Proverbs Chapter 21

by Rick

King of kings

(Prov 21:1 NLT)  The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; He guides it wherever He pleases.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon once again references the sovereignty of God.  This subject is not new to us.  In chapter 16 Solomon said, “We humans make plans, but the LORD has the final word” (v.1) and “In your heart you plan your life.  But the LORD decides where your steps will take you” (v.9).  In the last chapter Solomon said, “A person’s steps are directed by the LORD.  How then can anyone understand their own way?” (20:24).  In the lessons that corresponded with those verses we learned of God’s sovereignty, but we were also reminded of our responsibility.  I know when you first read this morning’s verse and you see the words “He guides it wherever He pleases,” it sounds like Solomon is saying that kings don’t have a will at all; as if to say that they are simply puppets and God Almighty is the grand puppeteer.  However, you and I know that that would not be congruent with the rest of scripture.  No, there is a dual aspect—God and man, man and God—to our lives.  If we didn’t have a say in the matter, then why pray?  Why plan?  Why petition anything of the Lord or bring anything before the Lord is He is simply going to do what He wants to do anyway?  You and I both know—from the Word, life, and experience—that God has a part and we have a part.  Solomon speaks to God’s sovereignty, but he also spends a great deal of time speaking to our responsibility.  God’s sovereignty does not alleviate us of the weight of our decisions, but rather adds on us the additional task of seeking God’s will and of aligning our decisions with it.  If that is true for us, then it is also true for kings, for those in authority.

In Solomon’s day, kings possessed absolute authority and were often considered to be like gods.  Solomon was actually a sitting-king at the time of this writing.  By saying what he said Solomon was acknowledging the fact that while he was clearly in authority (here in the earth), he also understood that he was under authority.  Solomon was a king, but he acknowledged the Lord as the King of kings.  Solomon’s message is that all authority, kings or otherwise, is ultimately subordinate to God’s authority.  God can influence kings just like He influences us.  God can see to it that the work of kings’ hands is either blessed or ineffective, just like He does with the work of our hands.  God can see to it that kings are promoted or removed, just like He can in our lives.  The bottom line is that kings are no different from anyone else.  Those in authority are only there because God allows them to be there.  While their influence is unquestionable, their position is perishable.  If leaders routinely abuse the authority they have been given, they can quickly find themselves without it.  However, if leaders allow themselves to be influenced by the God who blessed them to be there in the first place, then God will continue to bless them TO BE a blessing and they will find that they span of control will continue to expand and God moves them up the proverbial ‘ladder’ of whatever organizational structure they are operating in.

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

1.  If you are a leader, then thank God for blessing you to have the authority, but remember that God has ultimate authority!

2.  Use your influence for God’s glory.  If you allow God to lead you as you lead others, then you will experience supernatural success in the earth.  People will be amazed by your leadership ability and astounded by your wisdom – all because you allow yourself to be led by the greatest leader!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for giving me the sphere or influence and the span of control that You have.  I am blessed to be able to make a difference in the lives of others daily.  I declare that I will.  I submit to You, as my ultimate authority and I ask You to lead me as I attempt to lead others.  I thank You in advance for giving me supernatural insight so that I can comprehend the complex, manage the seemingly unmanageable, connect with the distant, and lead with compassion.  Your hand upon my life makes me an exceptional leader.  I enter this day with great expectations.  You and me, me and You, together, let’s go make a difference!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Your True Self

(Prov 21:2 BBE)  Every way of a man seems right to himself, but the Lord is the tester of hearts.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon teaches us two things: 1) that every one of us should routinely talk self-inventory, and 2) that even when we do perform self-examination it can be deceitful because we sometimes subconsciously convince ourselves that we are right, even when we are dead-wrong.  Even though it is sometimes difficult to acknowledge the error of our ways, we must try lest be become the fool Solomon spoke of back in chapter 12 when he said, “The way of a fool seems right to him” (v.15).  So what’s the answer?  What can we do to make sure we are truly on the right path?  Ask God!  God will tell us when we are truly right and when we are truly wrong.  We may be able to fool ourselves, but we will never be able to fool Him!

This verse reminds me of the Johari window.  The Johari window is a cognitive psychological tool created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955.  It’s basically a tool used to help people better understand themselves.  Imagine a window with four panes.  The first pane is called “the arena.”  This is the part of you that is known to both you and others.  This is where you are most comfortable.  You don’t feel like you need to hide anything about this part of your life.  However, the second pane is called “the façade.”  This is the part of you that you know about, but that you fail to expose to others.  You put up a façade in hopes that others will not be able to see what you think is the ‘real you.’  The third pane is called “the blind spot.”  This is the part of you that is known to others, but is blind to you.  We are often blind to our own faults and what may be obvious to others can be painfully incomprehensible to us; which is actually what Solomon is teaching about today.  And lastly, the fourth pane is called, “the unknown.”  This is the part of you that is both blind to others and yourself.  There are parts of you that are still undiscovered.  As you journey through life and evolve both you and others will discover things about you that you never knew before.  But guess what?  God knew.  God knows everything you will ever do and He planned out your life accordingly.  So spending time with God is definitely time well spent.  He can prepare you for your future in ways that you would have never prepared yourself.  So be honest with God, expose your flaws to Him (it’s not like He doesn’t already see them), and ask Him to make the necessary course corrections you need to stay on His desired path for your life.

The issue of correction is really the main issue of this text.  This was a problem back in Solomon’s time, but I believe it is even more of a problem today.  When is the last time you attempted to correct someone?  This is often a difficult task today because our society promotes the idea that everyone has the “right” to walk their own walk and to live their own lives their own way.  Today the ‘everything goes’ mentality is prevalent within our society, to the point where it many don’t see the need for correction.  Why would you need correction if anything and everything is right?  If we are not careful, we can raise up an entire generation of people who will always see themselves as right, innocent, and righteous (albeit self-righteous).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God looks at your heart.  He sees your inner motives.  He looks past your façade and even past your limited understanding.  If you truly want to be right, then seek to be right with God.  Ask Him to expose to you your inner faults and flaws.  When God does, ask Him to help you to make the corrections you need to make in order to become the person He desires for you to be.  There is an overwhelming peace that overtakes you when know that you are right with God.  Seek that peace today.

Closing Confession:  Father, You know me, inside and out.  You know the error of my ways.  You know my deep motives.  You know things about me that I don’t even know about myself.  I ask You to reveal all the things to me that I need to correct.  I want to be the very best person that I can be, for You and for others.  Lead me, guide me, direct me, and expose my true self to me, so that I can make change for the better.  I want to be naked, open, and unashamed before You.  I want the peace that comes from knowing that I am right with You and right with others.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Obedience is Better than Sacrifice

(Prov 21:3 CEV) Doing what is right and fair pleases the LORD more than an offering.

