a sinless life, suffered all manner of suffering, experienced a crucifixion on Calvary’s cross for a debt He did not owe, and conquered satan, hell and the grave by being raised from the dead with all power in His hand!  That is the message we preach.  Solomon’s message was incomplete.  Paul’s message tells us the rest of the story.

John, like Paul, also preached the saving power of Jesus Christ.  John’s New Testament letters are chock-full of the gospel message.  In his first letter John said, “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 stop there we feel like there is an un-crossable gulf between a holy God and fallen man.  However, John goes on to say, “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.”  That tells us that we can have fellowship with God (in whom there is no darkness at all), just as long as we walk in the light and receive the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood.  But without understanding the whole of counsel of God’s Word it sounds like we would have to be sinless to walk with God.  So I am thankful that John goes on to say, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives” (see 1st John 1:5-10).  So yes we, as believers, still sin, but we quickly confess our sin, repent, and move forward by faith.  It’s not that we are sinless, but since we are committed to walking with God we definitely sin less!

So what does this mean to you today? Simply put, it means that you were born a sinner in need of a Savior.  The Father provided that Savior in His Son; Jesus is His name.  Once you accept Jesus as Your Lord you are to walk in the light, as He is in the light, so you can shine as divine light in a dark, dying, and decaying world.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for sending Jesus, Your Son, to die in my stead.  Because of Adam I was born in sin and with a sin nature.  Sin was common to me and I was in dire need of a Savior.  I heard the gospel message that Your Son paid the price I could not pay for a debt He did not owe.  Without Him and You I am nothing.  I could not even breathe my next breath without You.  I am forever grateful for Jesus and what He did to pay the penalty for my sin.  I declare, by faith, that I will walk in the light, as You are in the light, and together we will shine in the midst of darkness and impact all those we come in contact with today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Walking In Integrity

(Prov 20:10 NLT)  False weights and unequal measures—the LORD detests double standards of every kind.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon goes back to another reoccurring theme in his teachings: integrity in business.  In Solomon’s day the two main sources of income were flocks and fields.  Most men were either farmers (working the fields) or herdsmen (working with animals); some did both.  Scales and measures were used (and are still used today) in the marketplace.  So in this type of business the scale/measure is a key tool, determining how much customers pay.  It was a common practice for unscrupulous vendors to altar their scales or measuring tapes so that the customer would pay more for an item than they should, giving the vendor an unfair advantage and ill-gotten profit.  In Deuteronomy the Lord told the Israelites to avoid this practice, saying: “Don’t try to cheat people by having two sets of weights or measures, one to get more when you are buying, and the other to give less when you are selling” (25:13,14).  In Leviticus the Lord says it again, but adds something at the end: “Don’t cheat when measuring length, weight, or quantity.  Use honest scales and weights and measures.  I am GOD, your God. I brought you out of Egypt” (19:35,36).  What the Lord added at the end was a reminder of who He is and where He brought them OUT of.  The Lord’s point was that unscrupulous practices may have been accepted in Egypt, by a people who did not acknowledge Jehovah as Lord, but the Israelites were supposed to be different.  The Lord had brought them OUT of Egypt, but He knew that some of His people were still doing what they had observed in their old land.  In other words, it is one thing to bring someone out of Egypt, but it is something else to get Egypt OUT of them.  The Father was saying, “I have moved you physically, but now you must move mentally and spiritually.  When I look at you I don’t want to see your old ways.”

You may not have been delivered from Egypt, but you still had and old life that you need deliverance from.  See, when we come to God we do so with a set of ideas, beliefs, values, convictions, and etc.; along with many years of formal and informal education.  I would like to say that you we come to God with a clean slate, but that is simply not true.  Our slate, by the time we come to Jesus, has been filled with knowledge, experiences, and decisions.  When we accept Jesus as Lord we are Born Again.  At that moment our spirit is regenerated by God’s Spirit and it is a wonderful and everlasting experience.  The problem is that we, like God, are tripartite beings.  God is Father, Son, and Spirit, we are spirit, soul, and body.  Once we are Born Again our spirit is “saved,” but not our soul or our body.  I like to say that our spirit was saved instantly, our soul must be saved progressively and our body will be saved eventually.

So if our spirit has already been saved and our body will eventually be saved, then what should be our focus today?  You got it!  The salvation of our soul.  Our soul is comprised of our mind (the way we think), emotions (the way we feel), and will (the way we choose).  When we come to God our soul is already conditioned to think, feel, and choose a certain way.  Most of us came to God with a soul that was not conditioned to think, feel, or choose in ways that are pleasing to Him.  Dr. Finace Bush says, “This new man in an old body needs a new mind!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that cheating in business, fudging ‘the numbers’ on transactions, or omitting income on your taxes may have been acceptable before, but it cannot be acceptable now.  You are a child of the Most High God.  Walk upright before God and man and you will have a clear conscious and clean hands.

Closing Confession:  Father, I know You care about every area and aspect of my life.  You brought me out of the world and now You want to get the world out of me.  I declare, by faith, that my mind is being and shall continue to be renewed by the Word of God.  I put Your Word in me so much that it becomes the overwhelming influence of my life.  You are a God of integrity and I am Your child; therefore I am a person of integrity.  I walk upright before You all the days of my life.  I don’t do anything, in business or otherwise, that will devalue, discount, or discredit Your name.  I bring honor to You and Your name in all that I do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Developing Your Children

(Prov 20:11 GNB) Even children show what they are by what they do; you can tell if they are honest and good.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  People say one thing and do another all the time.  That’s why in the New Testament Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.”  Jesus knew that many would come after Him who would say godly things with their lips, but would only do so with the intentions of leading people astray.  These people may have had God on their lips, but He was certainly not in their heart.  Anyone can claim to be righteous, holy, godly, and etc.; but we have already learned in this series that ‘claiming to be’ and ‘actually being’ are not always the same.  So what is the answer?  How can we truly judge a person’s character?  Jesus goes on to say, “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.”  Jesus is teaching us to give more credence to a person’s actions than their words.  Why?  Because you can temporarily hide behind deceitful and deceptive words, but eventually who you really are will come our in your actions.  You might be able to ‘fake it’ for a while, but what’s in you abundantly will come out of you eventually.   Jesus kept going and asked, “Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”  The obvious answer is no.  So if a person claims to be an apple tree, wears apple tree paraphernalia, puts an apple tree quote on the bottom of their email signature block, and hangs an apple tree logo from the rear view mirror of their car, but spends all day producing oranges, then the reality is that this person is an orange tree.  You can claim apples all you want, but if all you produce is oranges, then ‘orange tree’ is who you are.  Jesus closed out the conversation by saying, “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit” (verses 15-18).  That’s about as plain as it can be.

With that understanding we can get to Solomon’s scripture for us this morning.  While what I just shared with you is not new revelation, most people don’t apply it to children.  Solomon tells us, however, that we should.  Even children, Solomon says, are known by what they do (their fruit).  This can apply to the development of their character and to the identification of the gifts the Father has placed down inside of them.  Let’s talk gifts first.  The future engineer is seen in the little handicraftsman of two years old.  The little doctor is seen in the three year old walking around with a stethoscope around their neck.  The future major league baseball player is often recognized before preschool.  So in that sense it is incumbent upon us, as parents, to carefully observe our children and to develop the God-given desires they possess.  Now let’s talk character.  From a character development perspective we, as parents, have a Godly responsibility to feed the positive character traits we see in our children and to correct the negative ones.  If our children are producing oranges today, and we want them to be apple trees, then it is our responsibility to cultivate the desire and development of apples in their lives.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we, as parents, must do what Solomon instructs us to do later in Proverbs: “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (22:6).

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for giving me the grace and perception, as a parent, to identify those things in my children that I should feed and nurture, and also those things that I should condemn and correct.  I want my children to maximize their purpose and potential in life and I am committed to doing all I can to ensure that happens.  I will do my part and I am convinced that You are committed to doing Yours.  Together we will direct my children on the right path and when they are older, I am believing You that they will not leave it.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Slowing Down long enough to PRAISE GOD!