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 obedience and righteousness before God.  Someone asked me: “Do people go to church to be righteous?”  I replied, “No, but righteous people go to church.”  They continued: “Do people forgive to be righteous?”  I replied, “No, but righteous people forgive.”  They asked me one more… “Do people give money to be righteous?”  I replied, “No, but righteous people support ministry.”  What is the common theme of that line of questioning?  It is that some people make the mistake of thinking that something they do (externally) for God is more important than the internal condition of their heart.  The Father does not want your stuff, He wants you! You may perform lots of religious rituals, but it means nothing to the Father if He does not have your willing submission, obedience, and worship.

The Message Bible paraphrase of this verse is powerful, it reads: “Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to GOD than religious performance.”  The Father is not interested in your ritualistic practices if your heart is not right before Him.  Our Lord is looking to be your Lord; a personal Lord who is either Lord OF all or He is not Lord AT all.  And not just with outward performances, but with pure hands and a clean heart.

This reminds me of king Saul and the critical mistake he made when he got too big in his own eyes.  Saul got to the point where he thought he could disregard what God instructed him to do.  Saul did just that and when the Lord’s anger was kindled against him.  The Lord sent the prophet Samuel to rebuke Saul.  Samuel said, “When the LORD sent you on this mission, he told you to wipe out those worthless Amalekites.  Why didn’t you listen to the LORD?  Why did you keep the animals and make him angry?”  The Lord had given Saul explicit instructions kill the Amalekites and everything they had.  However, Saul decided to do something else with a portion of the spoils.  This is how Saul replied to Samuel: “But I did listen to the LORD!  He sent me on a mission, and I went.  I captured King Agag and destroyed his nation.  All the animals were going to be destroyed anyway.  That’s why the army brought the best sheep and cattle to Gilgal as sacrifices to the LORD your God.”  Did you catch that?  All the animals were supposed to be killed immediately, but Saul decided to make an elaborate offering, with the animals, to God – to the same God that had already told him what to do. Samuel responded: “Tell me, does the LORD really want sacrifices and offerings?  No!  He doesn’t want your sacrificesHe wants you to obey him.  Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice.  You refused to do what God told you, so God has decided that you can’t be king” (see 1st Samuel 15:18-23).

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

1.  Sacrifices (or offerings) are not bribes to make God overlook our character flaws.

2.  We can’t buy God’s favor or attempt to exchange good behavior in one area for bad behavior in another.

3.  Partial obedience is disobedience.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for explaining to me the importance of obedience and submission to You.  I don’t take my relationship with You lightly.  I know that I am Your son and You are my loving, caring, and sharing heavenly Father, but I will never disrespect You by taking Your position in my life lightly. While You are my Father, You are also my Lord, and I will willingly and humbly submit to You as such.  I offer sacrifices and offerings, not in an attempt to cover anything up, but rather as a form of clear worship.  I come to You with clean hands and a pure heart.  I want to be naked, open, and unashamed before You.  Because I am committed to full obedience, I and positive that You are committed to using me for Your glory!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

What are You Known By?

(Prov 21:4 GNB)  Wicked people are controlled by their conceit and arrogance, and this is sinful.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon has already spent a great deal of time painting the picture of how we are supposed to live.  Every once in a while it seems like he throws in a few scriptures like this, so we can see what we are NOT supposed to do or look like.  As a believer our identifying characteristic should be the love of God (see John 13:35, 1st John 4:8).  God is love and since we are in Him and He is in us, He expects us to operate in His love.  If we are His children and we are called by His name, then it stands to reason that we would look like, walk like, talk like, and act like Him in the earth.  When people see us they should see God.  John said, “As He is, so are we in this world” (1st John 4:17); and the “He” John refers to is Jesus Himself.  So just as Jesus is – loving, caring, sharing, compassionate, merciful, inclined to forgive, disposed to do good, and etc. – so are we to be in this world!  Did you get that?  We are supposed to be like Jesus NOW!  In this world.  In our present state.  In our daily lives.  Not some day, not when we make it to heaven, not in our glorified bodies, but RIGHT NOW, today!  The Father expects you and I to be like His Son every day.  We are destined to be conformed into His image (Romans 8:29), and when we are, when we allow the Father to transform us into the image of His Son, then Jesus becomes the “firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29).  In the gospels, while Jesus was still alive, Jesus was the “only begotten of the Father,” (John 1:14, 1:18, 3:16), but now, after Jesus conquered death, hell and the grave, and after He has poured out His spirit upon every person who accepts Him as Lord, He is now the “firstborn among many brothers.”  In other words, before Jesus’ death and resurrection, He was the only one communing directly with the Father and being led of the Spirit, but now every Born-Again believer is supposed to be this way.  We are supposed to look just like Jesus in the earth – making a difference everywhere we go.

This brings us back to our text for this morning.  The Message Bible paraphrase of this verse reads: “Arrogance and pride—distinguishing marks in the wicked—are just plain sin.”  Arrogance and pride are not supposed to be our distinguishing marks.  As Solomon states, they are just plain sin.  As believers we are called to operate in love, because God IS love, and love is not arrogant or boastful.  Paul said, “Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily” (1st Corinthians 13:4).  When you operate in God’s love you don’t have excessively high and twisted opinion of yourself and you definitely don’t look down on others.  Pride is what got satan kicked out of heaven.  Isaiah explained it: “Satan said, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.  I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13,14).  What do you see in those two verses?  Satan had an excessively high opinion of himself, God was not in his conversation at all, and he paid the price for it.

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

1.  Arrogance and pride are the identifying characteristics of satan and his followers.

2.  Love is THE identifying characteristic of Jesus and His followers.

3.  Your actions (not just your words) tell others which one you are following!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for Your Word and I thank You for Your love.  You love has been poured out in my heart by the Holy Spirit and I am now able to operate in Your love daily.  I flow in your love so strong that others can see it, feel it, and get transformed by it.  I am known as a child of God because I am known for Your love.  Your love is my identifying characteristic.  I prove I love You by loving others daily.  I am loved, I believe Your love, I have faith in Your love, and Your love has transformed me into a vessel of love, light, grace, and peace!  I declare this by faith!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Planning, and then Working the Plan!