(Prov 20:12 NLT)  Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the LORD.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  This morning Solomon takes us back to the basics.  It seems like we are all busy in today’s society.  Kids’ schedules are often as busy as their parents’, between school, sports, and other extra curricular activities.  Parents have to juggle the kids’ schedule, work related responsibilities, and managing their home; not to mention the fact that they must also take care of themselves (physically, psychologically, and spiritually) and somehow make time to keep the flame in their marriage burning.  We have work email, personal email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and all sorts of other online activities that we interact with on our multiple multimedia devices.  While technology was supposed to make life easier, one can definitely make the case that it has made life more hectic.  But we embrace our busy schedules, all the while attempting to make room and time for God.

Even as you read this email (on your computer or phone), most of you are doing so with ‘just a few minutes to spare.’  You are reading this quickly so that you can get on to your next task.  Some of you have “Today’s Word” on your daily checklist, so you are trying to hurry up so you can check it off.  But the message this Friday morning is to SLOW DOWN and think about the goodness of God.  Allow God to take you back to a time when your life was a lot simpler.  Solomon reminds us of the true blessings we take for granted.  We have ears to hear and eyes to see, both are gifts from the Lord.  It is a liberating experience, at least for me, to spend a few minutes thanking God for who He is, what He has done, and How He has richly blessed me – and not with an emphasis on “things,” but rather with an emphasis on LIFE.  If you are reading this email, then you are still in the land of the living.  There were many people who did not get up this morning, but you did.  There are many today who cannot read this email, because they cannot see, but you can.  Let’s get back to the basics and simply THANK GOD in all things and at all times.

James said, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (1:17).  While that is definitely true, it is something that we often overlook and certainly something that we fail to thank God for.  But let’s thank Him today.

Solomon’s father David said, “I will always thank the LORD; I will never stop praising him.  I will praise him for what he has done; may all who are oppressed listen and be glad!”  What an attitude!  David was committed to praising God and so should we be.  And David was not content with just praising God by himself.  In an attempt to take it from a solo to a symphony David said, “Proclaim with me the LORD’s greatness; let us praise his name together!” (Psalm 34:1-3).  Will you accept David’s invitation?

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should take a few minutes to ‘un-plug’ from your busy schedule and your multiple electronic devices long enough to PRAISE GOD for the basics – you are alive, you have the activity of your limbs, you have breath in your lungs, blood is flowing in your veins, and the Father still wants to use you for His glory.  Isn’t that awesome?

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for blessing me to get up this morning.  I know many people died last night, but I was not one of them.  It is only because of Your goodness that I can breathe my next breath.  I can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell; and for that I say THANK YOU.  I will enjoy this day because I am going to slow down long enough to notice things I don’t normally notice.  This is going to be awesome.  I have been busy, but today I refuse to be too busy to give You PRAISE.  Like David, I will always thank You and I will never stop praising You.  My attitude of gratitude will unlock peace, hope, and confident expectation in my heart and my infectious hopefulness will rub off on all those I come in contact with today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Your Part in His Provision

(Prov 20:13 NLT)  If you love sleep, you will end in poverty.  Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat!

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon was a fan of hard/diligent work and a clearly not a fan of laziness.  Solomon taught that laziness leads to poverty and diligence leads to wealth.  He refers to laziness as “sleep” and diligence as “keeping your eyes open.”  This is not the first time he has brought this up.  Back in chapter six Solomon said, “But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?  When will you wake up?  A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber” (9-11).  In the last chapter he wrote, “Anyone who doesn’t want to work sleeps his life away.  And a person who refuses to work goes hungry” (19:15).  Those are references to laziness, which leads to poverty.  On the side of the equation, in chapter 10 Solomon said, “He becomes poor who works with a lazy hand, but the hand of the diligent brings wealth” (v.4).  In the 12th chapter he said, “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense” (v.11) and “If you are lazy, you will never get what you are after, but if you work hard, you will get a fortune” (v.27).

Solomon teaches that if you are too lazy to work you will find yourself with scarcity, lack, and poverty, and it will NOT be God’s fault.  In the New Testament, in Paul’s second letter to the church at Thessalonica, he said, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2nd Thes 3:10).  Paul had received word that some of the members of the church in Thessalonica were more focused on being busybodies, than being busy.  He went on to say, “Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business.  We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living” (verses 11,12).

It’s easy for someone to say, “God is my source,” and He should be, but that is no excuse for laziness.  God will not overlook laziness and bless you with abundance.  The Father will reward what put your hands to DO, but that’s the point, you must put your hands to DO it.  If you don’t DO anything, then you are not giving Him anything to work with.  The lazy reap what they sow – NOTHING!

Our heavenly Father does not want His children to suffer in poverty, but He is not going to send down checks from heaven.  What the Father does is teach us what to do in order to prosper in the earth.  For example, our God is against laziness, idleness, dishonesty, deceit, stealing, addictions, haphazardness, lack of focus, and etc.  People who practice these things are susceptible to poverty.  On the other hand, God is for hard work, honesty, integrity, diligence, dedication, giving, a sense of purpose and focus, vision, clarity, freedom from addictions, love, peace, a sound mind, a strong body, and etc.  People who live this way – who faithfully honor the Father in every area of their lives – open themselves up to God’s best and before they know it, they are living strong, stable, and secure lives.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a part in God’s provision for your life.  Don’t blame God for everything.  Take an honest look at your financial situation and at the overall condition of your life.  You know God was not solely responsible for it.  Whether good or bad, up or down, rich or poor, you had something to do with it.  Does God have a part?  Absolutely!  But God is going to either bless or reject what you DO!  So determine today to do all the things that promote a good and Godly life.  If you do your part, God will do His!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for teaching me in Your Word and by Your Spirit to walk in Your best.  I declare, by faith, that I am not lazy, I have a strong work ethic, I am diligent, dedicated, honest, and purpose-driven.  I walk in integrity, love, joy, and peace.  I am free from all fear, bitterness, strife, and the power of addictions.  I honor You with my finances and You bless me to continue to BE a blessing to others.  I do my part and You do Yours.  I walk in the Blessing of Abraham, which is natural, and the Blessing of Jesus, which is Spiritual! In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Refusing to Take Advantage of Others

(Prov 20:14 NLT)  The buyer haggles over the price, saying, “It’s worthless,” then brags about getting a bargain!

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon gives us an interesting proverb this morning.  When I first read it I did not know what to make of it.  I had to read this verse in several translations and also read what commentators had to say before I was able to understand what Solomon is teaching here.  I can now see that this verse flows in the same vein with those that Solomon has taught us about integrity, honesty, hard work, and respect.  Solomon was a major businessman, running a nation with a multi-billion dollar surplus.  Solomon knew that his nation was blessed because the hand of Jehovah was on it.  He also knew that integrity, especially in business matters, was a key facet of keeping the hand of God on Israel.  If you read Chronicles you will see Israel go through a proverbial roller coaster ride.  The nation went up and down, based upon the quality and character of their leaders.  When Israel had leadership who honored God the nation was blessed, when they did not, they were not.  It’s that simple.  God is not going to bless mess.  He expects us to walk in His Word, will, and way.

This leads us to Solomon’s lesson for us this morning.  Solomon teaches us that when we buy something we should pay a fair price.  In Solomon’s day people would haggle over an item, very much like we to today.  Haggling, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing.  However, Solomon explains that some shoppers clearly recognized the value of an item, but unscrupulously belittled/disparaged the item, just so the seller could bring the price down.  And as soon as the seller would, the unscrupulous shopper would buy the item, knowing good and well that they purchased it below the fair market value, only to later brag about the deal.  The Message Bible paraphrase of this verse makes it clear; it reads: “The shopper says, “That’s junk—I’ll take it off your hands,” then goes off boasting of the bargain.”