(Prov 21:5 NLT) Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon was running a kingdom with a billion dollar surplus at the time of this writing.  The Blessing of the Father was operating in his life and on the nation.  No one could say that Israel was not experiencing supernatural favor.  Other nations knew that Israel was blessed BECAUSE of the overwhelming success the nation and it’s citizens experienced.  So now, the questions is, did they have anything to do with it? Was Solomon and his kingdom Blessed because of God’s goodness alone or did was God working with them, because they were honoring Him and following His principles?  Or let me ask the question another way, do you have a role in your success? Do your actions have anything to do with your prosperity (physically, spiritually, socially, financially)?  I think you know the answer, but most of us don’t want to acknowledge it.  Of course we have a role.  Of course our actions matter.  Just look at the nation of Israel as an example.  If you read Chronicles and Kings you will see the success of the nation go up and down and it was always based upon the decisions of it’s leader and citizens.  When the leader and people honored God and did what He said the nation was blessed, when they did not they were not.  Was God still God?  You better believe it!  God was God the entire time, but their success was largely contingent upon their willingness to cooperate with the God they claimed they served.

Don’t mistake this teaching, however, to negate in any way the grace of God.  There are times when God blesses us in spite of our foolishness.  Believe me, I have experienced that type of grace, mercy, and favor more times than I can count.  We serve a GOOD God and we should never forget it.  However, we should not tempt His goodness by continually ignoring His Word, will, and way; and then still expecting His blessing to flow in our lives.

Now, you may be thinking, “Okay Rick, so what does this have to do with our text for today?”  It actually has a lot to do with it.  Solomon is explaining how we must be deliberate in our pursuit of success.  Don’t think that once you become a Christian that everything is magically going to be alright and that you don’t have to work hard anymore.  I am convinced that many Christians are looking for ‘abra cadabra’ (for magic), because they don’t want to put in the work required for Godly success.  In chapter 10 Solomon said, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth” (v.4), and in chapter 13 he said, “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied” (13:4).  There is no way around it, if you want to experience success (physically, spiritually, socially, and financially), then you are going to have to do your part and work for it.  Now, if you do it God’s way you will experience His favor on everything you put your hand TO DO.  But you if you don’t put you hands TO DO anything, then you are not giving God anything to bless.

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

1.  Receive:  Pray, seek God, and then receive and lay out your plan/vision.  If it’s from God it’s going to be BIG – too big for you to accomplish without Him.

2.  Do:  Be clear about your plan and then work the plan.  Do your part in your destiny.  God has gifted you, but it is up to you to put those gifts in motion!

3.  Become:  What you believe YOU must be determined to become!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for blessing me to receive vision for my life and with the vision also the insight, wisdom, revelation, and knowledge to do my portion to bring it to pass.  I know the vision is too big for me to accomplish without You, so I am definitely relying on You to do Your part, but I also know that You will expect me to do whatever You equip me to do.  I declare this morning that I will.  I believe You for great things and then I step out in faith to accomplish those things for Your glory.  I am determined to become what I believe.  I dream big dreams.  I receive and lay out diving plans and then I work the plan with the full confidence that You will favor all that I put my hands TO DO!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Dishonest Gain is not Worth it

(Prov 21:6 NLT) Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  The last couple of years have been difficult times for many and the financial struggles of the national economy have spilled over into the lives and personal economies of many Americans, believers and unbelievers alike.  The Word of God is always good and this scripture would apply to us at any time, but in today’s economy the lesson is even greater.  Because of the current financial pressures some have succumb to the temptation to do wrong, to cut corners, to tell ‘white’ lies, and to violate their integrity to make ends meet.  And then again, there are those who pursue wealth unscrupulously whether the economy is up or down.  Solomon warns us from falling into the trap of thinking that a quick buck, earned dishonestly, is the answer.  The dishonest wealth may come, but just like it came it will surely go, because anything that you have to compromise your integrity and the integrity of God’s Word to attain is going to be temporary at best and severely detrimental at worst.

The God’s Word translation of this verse reads: “Those who gather wealth by lying are wasting time.  They are looking for death.”  If you know better, then you ought to do better, because if you consciously sow bad seed the Father, who is the Lord of the Harvest, is not going to sit by and allow you to reap a good harvest.  Bad seed produces a bad harvest every time. Back in chapter 10 Solomon said, “Tainted wealth has no lasting value” (v.2).  In today’s scripture Solomon describes tainted wealth as a vanishing mist or a vapor.  It might be here today, but rest assured that it will be gone tomorrow.  Why?  Because it was not gained the right way.  What good is it to seek progress the wrong way, when you know that ill-gotten progress is actually regress?

In chapter 13 Solomon said, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (v.11).  Do you want to leave a legacy (spiritual and natural) for your children and your children’s children?  Then do thing right before God.  You cannot violate His Word and then expect to walk in His blessing.

One of the major ways the enemy has gotten believers off of God’s destined path for their lives is with the lure of a quick buck.  In Paul’s first letter to his spiritual son Timothy he spoke of this.  Paul said, “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows” (1st Tim 6:9,10).

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

1.  Never violate your Godly integrity for a quick buck; it’s not worth it.

2.  Beware of the money’s seduction.  If you LOVE money it is only a matter of time before you do something you should not do to get it.  The LOVE OF MONEY will get you in trouble.

3.  Don’t pursue things, pursue God.  If you pursue God things will pursue you (Mat 6:33).

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for giving me Your Word, filling me with Your Spirit, and leading me into all truth.  Your Spirit convicts me when I am going astray.  I declare, by faith, that I listen to Your voice, I respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and I abstain from every kind of evil.  I walk in integrity, I honor You with my words and deeds, I am a faithful steward over the finances You bless to come into my hands, and I prosper the right way.  I don’t pursue things, I pursue You, and because I do, things pursue me.  I know You want me to be blessed physically, spiritually, and financially, but I also know that You don’t want me to dishonor You in the process.  I won’t!  I honor You and I know You will honor me!  All my needs shall be met according to Your riches in glory, by Christ Jesus!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

The Choice is Yours

(Prov 21:7 CEV) You destroy yourself by being cruel and violent and refusing to live right.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon once again drives home the importance of our decisions.  Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, our decisions and actions matter.  The type of seed we sow determines the type of harvest we reap.  I run into people all the time who know the Word of God, but choose to violate it’s commands, disrespecting and disregarding God in the process, and then when things go haywire in their lives they come to me and ask, “How could God allow this to happen?”  Or even worse, “Why did God do this to me?”  If we would be honest we would stop blaming God (and even satan) for everything.  Sometimes we simply make foolish decisions and our foolishness gets us in trouble.  Now, thank God for His grace, goodness, mercy, and loving kindness, and it is awesome when God intervenes and stops us from receiving what we deserve, but don’t get upset if you actually wind up reaping a bad harvest after sowing bad seed.  If you continue to ignore God’s Word, will and way, Solomon tells us that you will wind up destroying yourself.  And guess what?  You won’t have anyone to blame but yourself.  If you know better, then you ought to DO better!