Quite honestly, when I read this verse I was convicted.  I used to do just what Solomon describes, especially while perusing the Flea Markets of NYC.  I surely boasted whenever I received a deal that was better than market value.  I even said things like, “I ripped that guy off.”  And that’s really Solomon’s message.  Now that I am a believer, and I love God and His people, I can’t go around looking to ‘rip people off.’  At the end of the day, the merchant is trying to make a living just like everyone else.  As a child of God we should go around being a blessing, not a curse.  Now, I am not saying that we should pay ABOVE market value, but we should simply pay a fair price.  When we pay a fair price everyone wins.  We get what we wanted and the merchant is able to make the desired profit, in order to stay in business and to make his or her own living.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God expects you, as a believer, to walk in integrity in every area of your life.  Yes, God cares about little things like the price you paid for something.  Don’t think that you can go around taking advantage of people and still retain His blessing.  And is it really worth it?  Is saving a few dollars on a purchase worth losing the blessing and favor of God over? Absolutely not!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for blessing me to be a blessing to every person I come in contact with.  I walk in integrity in every area and facet of my life.  I honor You with my finances and You cause me to walk in Your best financially and otherwise.  I have more than enough to meet the needs of every situation.  Therefore, I have no need, nor desire, to take advantage of others.  I seek to maximize my income by not overpaying for items, but I also refuse to willfully and dishonestly deceive others in order to underpay.  I do what is right, because it’s right, and I seek to do it right – every time.  This way I will continue to honor You and You will continue to bless me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

The Value of Divine Wisdom

(Prov 20:15 NLT)  Wise words are more valuable than much gold and many rubies.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  While we, as believers, can endure all sorts of fluctuations in the economy and still come out on top, naturally speaking, we are living in uncertain times.  Millions of Americans are concerned about the future.  They see constantly shifting gas prices, an unstable economy, a nation closing out one war and still involved in another, and an economy that has not made the expected turnaround many have been waiting/hoping for.  Many that are seeking peace of mind find it in their savings accounts.  Their money is their security blanket.  But what happens when the money is not there?  What happens if the money runs out?  What happens if the money is no longer the be-all end-all that many mistakenly thought it was?  Is money bad?  Of course not, but money is not everything.  Here Solomon tells us that God’s wisdom is much more valuable than gold or precious stones.  Back in the third chapter Solomon said, “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold” (verses 13,14).  Yes, the wisdom of God can bless (profit) us in ways that far exceed the limitations of money.  As a matter of fact, the wisdom of God can help us accumulate wealth, but the opposite is not true.  All the money in the world cannot buy divine insight.

Job was a man who had both divine wisdom and wealth.  He lost the wealth (which he eventually got back), but he never lost the wisdom.  This is what Job had to say about the two: “But where, oh where, will they find Wisdom?  Where does Insight hide?  Mortals don’t have a clue, haven’t the slightest idea where to look.  Earth’s depths say, ‘It’s not here’; ocean deeps echo, ‘Never heard of it.’ This was Job’s way of explaining how humans often pursue spiritual things through natural means.  Job explains how you can search the planet from pole to pole, but you will never be able to [physically] find God’s wisdom.  Nor can your purchase it.  Job continues: “It can’t be bought with the finest gold; no amount of silver can get it.  Even famous Ophir gold can’t buy it, not even diamonds and sapphires.  Neither gold nor emeralds are comparable; extravagant jewelry can’t touch it.  Pearl necklaces and ruby bracelets—why bother?  None of this is even a down payment on Wisdom!  Pile gold and African diamonds as high as you will, they can’t hold a candle to Wisdom.”  Job’s message is painstakingly clear; divine wisdom cannot be found with natural eyes, nor can it be purchased with natural wealth.  Job goes on to ask: “So where does Wisdom come from?  And where does Insight live?…  God alone knows the way to Wisdom, he knows the exact place to find it” (see Job 18:12-23).  That’s the key.  You must come to God, the author of divine wisdom Himself, and ask for it (James 1:5).  If you do, with an earnest heart, He will give you insight, wisdom, revelation, knowledge, and understanding that far exceeds anything money can buy.  The Good News Bible translation of this verse reads: “If you know what you are talking about, you have something more valuable than gold or jewels.”  Isn’t that what you want?

So what does this mean to you today? Well, let me ask you this way: Do you understand the impact divine wisdom can have upon your life?  What if I told you that what you are doing right now is one of the most profitable practices of your daily routine?  If His wisdom is more profitable than silver and yields better returns that gold, then shouldn’t you want it operating in your life?  That’s why you must make time to take time with God EVERY DAY.  If you do, not only will you learn from His Word, receive His insight, and be prepared for the challenges of the day, but you will become the person who knows what he or she is talking about and that – as Solomon says – is more valuable than gold or jewels!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  I now better understand the value of Your wisdom, the importance of gaining divine understanding, the impact it can have in my life, and the doors it can open for me as I become a person who is constantly sought after for counsel.  I declare, by faith, that I will spend the time with You DAILY that I need to in order to develop in Your wisdom and understanding.  The more I do, the greater impact I can make in the world and in the lives of others.  I am seeking to impact, not to impress, and Your wisdom will enable me to do just that!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Being Wise in Business

(Prov 20:16 NLT)  Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt.  Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  I have already told you that Solomon was an astute businessman.  Here he gives us great business advice that complements what he has already taught us in Proverbs.  In chapter six he said, “My child, have you promised to be responsible for someone else’s debts?  Have you been caught by your own words, trapped by your own promises?  Well then, my child, you are in that person’s power, but this is how to get out of it: hurry to him, and beg him to release you” (1-3).  To better understand what Solomon meant by that passage we need to understand the credit system in his era.  In Solomon’s time the Phoenicians seemed to have discovered the value of credit.  The previous credit system was relatively fair.  However, the Phoenicians started lending at unusually interest rates.  This caused several people to be locked into bad deals and others could not qualify for credit at all.  This forced them to look for a surety (someone who could guarantee the loan).  In today’s terms a surety would be a co-signer.  Solomon tells us that if we allow our words to trap us into something (like co-signing a loan) that we did not completely think through, then the best thing to do is to swallow our pride, admit our mistake, and attempt to get out of the deal.  It’s not that Solomon was against generosity, but he was surely against foolish decisions.

Some even went to the extent of co-signing a loan for a complete stranger.  This is hardly ever a good idea and for the believer it is even worse because we are commanded by God to meet the obligations we commit ourselves to.  In other words, for the believer failing to pay is NOT an option.  A person of poor character may enter into a loan without the intentions of paying it back, but we must never do so.  Our word must be our bond.  But don’t be naïve enough to believe that everyone will live up to that high standard.  Solomon was not naïve and he was no fool (not by a long shot).  Solomon fully understood that if someone with good credit guaranteed the loan of a total stranger with bad credit, that the deal had a high probability of going bad; and the person with good credit might realize his or her mistake and attempt to back out of the deal.  This is why Solomon tells us to get collateral, even if the co-signer has good credit, because no one with good sense should co-sign on a loan for a complete stranger.  This way, even if the person with bad credit defaults and the person with good credit attempts to back out of his or her responsibility, at least you have the collateral and you will be able to recover your investment.

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

1.  The Father expects us to be wise in business.  Being a Christian, and loving people, does not mean that we should be gullible and stupid.

2.  There is a difference between being generous and making a poor decision.

3.  Don’t allow your emotions to take you where your bank account can’t keep you.  This is great advice in today’s credit-laden society.

4.  Count the cost.  Think things through, prayer over them, and make sound decisions.

5.  If you make a mistake, don’t allow pride to keep you in it.  Get out as soon as you can.

6.  God is not obligated to bless your mess, so be careful what obligations you take on.  Where He leads, He feeds.  Where He guides, He provides.  If it’s His will, then it’s His bill!  But if you take on obligations without seeking God, and knowingly ignoring His counsel, then you are going to have to reap the harvest of the bad seeds sown.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for walking with me daily.  You lead me in the way that I should go.  I declare, by faith, that everything decision I make is a decision that is birthed out of my prayer life.  I make decisions that line up with Your Word, will, and way.  I am a blessing to others and I give to those in need.  However, I am led in my giving.  I don’t overextend myself and endanger my family by making poor decisions.  You lead me in the area of my finances and in every area of my life.  I pray, I think things through, I count the cost, and I make sound decisions – BY FAITH!  This way I am able to experience divine success in business and in everything I put my hands to do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

The Deceitfulness of Sin

(Prov 20:17 NLT)  Stolen bread tastes sweet, but it turns to gravel in the mouth.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Back in chapter 9 Solomon said, “Stolen water tastes best,” making a reference to the illicit desire most have for the forbidden.  I believe this all started with Adam.  Ever since Adam indulged himself with the forbidden fruit men have been born with a fallen nature.  I call this the “Adamic nature.”  Whenever you tell someone that they CAN’T have something, the Adamic nature feeds a hunger and desire for the forbidden.  That’s why you must understand what happened when you gave your life to Christ.  When you were Born-Again you received a new nature, spiritually speaking, but then you must submit yourself to the process of mind renewal.  While your spiritual birth was instantaneous, the renewing of the mind is definitely a process.  You must learn to love what God loves and hate what He hates so that you can grow in godliness.  While the Adamic nature may have made stolen bread attractive and sweet in your BC (Before Christ) days, your new nature and new mind will keep you from it; and if you truly renew your mind, you won’t even have a desire for the ungodly.  But for those that do – who are either carnal Christians who still love what they should not love or straight-up sinners who have a sin nature – whatever enjoyment they receive from the sin will be short lived.  Solomon tells us that stolen bread might start off tasting sweet, but it eventually turns into gravel in the mouth.  In other words, the person committing sin might enjoy it for a little while, but when it is all said and done the pleasures of sin have a way of turning rotten; leaving the person unsatisfied and feeling unpleasant.