This is made very clear in Deuteronomy chapter 28.  This chapter outlines both THE BLESSING (that comes from obeying God) and THE CURSE that can come from disobeying God.  Moses said, “Today I am giving you the laws and teachings of the LORD your God. Always obey them, and the LORD will make Israel the most famous and important nation on earth, and he will bless you in many ways. The LORD will make your businesses and your farms successful. You will have many children. You will harvest large crops… You will have plenty of bread to eat… successful in your daily work… successful in everything you do. Your harvests will be so large that your storehouses will be full… everyone on earth will know that you belong to the LORD, and they will be afraid of you… You will have plenty of money to lend to other nations, but you won’t need to borrow any yourself.”  And this is just and excerpt.  The picture of Moses paints of living in THE BLESSING is awesome.  But then he goes on to say, “And if you don’t obey them all, he will put many curses on you. Your businesses and farms will fail. You won’t have enough bread to eat. You’ll have only a few children, your crops will be small, and your herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats won’t produce many young… etc,” I believe you get the point.  I taught an entire series about this chapter.  I entitled the series, “The Good Life,” (click here to visit “The Good Life” page online) and talked about how your decisions and actions will determine whether or not you walk in THE BLESSING or THE CURSE.

A couple of chapters later Moses again drives home the importance of their decisions by saying, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” (30:19).

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that the choice is yours.  You can either choose to follow God’s instructions and enjoy His best, or you can choose to ignore them and deal with the consequences.  What will you choose?

Closing Confession:  Father, You have set before me life and blessing, death and cursing, and You have given me the ability and the right to choose between them.  Additionally, You have already given me the answer and told me to choose life, so that I and my descendants could experience the life You desire for me to have.  I pass the test.  I choose life and blessing.  I want to experience Your best in the earth.  I declare, by faith, that I will walk in obedience all the days of my life.  I don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.  I listen to Him and He leads me daily.  As I walk with Him and He walks with me, together we get to make the impact and positive change in the earth that You desire to make.  I partner with You to share Your love, light, and goodness to others and You see to it that I experience Your best along the way!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Can People Tell the Difference?

(Prov 21:8 NASB) The way of a guilty man is crooked, But as for the pure, his conduct is upright.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon contrasts the crooked ways of the sinner with the pure ways of the believer; the point being that there should be a stark different between the two.  The word “crooked” in this text means twisted or wicked (like whickered, e.g. whickered furniture).  People without God can live twisted lives without even recognizing it.  The enemy can blind the eyes of the wicked to the point where they truly believe that wrong is right and right is wrong.  Back in chapter two Solomon said that these people, “Take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil.  Their actions are crooked, and their ways are wrong” (verses 14 & 15).  Have you ever met someone whose ways – their common way of doing things – was twisted?  Satan is a master of deceiving people into believing that they are on the right path when they are clearly wrong and because many are deceived, they use their natural passion to live life in the wrong way; directing their energy and effort towards things are not promoting Godly good.  Many of these people take pleasure in doing wrong because their moral compass is skewed; it is calibrated towards wickedness to the point that they enjoy twisted ways.

I know I keep using words like “right” and “wrong” and these words are almost taboo in today’s society.  I have gotten into many conversations with people who try to tell me that there is no right or wrong.  They like to believe that we are just different.  They want to find solace in thinking that living in sin is not wrong, but just their choice.  They shun away from anyone who believes in an absolute right.  Why?  Because they realize that if the Bible is right, then they are wrong and they just don’t want to come to grips with that.

Many living in sin take pleasure in it.  I know I was a good sinner.  When I was a sinner I did my best to live like one.  So it would be foolish of me to expect a sinner to live like a believer.  A person that is not redeemed, that has not been Born Again, that does not have God’s Spirit living on the inside of them, and that does not ascribe the truth in God’s Word is simply not equipped or positioned to live a life that is pleasing to God.  That’s why we must share the truth of the Gospel with the lost.  But Solomon’s point this morning is that if we can agree that sinners live twisted lives, then we must also agree that believers should not! There should be a clear difference between the sinner and the believer.  We should not be twisted.  Our compass should not be calibrated towards unrighteousness.  Our perspective should not be perverted.  Our desires should be pure.  Our hunger and thirst should be towards righteousness.  And our conduct and character should be representative of the God who claim we serve; the same God who lives in us and we in Him.

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

1.  There should be a clear difference between your conduct (as a believer) and the conduct of sinners.

2.  There are only two things the Bible says God is: Light and Love.  If you claim to be in God and Him in you, then you must walk in the light (not darkness) and walk in love (not selfishness), this way people will know who your God is.

3.  There is no such thing as an undercover Christian.  If you no one knows you are a Christian, then it is time to take self-inventory.  You don’t have to go around screaming “Jesus, Jesus;” your conduct and character should be enough.  Your life (not just your words) is the best sermon!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for the reminder this morning.  I recognize the fact that I have been called out of darkness and into Your marvelous light.  I know that I have been translated from the kingdom of dankness into the Kingdom of Your dear Son Jesus.  I am in You and You are in me.  I am born of God and I am not ashamed of it.  I declare, by faith, that my conduct and character will represent You all the days of my life.  People will know the God I serve.  People will be able to see a clear difference between my life and the life of a sinner.  You are light, therefore I am light and I abstain from darkness.  You are love, therefore I am love and I abstain from selfishness.  You flow through me today and every day!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

The Danger of a Nagging Wife

(Prov 21:9 CEV) It’s better to stay outside on the roof of your house than to live inside with a nagging wife.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  My wife and I have joked about this verse for many years.  While Solomon’s delivery sounds funny, there is a profound message here if we would take the time to understand it.

Back in chapter 18 Solomon said, “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD” (18:22).  I preached yesterday and in my introduction, while mentioning my wife, I quoted this verse and I talked about the tremendous blessing she is to me.  The Father really knew what he was doing when he paired with up with the former Isabella Toussaint.  She has been able to bring out the best in me.  As chapter 18 says, in my wife I found a treasure and I have experienced the favor of the Lord because of her.  However, there is a stark contrast between the favor magnet of chapter 18 and the nagging wife of chapter 21.  Both are wives, but one is able to bring out the best in her husband, the other has a knack for bringing out the worst; resulting in her husband preferring the corner of the roof to her presence.