In the book of Job, Zophar drives home this message loud and clear, saying: “Since the time of creation, everyone has known that sinful people are happy for only a while.  Though their pride and power may reach to the sky, they will disappear like dust, and those who knew them will wonder what happened.  They will be forgotten like a dream and vanish from the sight of family and friends… Sinners love the taste of sin; they relish every bite and swallow it slowly.  But their food will turn sour and poison their stomachs.  Then God will make them lose the wealth they gobbled down… Their hard work will result in nothing gained, because they cheated the poor… Greedy people want everything and are never satisfied.  But when nothing remains for them to grab, they will be nothing.  Once they have everything, distress and despair will strike them down, and God will make them swallow his blazing anger… The heavens and the earth will testify against them” (see Job 20).  Wow.  Zophar said a mouthful as he painted a vivid picture of the deceitfulness of sin.  Sin might seem promising, but the end result is disastrous.

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

1.  The more you get into the Word the more you will develop a hunger and thirst for the things of God.

2.  As your mind is renewed you will simply desire sin and less and less.

3.  Sin might seem enjoyable, but the pleasures of sin are deceitful.  What starts off tasting good eventually turns sour and poisonous.

4.  Don’t succumb to the temptations to sin. Sin will take you where you don’t want to go, make you stay longer than you want to stay, and spend more than you can afford.

Closing Confession:  Father, I know that sin is sometimes alluring and that temptations can be real.  However, I declare, by faith, that I get so much Word in me that I experience mind renewal in every area of my life.  Once my mind is renewed in a certain area, then I simply don’t struggle with temptations in that area any longer.  My goal is to renew my mind completely to think as You think, to desire what You desire for me to have, and to live as You would have me to live.  This way I will shine as light in a dark world and I will not have to deal with the deceitful consequences of sin.  Sin may look sweet, but I know it quickly turns into an unrighteous and unpleasant harvest.  I walk, fully, in the newness of the life Christ Jesus died to provide for me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Deliberating Before Major Decisions

(Prov 20:18 NLT) Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon gives us something very interesting to think about today.  We live in a nation that has been at war for over eight years now and much debate has been conducted over whether or not we should have gone to war in the first place.  There are some who support the decision to go to war against Afghanistan, but not Iraq.  There are others who support both.  And then there are those who support neither.  I will reserve my personal opinion, but we will all learn from Solomon as he, as a sitting head-of-state, drives home the importance of receiving good counsel and giving major decisions the consideration they deserve.

18th century theologian Adam Clarke said the following when commenting on the fact that heads-of-state should seek wise counsel before going to war: “Perhaps there is not a precept in this whole book so little regarded as this.  Most of the wars that are undertaken are wars of injustice, ambition, aggrandizement, and caprice, which can have had no previous good counsel.”  Clarke said that over 200 years ago and I would venture to say that not much has changed in that regard.  Major decisions, especially like those on the level of going to war, should not be made without much deliberation.

In the New Testament (Luke 14), when teaching on ‘counting the cost,’ Jesus asked: “Who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?”  While this seems logical enough, the reality is that many fail to count the cost (or run the numbers), so they wind up wasting time, looking foolish, and mismanaging their people and resources.  Now, mismanaging a construction project is one thing, but the decision to go to war is on another level altogether.  Jesus went on to ask: “What king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him?”  This has direct application to our text.  Lives, livelihoods, cultures and legacies are at stake.  Wars affect much more than the financial status of the nations involved.  Wars leave an indelible mark on the fabric of the nations for generations.  The decision to go to war is definitely not one that should be taken lightly.  Back in the 11th chapter Solomon said, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers” (v.14).  Solomon was a national leader, but he understood that even national leaders need many advisors.  No leader can accomplish everything by themselves.  Great leaders surround themselves with other gifted leaders and they utilize their resources for the collective good.  John Maxwell says, “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”  He calls this, “The Law of Significance.”  Think of anything truly significant that has happened in history and you will find that one person did NOT accomplish it.  Maxwell also said, “We tend to think of great thinkers and innovators as soloists, but the truth is that the greatest innovative thinking doesn’t occur in a vacuum.”  Ken Blanchard said, “None of us is as smart as all of us!”  Yes, there is a certain level of safety in knowing that your plan(s) has been vetted by other great minds.

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that you should give decisions the level of deliberation they require and if the decisions are major ones the deliberation process should include other great minds.  This will keep you from reaping unpleasant harvests.

Closing Confession:  Father, I know that I will reap whatever I sow and that my life is a grand-sum-total of my decisions, therefore, I declare, by faith, that I will give my decisions an amount of deliberation that is commensurate with their importance.  For those decisions that are major, I will involve other great and Godly minds and carefully consider their input.  I refuse to make major decisions in a vacuum.  My willingness to hear from You and from others will help me make decisions that will bring glory to Your name and peace and prosperity to all those that will be affected by them.  Thank You for leading me Father.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Love Never Gossips

(Prov 20:19 NIV)  A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  While what Solomon tells us this morning seems like common sense, you would be amazed to see how many people are willing to confide in gossips.  We have all met people who ‘can’t hold their water.’  In other words, these people chomp at the proverbial bit to share whatever information has been shared with them, especially if it was shared under the condition of confidence.  In Spanish we call these type people “Radio Bembe.”  The word “Bembe” is a slang reference to a person’s lips.  The “Radio” reference is to give the idea that whatever you tell this person will be transmitted over his or her own personal broadcast system.  The English equivalent would be the nickname “WLIP;” referring to the person radio call sign format.  So if you tell this person anything of significance it will be broadcasted over WLIP.

I could go on for the rest of the lesson describing people who do this, but I believe you get the point already.  So I would rather spend the rest of the lesson telling you what God expects you to do with confidential information.  In the New Testament, when describing the love of God, Paul said, “Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]” (1st Cor 13:7 AMP).  The Greek word translated “bears up” in this text means to protect, preserve, cover, keep secret, hide, conceal.  When you operate in God’s love you are disposed to do good (and not harm) unto others.  Back in chapter 10 Solomon said “Hatred stirs up trouble; love overlooks the wrongs that others do” (v.12).  Love never seeks to stir up trouble, if anything love is willing to overlook the trouble stirred up by others, in order to maintain peace and harmony.  So love would never willingly expose information that was shared in confidence, hurting the other person and making the other person vulnerable.  No, love seeks to cover and conceal the flaws of another, in order to protect them – always seeking to help and never to hurt.  Peter said, “Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]” (1st Peter 4:8 AMP).  Think about that for a moment.  The love of God in you can literally help cover the flaws of another.  This is the way we should live.

Furthermore, to “bear up” means to literally be able and willing to carry the burdens of another. People should be able to come to us and share their heart (and faults) with us, without the concern that we will broadcast their faults to the world. Love does not transmit or give undue publicity to the flaws, faults, and failures of others.  People should know that we have the ability to cover and to carry their issues without ever having to reveal them.

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

1.  Don’t be the gossip Solomon warns us to stay away from.

2.  Offer a loving ear to others.  We all make mistakes and we all need someone to confide in and share our heart and issues with.  Be that person for someone else.

3.  You must develop a sense of care and concern for people, to the point where you will not share openly what they have shared with you privately.