It has been said that every man has both a king and a fool in him, and which ever one is spoken to more, which ever one is nurtured and developed, that will be the one he becomes.  I can say, without a doubt, that my wife has spoken to the king in me.  She believed in me when no one else did; she’s my biggest fan.  My desire is to pour into her as she is always pouring into me.  Ladies, never underestimate the power of believing in your husband!  When he knows that you believe in him it gives him wind beneath his wings.  Even if the world is against him, he can feel unstoppable if he knows that you believe in him and that you support him.

Most of the time, whatever I teach to men applies to women and vice-versa, but in this case I believe that we, as men, need the unyielding support of our wives more than they need ours.  Now, of course wives need the support of their husbands.  I am not saying that they don’t.  But I am saying that what we (husbands) receive from our wives, by way of belief and support, far outweighs what we do for them in like manner.  That’s why it is so devastating to a man when he has a wife who does not believe in him.  And to make matters worse, Solomon describes a wife who takes it a step further and constantly nags her husband.  This is a dangerous situation for the marriage, because before long her husband will dread coming home.  He will look for someone who speaks to the king in him and not he fool in him.

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

1.  For wives: Speak to the king in your husbands.  The more you speak to the king in him, the more he will believe it and become it.

2.  For husbands: Welcome the support of your wife and allow her to speak into your life.  She is graced by God to minister to you in ways that NO ONE ELSE CAN, OR SHOULD!

3.  For husbands and wives:  Never make your spouse dread coming home.  Do all you can to make your home a nurturing and loving environment where dreams are encouraged and believed!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation.  Your Word is awesome and it shows me how to live and enjoy life to the fullest.  I thank You for my spouse and I declare, by faith, that I will be the blessing to them that You desire for me to be.  I speak life and never death into my spouse daily.  I build them up and I never tear them down.  You grace me to minister to my spouse in ways that I only I can and only I should.  My spouse welcomes my input because I always share it in a loving and caring way.  I never make my spouse dread coming come.  Our home is a sanctuary of peace where dreams are encouraged, believed, and supported!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Protect Your Anointing

(Prov 21:10 CEV) Evil people want to do wrong, even to their friends.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Have you ever heard the saying, “If you play with fire you are going to get burned”?  Fire only knows one way to be: HOT!  It would be foolish to think that fire is going to be something else.  It’s actually similar with people.  Some believers think they can hang out with evil people and not be affected by it, but that is simply not true.  Whether we want to admit it or not, the people we hang out with DO wind up rubbing off on us.  We learned this back in chapter 13 where Solomon said, “Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces” (v.20).  In other words, both wisdom and foolishness are transferred by association.  And if that is the case, then why would you, as a Born-Again believer, willingly CHOOSE to associate with people who are programmed to do wrong?  Later on in Proverbs Solomon says, “Don’t envy evil people or desire their company” (24:1).  He is warning us from hanging around them, because he does not want what’s in them to get in us.

You know the type of people I am talking about.  In chapter two Solomon says, “They take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil.  Their actions are crooked, and their ways are wrong” (verses 14,15).  In chapter four he says, “Evil people are restless unless they’re making trouble; they can’t get a good night’s sleep unless they’ve made life miserable for somebody.  Perversity is their food and drink, violence their drug of choice” (verses 16,17).  These people are unhappy unless they are ‘stirring the pot.’  They find pleasure in making others miserable.  They get excited when they have incriminating evidence so they can spread it as gossip.  Solomon says that they can’t get a good night’s sleep unless they have negatively affected someone’s life.  In other words, when others are doing well it keeps them up at night.  They find a preserve satisfaction in knowing that they have done their part in disrupting the peace of another.

We make hundreds of choices every day.  If we think about it, our day is full of choice, after choice, after choice.  Getting out of bed in the morning is a choice – one that I sometimes don’t like to make.  We choose to brush our teeth, take a shower, what we will eat, what we will wear, what path we will take to work, what we will do when we get there, and the list can go on and on.  Obviously, some decisions are more important than others and therefore require more deliberation.  You should take more time, for example, in choosing whom to marry and connect with for the rest of your life, over what to eat for lunch today.  One of the decisions that we should place in the important category is the decision of whom we will call our friend.  It’s been said that “who you will be in five years will be influenced by the friends you choose and the books you read,” so choose both wisely.  My mother used to tell me daily, “Show me who you hang with and I will tell you who you are.”

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

1.  Your friends matter:  Show me your friends and I will show you your future.  If you get to choose the people you call “friend,” then shouldn’t you choose wisely? Choose the right friends and they will help you live the right life.

2.  Protect your anointing:  If you value what God is doing in your life, then you will protect it by refusing to connect with those who may contaminate your anointing.

3.  Select Godly mentors:  Mentoring relationships are powerful.  Mentors enable us to do much more than we can alone.  Select your mentors wisely and grant them ‘right of passage;’ giving them access to speak into your life.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this reminder this morning.  I know I am called by You.  You are both light and love and I declare that I will be the same.  I shine as light in the midst of darkness.  I flow as love in the midst of hatred and selfishness.  I seek to reach the lost daily, but I don’t connect with the wicked on a level to where their wickedness can rub off on me.  I protect what You have done and are doing in my life, but shielding myself from unrighteousness influences.  I am determined to become the man/woman You have destined, designed, and desire for me to be!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Do you Learn by Words or Wounds?

(Prov 21:11 CEV)  An ignorant fool learns by seeing others punished; a sensible person learns by being instructed.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon has already driven home the fact none of us know everything.  Flowing in that same vein, he now compares and contrasts how fools learn with how the sensible (or wise) learn.  Since we all need to learn and since our lives should be a continual learning process, it would serve us well to understand the best ways to learn.  Understanding that, before we get into today’s lesson, I want to provide a quick recap of some of the lessons we have learned thus far in this series that prepare us for this lesson:

1.  None of us is as smart as ‘all of us.’  The faster we recognize the fact that we can, and should, learn from others, the better off we will be.

2.  We all make mistakes and get off course from time to time.  Without course corrections we would stay off course and arrive at a place, at the end of our lives, that we don’t want to be.

3.  God instructs us and corrects us because He loves us.  He loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.

4.  The faster we hear, receive, and apply the instruction/correction, the faster we will be developed into the persons the Father desires for us to be.

Now let’s get into our lesson.  The Message Bible paraphrase of this verse reads: “Simpletons only learn the hard way, but the wise learn by listening.”  Do you want to be the simpleton or the wise?

1.  Simpletons wait until they see others experience harsh punishment, or until they experience it themselves, to learn:  Have you observed a group of misbehaving kids or childish adults?  You can talk to them until you are blue in the face, but once they have gone down the path of foolish activity it seems like they need to see someone get punished before they snap out of it.  As soon as one child or childish adult gets punished the others quickly calm down.  As soon as one teenager gets arrested the others ‘wake up’ and see the error of their ways.  But why should it have taken that?   Why can’t the fool simply receive and respond to the counsel of the wise?  I guess the answer is, because they are a fool!

2.  The wise respond to a simple word of instruction/correction:  Unlike the childish simpleton the wise are willing to hear and accept instruction and correction, because they know that without it they will never truly mature and develop into the person God desires for them to be.  The truly wise actually welcome instruction and correction, because they have a sincere desire to learn, grow, and develop.  Their wisdom teaches them to learn from as many people as possible and to welcome (not fight against) the instruction.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you need to decide which type of person you want to be.  Are you going to be the childish fool who has to see someone get into serious trouble before he makes a change or will you be the wise man who accepts and applies a simple word of instruction/correction?  I have been both and I can tell you that the latter is much better!  If you learn by words you won’t have to experience the pain of wounds!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for loving me enough to instruct me and correct me.  You speak to me directly by Your Spirit and Your Word and also indirectly by sending others to me.  Whether directly or indirectly, I declare, by faith, that I receive the instruction and correction You provide me, with WORDS, so that I don’t have to experience or see others experience the pain associated with WOUNDS.  Thank You for caring enough about me to see to it that I hear what I need to hear.  And I also declare that as I hear it, I won’t fight against it, but instead I will receive it, apply it, and be changed by it.  I welcome instruction and correction!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Loving and Praying for our Enemies

(Prov 21:12 BBE)  The Upright One, looking on the house of the evil-doer, lets sinners be overturned to their destruction.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon once again teaches us that those who sow bad seed will reap a bad harvest.  By this point the principle of sowing and reaping should not be a mystery to you.  All of us, good or bad, rich or poor, male or female, Black or White, Hispanic or Asian, will all reap whatever we sow.  So it stands to reason that the Father, who is the righteous judge and the Lord of the Harvest, will look down on the house of the evil-doer and allow them to reap exactly what they have sown.  I could go on about this, but I would only be beating a dead horse.  So, I feel led to take this teaching to the next level and teach you what we, as believers, should DO when dealing with unrighteous, unruly, and devious people.  To do that I could think of no better person to learn from that Jesus Himself.

In Luke 6 Jesus was being followed by a large crowd.  He broke away from the crowd and spent all night praying for direction.  The next morning He chose the 12 Apostles out of the crowd.  He then proceeded to minister to the people, healing the sick and casting out demons.  Afterwards Jesus taught a lesson (verses 20-26).  After His lesson Jesus said, “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies.  Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.  When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person” (Luke 6:27, 28).  It was as if Jesus was saying, “Ok, you guys have seen me minister to the needs of people and heard me teach principles of the Kingdom of God; but if you think you are ready for the next level, you must start by operating in the love of God.”  Jesus made it clear from the beginning that Godly love extends beyond human love.  Human love loves those that love them back.  Human love loves those that are easy to love.  God’s love, however, empowers us to extend beyond the limitations of human love and to love those that we would never love otherwise.

God’s love actually empowers and enables us to sincerely pray for those who are coming against us.  Why intercede for those that are giving us a hard time?  Because we understand the principle  of sowing and reaping and we know that they will reap a bad harvest on the bad seed sown.  If you know satan has deceived someone to operate in hatred and sow discord, then why not pray for them, because without your prayers and without your petitions before God, they will be left unprotected and they will surely reap what they have sown.  So when someone comes up against you, chances are that they don’t even know what they are doing or who (in a divine sense) they are coming up against.  Just pray for them and intercede on their behalf.  That what Jesus did when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” at His crucifixion (Luke 23:34).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that operating in God’s love is our highest calling.  In Luke 6 Jesus went on to say, “If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back?  Run-of-the-mill sinners do that.  If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal?  Garden-variety sinners do that” (Luke 6:32,33).  There will always be people who do not like you and there may even be some that are out-right against you; but do not allow their actions to get you out of love.  Love them enough to be the bigger person and actually pray for them, because at the end of the day, if they don’t change their ways God will see to it that they reap what they are sowing anyway.  But if you walk in love, God might actually reach them through you!  Now that’s the way the Father expects us to live!!!!

Closing Confession:  Father, I declare, by faith, that Your love is operating in me so strong that I am able to pray for those that give me a hard time and pronounce blessings upon those that mistreat me.  Their poison can’t stop my purpose anyway, so instead of focusing on the negative I will be the bigger person and pray for them.  Your love in me empowers me to remain consistent so that I can shine as light in the midst of darkness and love in the midst of selfishness.  I can do it and I will, BY FAITH!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Passion for God, Compassion for Man

(Prov 21:13 NLT)  Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In yesterday’s lesson I started out by teaching on the principle of sowing and reaping and I then transitioned the message over to teaching on love.  With this text I will do the same thing.  Sowing and reaping is taught all throughout the Bible.  For example, in Jesus’ model prayer He said, “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”  What is the insinuation?  Well, if we fail to forgive others, He will fail to forgive us.  Why?  Because if we sow unforgiveness we will reap just that.  If we sow mercy, people will be merciful to us; if we sow love, people will love on us; if we sow discord, we will reap an unpleasant harvest, and etc.  But there is something else in this text that begs to be highlighted and that is God’s compassion for the poor.  If you know anything about the Word you know that God has a special place in His heart for the poor and He expects His followers (not the government) who are financially blessed to use their overflow TO BE a blessing to others.  So if the Father has blessed you to the point where you are able to BE a blessing and He gives you opportunity to do just that, but you ignore the opportunity, you resist the urging of the Holy Spirit, and you refuse to BE a blessing, then you should not be surprised when you experience the same if you ever find yourself in that situation.  Further, your refusal to use your abundance TO BE a blessing may cause the favor of God to be removed from your life.  If that happens, it will only be a matter of time before your abundance turns into lack.

This boils down to the love factor.  God is love and if we are His children, then we are commanded and expected to operate in love.  John wrote: “If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar.  If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see?  The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people.  You’ve got to love both” (1st John 4:20,21).  That is about as plain as it can be.  We ought not say that we love God if we refuse love others.  Our passion for God is exemplified in our compassion for man.