4.  God’s love IN YOU enables you to cover, conceal, and carry the mistakes and burdens of others.

Closing Confession:  Father, I am disposed to do good, and not evil, unto others.  I am also disposed to hide and conceal the faults and imperfections of others.  What I receive in private will remain private.  I refuse to transmit or make public the wounds of my brothers and sisters.  I seek to minister to them and help them, not to hurt them by smearing their name with my lips.  As I bear up my brothers and sisters I find myself strengthened by Your Spirit to be a continual blessing in the earth!  They can count on me and so can You!  Use me Father to be a blessing to every person I come in contact with today.  Use me as a conduit of Your love and light in a dark and selfish world.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Honoring Your Parents

(Prov 20:20 CEV)  Children who curse their parents will go to the land of darkness long before their time.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon has already taught us about God’s desire for us to live long lives and how sin can lead to premature death.  Back in chapter 3 the Lord, through Solomon, said, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.”  That is about as plain as it can be.  Solomon continued: “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold… Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.”  In chapter 9 he said, “Respect and obey the LORD!  This is the beginning of wisdom.  To have understanding, you must know the Holy God.  I am Wisdom.  If you follow me, you will live a long time.”  In chapter 10 he said, “If you respect the LORD, you will live longer; if you keep doing wrong, your life will be cut short.”  And finally, in the 19th chapter he said, “Keep God’s laws and you will live longer; if you ignore them, you will die.”  I could go on and on.  This is just what Solomon said about the topic.  Believe me, this is by no means and exhaustive list.

In this verse Solomon makes the connection between premature death and cursing (or disrespecting) one’s parents.  Once again, Solomon is not unique in this teaching.  In Exodus 20 Moses taught this principle and in the New Testament Paul quoted Moses when he said, “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.  “Honor your father and mother.”  This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth” (Eph 6:1-3).  The message is clear: the Father has a special place in his heart for parents.  Just like God will hold parents responsible and accountable for how they raised their children, He holds children responsible and accountable for how they treat their parents.  Not only should children respect all authority, respecting parental authority is particularly important because a blessing or a curse is associated with it.

When I was growing up I had never read what Solomon, Moses, or Paul said about this, but I would never disrespect my mother.  Many of my friends feared their parents – and I literally mean “feared” – but my relationship with my mother was one of reverential respect and not fear.  I did what she asked me to do, not because I was afraid of her punishments (physical or otherwise), but because I loved her and I wanted to please her.  Now that I am a parent I attempt to be the example for my children that my mother was for me.  My children are 17, 15, and 4 and I routinely have conversations with my teenagers about the disrespect that seems to be commonplace in today’s society, even between children and parents.  My children CLEARLY know where I stand on the topic.  If God cares how children treat parents, then we should care too.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the Father expects you to honor your parents.  It does not matter how old you are or how old they are, your parents have a special place in God’s heart, so they should have one in yours.  Now, if you dishonor, disregard, and disrespect your parents you WILL reap what you sow and it will NOT be pleasant; it may even cause a premature death!

Closing Confession:  Jehovah, I love You, my heavenly Father, and I also love my earthly parents.  I honor You and I honor them.  I have read Your Word and I see the special place parents have in Your heart.  I declare openly and unashamedly that my parents also have a special place in my heart.  I don’t honor them JUST to avoid a curse.  No, I honor my parents willingly and lovingly daily; and I will honor them all the days of my life.  Now, since I do honor my parents Your Word tells me that my days will be prolonged in the earth.  I look forward to living long and living strong!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Can You Stand to Be Blessed?

(Prov 20:21 GNB)  The more easily you get your wealth, the less good it will do you.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon goes back to another of his main topics: money.  At the time of this writing Solomon was the richest man in the world (the Bill Gates of his time), so he is more than qualified to speak about money.  But not surprisingly, Solomon downplays the importance of money over and over.  Sure, he does make it clear that money is required to operate in the earth, but money should not be our #1 pursuit.  Too many have made the pursuit of money the driving factor of their lives and without realizing it money has become their god.  ‘You having money’ is not the problem, but ‘money having you’ is a major problem.

What Solomon alludes to this morning is the fact that money is an amplifier; meaning that it simply enables us to do more of what we are already programmed to do.  If you give a giver (someone who supports ministry and charitable ventures) a million dollars, they will give more.  If you give a ministry that is making a difference a million dollars, they can have a greater impact.  But if you give an alcoholic a million dollars, he will drink more.  If you give a drug addict a million dollars, he will take more drugs.  If you give a womanizer a million dollars, he will attempt to ‘run’ more women.  So this is the problem.  An unexpected, and unearned, windfall of money will simply amplify whatever the person is already doing.  Since the money did not come incrementally, and since it was not earned by the sweat of his or her brow, the person receiving the unexpected money is not mentally, psychologically, or spiritually prepared for magnified possibilities the unearned money opens the door to.  In many cases the results can be disastrous.

The Contemporary English Version of this verse makes Solomon’s point painfully clear; it reads: “Getting rich quick may turn out to be a curse.”  I recently watched a television program about the so-called “Lottery curse.”  The program chronicled several lottery winners whose lives seemingly spun out of control after winning the lottery.  Why did this happen?  Solomon knows why.  Because in God’s system you must prove that you can be faithful over what you have before He sees to it that you are promoted to the next level (financially or otherwise).  And once you prove yourself faithful over that level He sees to it that you are promoted to the next, and etc.  This way you are able to learn the lessons you require to properly manage the resources the Father places you over at every level.  If you get promoted too soon it can be a nightmare for you, and for all those associated with what you have oversight of.

Before I close I want to be clear, the Father is NOT against wealth, not by a long shot.  The Lord made Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, and many others extremely wealthy.  But He did it His way and when it comes progressively you are prepared to handle the responsibility of the opportunities the money opens you to.  In the 10th chapter Solomon explained that when the blessing of the LORD brings wealth, trouble doesn’t come with it (10:22).

So what does this mean to you today? It means you should strive to be faithful over where you are right now.  If you prove yourself faithful over what you have (at home, at work, financially, etc.), the Father will see to it that you get promoted.  But if you fail to prove yourself faithful the Father WILL NOT promote you.  In His Kingdom people do NOT get promoted just because of the amount of time that has gone by, they get promoted because of faithfulness.  Success is achieved daily, but it will not come in a day, at least not in God’s system.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for teaching me the importance of being faithful at every level.  I seek to honor You by being faithful over everything You have blessed me to be charge over.  As I prove myself faithful I have complete confidence that You will favor me to experience promotion and incremental increase.  I am not foolish enough to want something that I am not prepared to handle.  Therefore, I gratefully receive all that You believe I can handle and I seek to maximize it.  Step by step I will continue to progress in Your Kingdom and You will see to it that I experience Your best.  It may not come overnight, but since I am committed to being faithful, it will COME!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Walk in Love, NOT Revenge

(Prov 20:22 GNB)  Don’t take it on yourself to repay a wrong.  Trust the LORD and he will make it right.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon has already taught us a great deal about cause and effect, and sowing and reaping.  He has made it clear that God, the Lord of the Harvest, will see to it that everyone reaps whatever they sow.  Back in chapter 11 Solomon said, “Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.”  Once again, who is supposed to see to it that the wicked get punished and the righteous go free?  God is, not us.  Today Solomon drives this message home and teaches us NOT to attempt to take God’s place in the repayment business.  We have all tasted the sting of bad treatment from wicked people.  But we, as believers, are called to operate in love, not revenge

Solomon’s teaching here lines up with Jesus’.  Several thousands after Solomon’s writings Jesus came on the scene and during His now famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’ He said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’  But I tell you…” (Mat 5:38,39), and He went on to teach about love.  Walking in God’s love is our highest calling.  And no matter what skewed impression of love some may have today, God’s love is always quick to forgive and it never seeks retaliation.  God’s love is one-sided; it is NOT contingent upon the actions of the other party.  One-sided love loves, whether the other side loves back or even hates back.  One-sided love is determined and conditioned to love because God said so – PERIOD.

It’s interesting that Solomon was teaching this because the Jewish Law was in full effect during his time.  The Law permitted retaliation, even to the extent of taking someone’s life (see Exodus 21:22-27).  I am sure that Solomon was aware of what Moses wrote in Exodus, but he was being led of God to teach us about trust, peace, and love.

In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome he taught how we – as Born-Again, Spirit-filled, and Christ-centered believers – are supposed to treat others.  He said: “Live in harmony with one another… be willing to associate with people of low position… Do not repay anyone evil for evil… If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”(Romans 12:16-21).  This is not only sound counsel; it is a ‘Biblical Mandate.’  When someone comes up against you, pray for them.  Their poison can’t stop our purpose anyway, so don’t concern yourself with their poison; concern yourself with their person.    Forgive them as you have been forgiven.  Have mercy upon them as you have received mercy.  Pray for them, as you have been the beneficiary of many prayers.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a Biblical Mandate to walk in love and peace with all men.  Paul said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  This means you must do your absolute best to be a peacemaker and not a peace-breaker.  Be quick to forgive, walk in love, and never seek revenge.  Know that God will protect you from every attack of the enemy anyway, so don’t allow their poison to be your concern.  If you want to focus on anything, focus your attention on praying for those that are coming up against you, and watch as God not only moves in their lives, but He will move mightily in your life when you show Him that you are committed to walking in Love!

Closing Confession:  Father, I know that vengeance is Yours and You will see to it that we all reap whatever we sow, so I do not concern myself with attempting to make the wicked pay for their actions.  On the contrary, I stand in the gap for them.  I pray for my enemies.  I intercede for those that come up against me.  I know that their poison can’t stop my purpose, so I don’t have any concern or fear about what they can do TO me, but I do have concern FOR them.  I ask You to bless them, to soften their hearts, and to show Yourself strong in their lives.  Manifest Yourself to my enemies Father, and continue to perfect Your love in my heart!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Walking in Integrity

(Prov 20:23 GNB) The LORD detests double standards; He is not pleased by dishonest scales.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon drives home the message of walking in integrity again.  There must have really been a problem with unrighteousness and deceitful practices in society during his time, prompting Solomon to concentrate on this so much.  But like they say, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same,’ because unrighteous practices are as rampant today as they ever were.  And the unfortunate reality is that unrighteous practices seem to be as commonplace among believers as among non-believers.  Solomon knew that unscrupulous vendors had two sets of scales – one to get more when they were buying, and the other to give less when they were selling – but his point was that the followers of God should be different.  If there is no difference between the world and the church, then how will we ever reach anyone?  How can we shine as light in the midst of darkness if we accept darkness as the norm?

We live in a society today where we have accepted anything and everything under the guise of political-correctness.  No one wants to say that anyone else is wrong.  Statements like: “Who are we to say that anyone else is wrong?” and “To each his own,” have driven us towards an anything goes society.  But God’s Word is still the truth and the truth doesn’t change.  The Message Bible paraphrase of this reads: “GOD hates cheating in the marketplace; rigged scales are an outrage.”  The words “hate” and “outrage” are strong words, but those are the types of words God associates with unrighteous practices.  If we are going to be called by His name, then we should exhibit His characteristics.  In Leviticus, the Lord said through Moses: “You must consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy” (Lev 11:44).  This is not a suggestion, this is a commandment.  There should be something clearly different between the way you do business and the way others, with unscrupulous practices, do business.  People should know that your yes means “YES,” and your word is your bond.

Charles Caleb Colton said, “Nothing so completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity himself, than straightforward and simple integrity in another.”  People will notice when you refuse to fudge a few extra dollars on your expense report.  Others will note the way you always seek to do what is right, because it’s right, and how you then seek to do it right.  That’s how you shine as light in the midst of darkness.

In the New Testament Paul said, “Do not try to work together as equals with unbelievers, for it cannot be done… How can light and darkness live together?  How can Christ and the Devil agree?…  And so the Lord says, “You must leave them and separate yourselves from them.  Have nothing to do with what is unclean, and I will accept you.  I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2nd Cor 6:14-18).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God expects you to be different.  I know this may not be popular teaching today.  Actually, many preachers don’t even mention sin anymore, because they don’t want to upset their congregants.  But God’s Word is still true and it is still the standard.  While God loves the sinner, He still hates the sin and He expects us, as His children, to walk in the righteousness Christ Jesus died to give us.  So be holy, because our God is holy.  Don’t do anything that would discredit His name, even when you think no one else is looking, because God is always looking!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for Your standard.  Your Word is true and it is the ruler by which I judge my decisions.  Christ Jesus died to pay the penalty for my sin and His blood makes me righteous.  I declare, by faith, that I will walk in the righteousness Christ Jesus died to give me.  I walk in the newness of life.  I no longer participate in the unrighteous practices of the world.  I am different.  I am light and I shine I the midst of darkness.  I do what’s right, because it’s right, even when no one else is looking.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

You are Destined!

(Prov 20:24 TNIV)  A person’s steps are directed by the LORD.  How then can anyone understand their own way?

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  We are doing a verse-by-verse study of the book of Proverbs and somehow I skipped over verse 24 yesterday.  Today we will go back and address it.

Have you ever wondered why you were born? I am sure you have.  The pursuit of purpose is the foremost pursuit of most people’s lives.  I was born in Brooklyn to Dominican parents, was raised in a cultural mixing pot, was saved from and during many incidents that could have easily taken or ruined my life, and seemingly randomly joined the United States Army.  The Army afforded me even greater opportunities to mix with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds and a few years into my service I gave my life to Christ.  It was only then that I started to realize the ‘method to the madness’ my life’s path had taken.  The Lord began to show me how He had been grooming me all my life for my life’s assignment.  I did not know it I as I was growing up, but my life’s assignment would involve bringing racial and cultural reconciliation to the Body of Christ.  I had been in training all my life and did know it.  But that’s not it.  I have also always been outgoing and out-front.  The Lord began to show me how He was going to use these qualities for evangelism and leadership in the church.  Further, and most powerfully, I still remember the day the Holy Spirit took me back (almost like a movie) over the many times during my childhood and early adulthood where my life was almost taken.  The Lord showed me how He himself was involved in my protection.  He explained to me how angels had been involved in several key incidents in my childhood and how without their involvement I would have died.  Needless to say, when I realized how much God had been involved in my life, without me even knowing it, it made me want to serve Him even more.  Once I began to realize my purpose it made me want to maximize it before I die.

Solomon asked the question, “How then can anyone understand their own way?”  That is a good question.  I know I could not understand my own way without God and neither could any Biblical character or anyone alive today for that matter.  Jeremiah, for example, had an experience with God where God explained to him that before he was ever born he was destined to be a prophet.  Jeremiah was intimidated about the awesomeness of the responsibility.  Standing before people and speaking for God is not to be taken lightly.  Jeremiah was afraid, but the Lord calmed His fears and said, “Look, I have put My words in your mouth!” (Jer 1:9).  In other words, it’s like God said, “Son, calm down.  To be a prophet you need to be able to speak my words, so since I have destined you to be a prophet, then I am obligated to fulfill my part of the deal.  Here, here are my words and I have placed them in your mouth.  I have done my part, now all I need you to do is yours.”  After this experience Jeremiah’s life was never the same.  He found his purpose and he sought to fulfill it.  I could teach an entire series on this verse alone, but I will stop here for today.

So what does this mean to you today? Lots of things, but here are just a few:

1.  Without God your life will not have true meaning.

2.  It’s only when you come to Christ that you begin to understand your purpose and potential.

3.  If you prayerfully look back over your life you will see God’s hand every step of the way.

4.  Once you are in Christ you must find, follow, and then finish your purpose before you die.

5.  Once you start praying for things that line up with your purpose you will see God answer those prayers quickly.  He is not obligated to give you what is not yours to have.

Closing Confession:  Father, You are awesome.  I was born by Your grace and Your divine providence.  I am no mistake.  I am here for a reason and as I spend time with You in prayer I know that You will show me how You have been involved in my life every step of the way and also how You desire to use me for the remainder of my life.  I will find, follow, and finish my purpose.  I will die empty.  I will get OUT of me all that You have placed IN me while I am in the land of the living.  I refuse to die full of purpose and potential.  I am excited about my future because You have already seen it and You are a part of it!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

God does not take Vows Lightly

(Prov 20:25 NIrV)  A man is trapped if he makes a hasty promise to God and only later thinks about what he said.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon teaches us the importance of our words.  I have preached many messages on this topic, taught several Bible study series, and have taught numerous times in this forum on the importance of our words.  When you come to God in prayer, don’t you want Him to listen to what you are saying and to respond to your words?  Don’t you want angels to go on alert when you bring a petition before heaven?  I hope you do.  But the sad reality is that heaven won’t respond to your words if you prove them to be untrustworthy.  If you don’t even believe what you are saying, then why should heaven?

People have cheapened their words by using them incorrectly – not saying what they mean or meaning what they say – and by failing to follow through with the obligations their words committed them to.  Here’s a novel idea in today’s society: if you promise to do something, you should actually DO it.  The importance of this is magnified when God is involved in the equation.  If you vow something to the Lord, or before the Lord, then He actually expects you to live up to that promise.  So it would serve you well to carefully consider what you say and what obligations you take on (with your words) BEFORE you do so.  The Message Bible paraphrase of this verse reads: “An impulsive vow is a trap; later you’ll wish you could get out of it.”  But the sad reality is that you can’t.  I know that in today’s society you can vow to commit yourself to someone for life, but then change your mind the next week, and society seems to accept that.  Guess what?  God does not.  Once you commit yourself to something, especially when it includes a vow to the Lord, you are committed!