Jesus is so serious about us showing compassion to the poor that He said: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory… All the nations will be gathered in His presence, and He will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats… The King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’  “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink?  Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing?  When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?’  “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!” (Mat 25:31-40).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you cannot separate passion for God from compassion for man.  As a believer we are called to walk, operate, live in, and exemplify the love of God every day.  You can’t properly serve God without serving man!

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for this revelation and I declare, by faith, that I will walk in love every day of my life.  I thank You for blessing me TO BE a blessing.  You give me the wisdom, grace, and favor to be able to walk in abundance, having more than enough to meet the needs of my household.  So when You present me with situations to BE a blessing to others I willingly and lovingly do just that.  My passion for You is exemplified in my compassion for others.  You send people my way and You then use me as a conduit of Your love, grace, peace, and kindness.  Thank You for using me for Your glory!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

A Peacemaker

(Prov 21:14 MSG)  A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person; a heartfelt present cools a hot temper.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  For the past couple of messages we have been focusing on the love of God.  We will do the same today as Solomon gives us counsel concerning how to deal with those who are upset with us.  It is unfortunate but some people will dislike us whether we did anything wrong to them or not.  Worldly wisdom tells us to fight against our enemies, to expose their weaknesses, and to destroy them if we can.  But Godly wisdom us to love them, pray for them, and to attempt to overcome their evil with good.  The method Solomon offers this morning for seeking to mend potentially volatile situations is a give our adversaries a peace offering; to give a gift in hopes of procuring or maintaining peace.  Why would we do such a thing, especially when we have done nothing wrong in the first place?  The answer is simple: to be the bigger personThe Father wants us to be unifiers and not dividers, to be menders and not destroyers, to be peacemakers and not peace-breakers.

We only have 24 hours in a day and the Father wants us to use our time, energy, and effort in the right way.  We need to be good stewards of the abilities the Lord has given us and it does no good to waste valuable time on negative efforts.  In the New Testament Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28,28).  Paul said, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves…  Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.”  And then Paul, summing it all up, says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (see Rom 12:12-18).  That’s the bottom-line.  God expects us to do all that we can to live at peace with everyone, even if that means going out of your way to make peace with someone who is upset with you; and even when you did not do anything wrong to them in the first place.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the Father expects you to walk under a higher standard.  He wants you to live above the ‘eye for an eye’ mentality.  He wants you to walk in love.  Now, I know that things like loving your enemies and blessing them that curse you are hard pills to swallow for average Christian.  However, God calls you to excellence, not average.  There are too many people that are “turned off” from God, Christianity, and the church, because of people who claim to be Christians, but fail to walk in God’s love.  Loving God and loving man are the commandments (not suggestions) of Jesus.  Allow the Love of God to wash away the resentment, bitterness and anger that your past may have embedded in your soul.  Walking in His love can heal past hurt, remove past pain, and renew you into the person God intends for you to be.  This way you can truly treat others the way God wants you to treat them and the way that you want to be treated.

If God goes out of His way to reach out to you, even when you don’t deserve it, then shouldn’t you share the same kind forgiving love with others?

Closing Confession:  Father, I understand your commandment and requirement to operate in Your love.  Your love is the greatest standard.  You expect me to be light in the midst of darkness and love and in the midst of selfishness.  I declare, by faith, that I will.  I will do all that I can to leave at peace with all men.  I will seek to represent You well, in the earth, every day of my life.  I am a walking, talking, billboard for Jesus.  When someone has an ought against me, I am the bigger person and I go out of my way to make peace.  I am a peacemaker, not a peace-breaker.  I am a mender, not a destroyer.  I am a unifier, not a divider.  And as I live this way I am able to become a conduit through which You can draw people to You (not drive them away from You) all the days of my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Judgment and Justice

(Prov 21:15 NLT)  Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Solomon’s was a sitting king at the time of this writing, so he clearly understood the importance of justice and judgment.  The word judgment causes the unrighteous to shirk, whereas it causes the righteous to get excited about receiving their impending reward.  No one understood this better than Solomon.  As Israel’s national leader he knew the nation’s history.  If you read 1st and 2nd Chronicles and 1st and 2nd Kings you will see how the nation of Israel experienced their share of ups and downs.  Whenever they had a righteous leader (a King or a Judge), the nation would prosper.  Whenever they had an unrighteous leader, the nation would suffer.  It all hinged upon the time of judgment.  It’s not that Jehovah did not judge the nation of Israel during the times of righteous leaders; it was quite the contrary.  The Lord judged the nation during the time of every leader, it’s just that when He placed the nation on the scales of justice during the reign of unrighteous leaders, the results were unpleasant for the nation.  However, when the Lord placed the nation on the scales of justice during the time of righteous leaders, the results were welcomed and pleasant for the people.  In both cases the Lord submitted the nation to the same process.  So we can see why Solomon said: “Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers.”

We no longer have Old Testament kings, but judgment still takes place.  There is the common judgment, that takes place all the time, where the Lord judges our actions and ensures that we reap whatever we sow.  If we have been sowing good seed, we reap a good harvest.  If not, we don’t.  There is no way around it.  But ultimately there will be one great Judgment Day.  Two major judgments will take place on that day.  The first one will be to check whether or not our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (see Rev 20).  Only the names of the righteous are written there and the only way to become righteous – by God’s standard – is to accept Jesus the Christ as Lord (Rom 10:9,10,13).  Paul said, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2nd Cor 5:21).  When we accept Jesus as our Lord we become righteous in Him.  It’s not that we are righteous in and of ourselves.  No!  He makes us righteous.  The Father declares us righteous through the Blood of Jesus.  The second judgment will be for our works.  The Father will judge what we did with the life that He gave us.  Paul tells us that our works will basically fall into one of six categories: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw.  Our works will be judged by fire and all those in the wood, hay, and straw categories will burn up.  Only the ones in the gold, silver, and precious stones categories will endure the fire.  Those are the works that we did that had eternal significance (see 1st Cor 3:9-15).

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

1.  You are constantly being judged now:  God will see to it that you reap whatever you sow.  So if you don’t like the harvest you are reaping, check the seed you are sowing.  This sowing and reaping process brings joy to the Godly (because we can get excited about the good seed we are sowing), but it surely terrifies evildoers (because they know all the bad things they have done).

2.  We will all experience Judgment day:  So in addition to making sure that Jesus is your Lord, you must also make the most of your limited time in the earth.  Only those things you do that fall into the gold, silver, and precious stones categories (those things that have eternal significance) will endure the fire.