Moses taught: “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, be prompt in fulfilling whatever you promised Him.  For the LORD your God demands that you promptly fulfill all your vows, or you will be guilty of sin.  However, it is not a sin to refrain from making a vow.  But once you have voluntarily made a vow, be careful to fulfill your promise to the LORD your God” (Deut 23:21-23).  In the 30th chapter Moses reemphasized this, saying, “A man who makes a vow to the LORD or makes a pledge under oath must never break it.  He must do exactly what he said he would do” (Deut 30:2).  The language Moses used is strong and the message is loud and clear!  In Ecclesiastes Solomon drives this home again, saying: “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it.  He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.  It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.  Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.”  Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecc 5:4-6).

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

1.  It is much better NOT to vow, than to make a vow to God and then not fulfill it.

2.  God expects you to live up to the obligations you voluntarily took on.  If you don’t, He will hold it against you as sin.

3.  Don’t let your mouth take you where your character can’t keep you.

4.  Pray BEFORE making a vow to anything or anyone – especially when God is involved.

5.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Your word must be your bond!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this reminder.  For my words to be important to You and to Your angels, I know they must first be important to me.  I declare, by faith, that I will carefully think through every obligation and also pray, before I take any on because once I voluntarily commit myself I know I will be committed before You and You will hold me to those commitments.  Instead of my words becoming a liability, I declare that they will be an asset.  I will line up my words with Your Word, I will season my speech with Your grace, I will only commit myself to those things I can fulfill, and in so doing I will enjoy Your grace on all that I say and all that I put my hands to do!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Godly Standards

(Prov 20:26 NIrV)  A wise king gets rid of evil people.  He runs the threshing wheel over them.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  To get this week started right Solomon teaches us that: 1) wise leaders understand their responsibility to enforce standards, 2) the Father expects His children to walk in righteousness, and 3) those who do wrong should expect a level of punishment that equals the crime.  All of that is neatly wrapped up in this one proverb.  Let’s take a closer look at each.

1.  Wise leaders understand their responsibility to enforce standards:  Solomon was a sitting king.  As a monarch he clearly understood the responsibility magistrates had to maintain civility and order within their kingdom.  A king who turned a blind eye to lawlessness is a king who would quickly have chaos on his hands.  It’s wise, therefore, for kings – and all leaders for that matter – to identify and address issues quickly.  The more an issue festers the more it can spread within your span of leadership.  So if you know of any issue, you (as a Godly leader) must address it quickly and adequately, in order to enforce and maintain the standards the Father expects you, and all those under your leadership, to live up to.

2.  The Father expects His children to walk in righteousness:  The people Solomon refers to here are the people who become a cancer to their society or organization.  Instead of being peacemakers, like the Father expects us to be, these people are peace-breakers, taking every opportunity to cause as much turmoil as they can.  Never let this be said of you.  While there will always be people who stir up strife and discord everywhere they go, the Father expects you to be completely different – to be light and salt; to add value to every place you step into.

3.  Those who do wrong should expect a level of punishment that equals the crime:  Solomon explains how a wise king even goes to the extent of having the threshing wheel run over the perpetrators of severe crimes.  The threshing wheel was a tool uses to crush grain.  The weight of the wheel would separate the grain from its husks.  Even after doing a little research about this practice it is still unclear to me whether or not the weight of the wheel would kill the person, but even if it didn’t I am sure it was not a pleasant experience.  The point is that a wise leader doles out merited punishment to make it clear to all that he or she is willing to enforce the standard.  This serves as a deterrent to others and it helps maintain the peace.

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

1.  As a child of God the Father expects you to build up (not tear down) whatever organization He blesses you to be a part of.

2.  As a Godly leader the Father expects you to set high standards and then have the courage to enforce them.

3.  Walking in love does not mean that you have to be a gullible pushover.  Being a Christian does not mean that you have to allow people to ‘get over’ on you.  Jesus never sinned, but He still enforced standards.

4.  Dare to be different.  Don’t succumb to the pressure to lower your standards just so you can ‘fit in.’  If you walk in righteousness and refuse to violate your integrity the Father will see to it that you still get promoted; and you will do so with your integrity and character intact.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for setting high standards and for blessing me to meet them and enforce them.  I don’t lower my standards for the world.  I am thankful for the position I hold and the disposition I maintain.  I will lead with character and integrity.  I correct those who need correction, I will punish those who merit punishment, and I will publically reward those who earn recognition.  I walk in love, but that does not mean that I have to be gullible or naïve. I keep a sharp eye out for standards and I ensure that everything I have influence over is done in excellence.  Thank You Father for teaching me to lead the RIGHT and righteous way.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

The Awesomeness of God

(Prov 20:27 NLT) The LORD’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon teaches us about God’s sovereignty, alluding to God’s omniscience as he tells us of our Heavenly Father’s ability to peer deep down into our inner most being.  Yes, you might be able to fool others with an outward façade.  Actually, I would venture to say that a good portion of society puts up a façade in order to mask who they really are.  But there is no hiding from God.  When God examines us, He does not look at our outward man – our physical strength, beauty, adornments (or lack thereof) – He looks at the heart (1st Sam 16:7).  Jehovah examines us from the inside out.  He looks past the ‘outward face’ we present to others and He looks at our true nature.

Other translations of this verse describe the fact that God uses our human spirit as a lamp that illuminates our inner man to God.  Here is an example: “The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.”  Your human spirit is the real you.  You ARE a spirit, you posses a soul (comprised of your mind, emotions, and will), and you live in a temporary earthly body.  Therefore, it stands to reason that when God wants to examine you He goes directly to core of who you are – your spirit.

In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth he said, “No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit” (1st Cor 2:11).  In context, Paul was teaching about the awesome power of the Holy Spirit and how God actually gives us His Spirit so that we can know what He is thinking.  But while it was not the crux of his writing, Paul does make it clear that no one can know another person’s thoughts (or intent), unless they have access to that person’s spirit.  While this is humanly impossible, it is clearly God-possible.  God has direct access to each and every one of us.  No one can hide from His eyes.  He sees us all and He sees all of us.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that this reality should cultivate our:

1.  Godly fear:  Not the type of fear that brings torment and timidity, but rather the type of fear that prompts us towards reverential respect.  Someone asked the question: “If Jesus followed you around all day and heard everything you said, saw every place you went, and did everything you did WITH you, would you do anything different?”  Most people’s reply is “Yes!”  However, if you are a Born-Again then God is already with you 24 hours a day, every day of your life.  You should respect His presence and purpose in your life enough to live like He is there!

2.  Godly comfort:  On the other hand it is awesome to realize that you are NEVER (and I mean NEVER) alone.  You should find comfort in knowing that our heavenly Father will never leave nor forsake you.  He is there WITH you as you read this and He will be WITH YOU and FOR YOU ever second of every day of your life.  Isn’t that an awesome reality?  And guess what?  He knows everything you have ever done and He still loves you.  Who would not WANT to serve a God like that?

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for the reality of Your presence, purpose, and power.  I understand that You understand everything about me.  It has occurred to me that nothing ever occurs to You.  You know everything there is to know, about me and otherwise, and You still love me.  For that I simply say, “Thank You!”  I seek to honor You with my life and living.  I seek to bring You glory.  I know You walk with me everywhere I go, therefore I declare, by faith, that I will not take You places You should not be.  I will not grieve You by disrespecting Your presence.  I lay everything at Your feet.  Every part of my life is naked and open before You.  Cleanse me, purge me, purify me, and use me for Your glory!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Leading in Love

(Prov 20:28 NLT)  Unfailing love and faithfulness protect the king; his throne is made secure through love.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In the New Testament, when writing to his spiritual son, Paul said, “First, I want all of you to pray for everyone.  Ask God to bless them.  Give thanks for them.  Pray for kingsPray for all who are in authority.  Pray that we will live peaceful and quiet lives.  And pray that we will be godly and holy” (1st Tim 2:1,2).  Why did Paul instruct Timothy to pray for kings and those who were in authority?  Because he understood that there is a connection between ruler and people.  The ruler has the ability and the authority to make decisions for the people and their decisions influence the people’s lives.  Solomon also understood this; even more so because he was a king himself.  Solomon understood the fact that he was clearly in authority.  Later in Proverbs Solomon said, “Show me a righteous ruler and I will show you a happy people.  Show me a wicked ruler and I will show you a miserable people” (29:2); once again driving home the connection between ruler and people.

There is no question in my mind as to whether or not Solomon understood the fact that he was in authority.  Most leaders clearly understand the span of control they have.  Being in authority is not normally the issue.  The issue comes when someone wants to be IN authority, but not UNDER authority.  It’s dangerous to have authority without accountability.  Everyone who leads should also have someone who leads them.  This way you have no problem exercising authority, because you also understand the importance of submitting to it.

This leads us to our verse for this morning.  Solomon teaches us here that those in authority should acknowledge the God that blessed them to be there, to the extent that they seek to emulate God’s character as they seek to fulfill the duties of the office wherewith they have been charged.  Since God is love (1st John 4:8 & 16) and since all authority comes from Him (Rom 13:1), then all those in authority should seek to walk in love, in order to please the God that put them there.  Leaders who displease God by mistreating His people can quickly find themselves out of a job.  To really get this message, let’s read this verse from a few different translations: The Contemporary English Version: “Rulers are protected by God’s mercy and loyalty, but they must be merciful for their kingdoms to last;” the Message Bible: “Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity;” and the Good News Bible: “A king will remain in power as long as his rule is honest, just, and fair.”

So what does this mean to you today? It means that as a leader you must:

1.  Realize that your decisions directly impact the lives of those you lead.

2.  Acknowledge the fact that your authority has been given to you by God.

3.  Recognize the face that while you are IN authority, you are also UNDER authority.

4.  Seek to emulate the character of the God who gave you the position.

5.  Lead in love.  If you maintain love your position will be maintained and you will continue to experience Godly success.  Love is God’s highest requirement!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for blessing me to be able to lead.  I declare, by faith, that I will lead in love.  I seek to emulate You in every area of my life and especially in those areas and ways that impact the lives of others.  You have been merciful to me, therefore I will be merciful to others.  You have been kind to me, therefore I will be kind to others.  While I refuse to be a pushover, I also refuse to be a person who continually stirs up strife.  I become the example and the conduit of Your love that You need me to be.  I impact my sphere of influence with Your love, light, and wisdom.  You have blessed me TO BE a blessing and I WILL be just that, in the earth, all the days of my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Young and Old – Together!

(Prov 20:29 NLT) The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon teaches us that both the young and the old have their advantages and can therefore add value in different ways to the Body of Christ.  And that’s what it is all about.  None of us is as good as all of us.  It takes all of us to make up the body.  While teaching on the collective Body of Christ Paul said, “The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.”  The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”  In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary” (1st Cor 12:21,22).  While we are different parts – with different giftings, callings, weaknesses, and strengths – we all need each other to make up the Body.  You may not do what I do, but I may not do what you do, so if either one of us were missing from the Body, then there would be a gap that only we could fill.

The young take pride in their strength and agility, and there is nothing wrong with taking care of one’s physical body, just as long as you are willing to use that strength, vigor, and vitality for the Kingdom of God.  But make no mistake, scarcely are the young considered wise.  They may have vigor and vitality, but most require assistance in understanding how to properly channel that energy.  And that is where the older generation comes in.  Older believers may not have strength and agility they once had, but their many years of experience have afforded them the opportunity to grow in grace and wisdom.  It would make sense, then, for the younger generation to respect the older generation’s understanding and experience.

Neither group (young or old) should despise the other, for both can add value to the Kingdom off God.  In the Apostle John’s first letter he addresses both groups, saying: “You veterans were in on the ground floor, and know the One who started all this; you newcomers have won a big victory over the Evil One… You veterans know the One who started it all; and you newcomers—such vitality and strength!  God’s word is so steady in you.  Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the Evil One” (1st John 2:13 & 14).  The Veterans had the advantage of being there for the long haul.  The newcomers had the advantage of learning from the veterans and then coupling everything the veterans taught them with their own personal experiences.  This enables the newcomers to be much further along than the veterans were when they were babes in Christ.  Why?  Because the newcomers were not starting from scratch.  It is never God’s design for your children to have to start where you started.  The Father wants the young to take advantage of the wisdom already garnered by the old.  Why learn the same lessons your forefather already learned?  Learn from them and then couple the wisdom they gave you with the wisdom you gain through your own personal experiences.  This way you can make maximum use of your strength!

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

1.  The youth have the strength, vigor and vitality, but they may not have the wisdom to channel that energy the right way.

2.  The old have the wisdom gained from many years of experience, but they may not have the strength to maximize it anymore.

3.  If the young and old come together they will cancel out each other’s weaknesses and the Body of Christ will be much more effective!

4.  Whether you are young or old, you can add value to God’s Kingdom!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  This is a life changing Word.  I declare, by faith, that I will maximize my purpose and potential while I am in the land of the living.  I allow those that You have blessed with many years of experience to pour into me.  And I am committed to pouring into others all those things that You bless me to receive.  I channel my energy the right way, I partner with the other generation, and together we shall make the impact that You desire for us to make in the earth.  Young and old, together, making a difference!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Do you have a DESIRE to CHANGE?

(Prov 20:30 NLT)  Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  My first reaction after reading this verse was to think, “That can’t mean what it just said.”  Why did I think that?  Because we don’t normally teach about outward punishment for inward cleansing.  Our normal emphasis, when teaching on the cleansing of the inner-man, is on Jesus’ finished work on the Cross (i.e. the Blood of Jesus), and the cleansing power of the Word of God.  Why would I focus on the outward-man when I am trying to effectuate change to the inner-man?  Solomon gives us the answer: because some people are so hardheaded, stiff-necked, and obstinate that they will never willingly accept the gentle truth of God’s Word, nor hear God’s still small voice, until they feel a level of physical pain associated with the error of their ways.

In the last chapter Solomon said, “Anyone who burns with anger must pay for it.  If you save him, you will have to do it again.” As I commented on that verse I said: “When you love someone and you see him or her in trouble your immediate reaction is to help get him or her out.  However, Solomon teaches us here that there is a level of goodness in allowing someone to deal with the repercussions of their actions… we have to allow them to pay for what they have done, because if we do not, they will find themselves in that situation again and we will have to continue to rescue them.  What it comes down to is this: If you get someone out of a bind, but you fail to change their mind, then it is only a matter of time before they do it again.  Mind renewal is the key.”  And therein lies the point of this morning’s message.  For you to submit to the process of mind renewal, you must FIRST have a desire to change.  The problem is that many people never develop the desire to change until they endure a truly painful experience.  The Good News Bible translation of this verse brings this out, it reads: “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.”

In “Mental Toughness for Success” Dr. I.V. Hilliard shares what he calls the “DARE Method for Change.”  DARE stands for:

  1. Decide:  Decide what you want to change and what you want to look like after you have changed.
  2. Associate:  Associate real pain with your old behavior.  This is the crux of today’s message.  Until a person associates real pain with their old behavior, they will develop the DESIRE to change.
    1. List the worst possible thing that could happen if you do not change.
    2. List the best possible thing that can happen if you do.
  3. Recall:  Recall the experiences that have kept you down in the past.  Until you deal with your past defeat, you may never change.
  4. Envision:  Envision yourself as the “totally new” you; like your mentor or model.  Who do you want to be like?

So what does this mean to you today? It means that our loving, caring, and sharing heavenly Father loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.  If you are too hardheaded to submit to His Word, listen to His Spirit, or follow the counsel of His Pastors, then He will sit by and watch as you endure the pain (physical or otherwise) associated with the error of your ways.  What will it take for you to WANT to change?

Closing Confession:  Father, I declare by faith that I don’t have to wake up in a jail cell or a hospital bed to develop the desire to change.  I am Your child and Your Word tells me that I am destined to be conformed to the image of Your Son Jesus.  I don’t fight the process.  I want to daily become more and more like Jesus.  I declare that I will.  I have been through enough already.  I don’t need any more pain to get me to the point where I willingly submit to You and Your process.  I receive Your Word with gladness, I humbly submit to Your correction, I listen for Your still small voice, and I heed the counsel of those that You have assigned to speak into my life.  As I do this I will grow, develop, and mature into the person You desire for me to be!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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