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for blessing me to hear, understand, and respond to the gospel message of Jesus the Christ.  I have been made righteous in Him.  I am the righteousness of God in Christ and I know my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  What I seek to do now is to BE a blessing and to maximize my purpose and potential before I die.  I enter this day determined to do things that are of eternal significance.  Lead me Father to works that will endure the fire of Your judgment.  Use me to make a difference in someone else’ life today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

A Warning: Premature Death

(Prov 21:16 NIV)   A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead.

*** PLEASE READ:  I may not be able to send out Today’s Word for the rest of the week.  I am heading to the Dominican Republic today for a special trip.  My hometown in the Dominican Republic is going to honor my military service and I will also seek to partner with local ministries there to help the less fortunate.  I will tell you more when I get back.  If you do not receive Today’s Word will know why.  I solicit your prayers.  It is my sincere desire that God would be glorified in all that is said and done.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon warns us about making the foolish decision of intentionally straying away from God’s desired path for our lives.  In this series we have learned about the many benefits of making decisions that line up with God’s counsel.  Think about it, God Himself – the King of kings, Lord of lords, and ‘all wise one’ – lovingly and willingly made His wisdom available to us in His Word.  He inspired men to write His Words so that they would be available to us.  Furthermore, for the New Testament believer, He provided us Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit.  So in addition to having His will documented in His Word, we have His Spirit so that we could be led and directed on a personal level, on a daily basis.  The Father has gone to great lengths to ensure that we have everything we need to live the life that He intends for us to live.  But at the end of the day, our life is a grand-sum-total of our decisions.  Even though God has gone to these lengths, the sad reality is that many stray from God’s desired path for their lives because of their own lusts, wayward desires, pride, stubbornness, and foolishness.

The Hebrew words used for “path of understanding” in this text are also translated “being prudent” in other places.  This is what it comes down to: the Father expects us, as His children, to be prudent in our decision-making process because He knows that we will definitely reap (good or bad) whatever we sow and in this text Solomon points out that if we are not careful, our foolishness could lead to premature death.  This is not the first time Solomon has taught on this.  Way back in the first chapter Solomon said, “Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.  For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm” (1:30-33).  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” (v.27).  In chapter 19 he said, “Keep God’s laws and you will live longer; if you ignore them, you will die” (v.16).   These are just a few references, and in addition to these I could provide a litany of references that tell us that it is God’s desire that we will long and strong lives.  The point is, however, that if we willingly choose to ignore God’s counsel and do the things that He clearly instructs us NOT to do, then we will wind up prematurely dead and it will not be His fault.  And before I close I want to point out God’s counsel is not just all spiritual.  If you read His Word you will find out that God does promote a healthy and active lifestyle that includes a proper diet, exercise, and sufficient rest.

So what does this mean to you today? It means you ought to heed God’s counsel so you can make good decisions and take care of yourself (physically, spiritually, mentally, psychologically).  This way you will be able to live the life the Father desires for you to live and maximize your purpose and potential before you die.

Closing Confession:  Father, I want to maximize the potential and purpose You have placed down inside of me.  Therefore, I shall make Godly decisions daily; decisions that line up with Your Word.  Your Word gives me insight for living and Your Spirit leads me in the way that I should go.  I declare, by faith, that I listen and obey.  I choose to keep Your commandments.  I receive Your counsel concerning what to eat.  I get sufficient rest and sleep.  I am quick to forgive and I do not harbor bitterness or hatred in my heart.  I pray, walk in love, and commune with You daily.  I seek to be a blessing to others, I commit my ways to You, and I trust in You to bring to pass Your best in my life.  I shall live long strong!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

Are a Slave to Lusts and Addictions?

(Prov 21:17 CEV)  Heavy drinkers and others who live only for pleasure will lose all they have.

This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon warns us against overindulging in costly luxuries.  It’s interesting that a sitting king would say this, because Solomon no doubt lived a luxurious lifestyle.  However, he understood that a good portion of what he enjoyed he was able to enjoy because of the throne.  Not everyone is going to be a king, but the sad reality is that many attempt to live like one and they mismanage their finances in the process.  The New International Version of this text reads: “He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.”  Wine and oil were often used in princely banquets.  One commentator said that the price of the oil Solomon refers to here was equal to about 300 days’ wages of a field laborer.  So the obvious question is: why would someone attempt to indulge in such a costly luxury?  I believe the answer also lies in the text and that is because of the excess of alcohol and other addictive substances.

The person who gets addicted to alcohol rarely stays there.  Another translation says that these people are “addicted to thrills,” but these are not just thrill-seekers, like those who jump off of cliffs and enjoy skydiving, these are the type of thrill-seekers that like to push the limit with addictive activity.  When alcohol can no longer provide the satisfaction it once did, the addict seeks something stronger.  And many who are addicted to substances are also susceptible to other addictive activity, like gambling.  One of my childhood friends, for example, was unable to control his addictive lusts and what started out at the poker table led to gambling on sports games, the lottery, dice, pool, and just about anything he could find to place a bet on.  His lifestyle also opened the door to alcohol and drugs and before long he started to sell drugs in order to finance his addictions.  This is a guy who made millions (and that is no exaggeration) of dollars during his time as a drug dealer and today he does not have a penny to show for it.  Why?  Because, as Solomon states, his addictive lusts led to poverty.

Please don’t misunderstand the lesson here.  The Father not only wants us to have life in Christ, but He surely wants us to enjoy life in Him (John 10:10).  However, the Father does not want us, as His children, to be addicted to (or slave) to anything.  The addict is a slave to his addiction, he has no control over it, the addiction rules his life, and over the process of time it surely ruins it.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the Father does not you to be slave to anything.  He wants you to rule over your emotions, not allowing your emotions to rule over you.  He wants you to have control of your lusts and desires, not allowing them to take you down paths that lead to destruction.  Here’s the bottom-line: we all have lusts, but when we live the way the Father wants us to live we are able to develop and nurture Godly desires and keep the ungodly ones in check.  I will close with the words of Paul: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Gal 5:16).

Closing Confession:  Father, I thank You for Your Word and for exposing to me the dangers of succumbing to illicit and lustful desires.  I declare, by faith, that I walk in the Spirit and I do not fulfill the lustful desires of the sinful nature.  I develop and nurture healthy, productive, and Godly desires.  My heart wants to please You every day of my life.  My Godly desires turn into Godly actions and I live a life that is pleasing to You every day and in every way.  And while I am living my life from the inside out, I am not a slave to or addicted to anything.  I am completely, totally, and divinely free IN YOU and I am able to manager my finances in such a way that brings glory to Your name.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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