Proverbs Chapter 6

by Rick

(6:1-3) Count the Cost

(Prov 6:1-3 GNB) 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.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Today we get to a new chapter and Solomon has some pretty interesting words for us.  I will admit, I had to do a bit more research this morning than I normally do.  This was a strange passage to me at first, but then after reading what some of the scholars had to say, and after praying (of course), I have a better understanding.

Solomon was an astute businessman.  He ran a nation with a multi-billion dollar surplus.  I am sure that he could see a bad deal a mile off.  During his time the Phoenicians seemed to have discovered the value of credit.  Now, this is not credit as it was used prior to this, which was relatively fair.  But this was credit with unusual interest.  This caused several people to be locked into bad deals.  In this passage Solomon warned his readers against becoming a surety for someone who was locked in one of these bad deals.  A surety is a person who agrees to be responsible for the debt or obligation of another.  The act of becoming a surety is also called a guarantee.  So in other words, Solomon warned against putting up a guarantee, with your own money, for someone who was in a bad deal.  The point is that if this is a deal you would have never entered into yourself, then why entangle yourself in it?  Now, let me be clear, Solomon is NOT teaching us against generosity, but rather against overextending our financial resources and acting irresponsibly.  It is one thing to have compassion for someone else, but quite another to commit your family and your income to their mistake.  God wants us to help our friends and the needy, but he does not promise to cover the costs of every unwise commitment we make.  This is a warning against making poor decisions and not thinking something through.

This reminds me of something that Jesus taught in Luke chapter 14 about counting the cost of an endeavor BEFORE entering into it.  He said, “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it?  If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish.  Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’” (28-30).  Solomon tells us that if we allow our words to trap us into something that we did not completely think through that the best thing to do is to swallow our pride, admit our mistake, and attempt to get out of the deal.

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

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

2.  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.

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

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

5.  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!

Confession for this day:  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 counsel.  I am a blessing to others and I give to those in need.  However, I am led in my giving.  I don’t overextend myself and I don’t endanger my family by making poor decisions.  You lead me in the area of my finances and in every area of my life.  I pray, I think things through, I count the cost, and I make sound decisions – BY FAITH!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(6:4,5) You cannot Grow without Changing

(Prov 6:4,5 MSG) Don’t procrastinate — there’s no time to lose.  Run like a deer from the hunter, fly like a bird from the trapper!

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In our last message we learned about the danger of becoming a surety – someone who guarantees the debt or obligation of another – for someone who is locked in a bad deal.  Moreover, the true warning was against making a poor decision; against not counting the cost.  Solomon told us that if we allow our words to trap us into something 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.  This morning he tells us how soon we should attempt to do it – As Soon As Possible (ASAP).

Solomon’s point is that if we know that we need to do something, then we just need to do it.  When we are impressed by God to do something we should have a sense of urgency in getting it done.  Our text clearly tells us NOT to procrastinate.  To procrastinate means: to delay what needs to be done; to defer to a future time; to put off intentionally and habitually.  The danger here is the word habitually.  If you are not careful you can get into a routine of procrastination.  When you do, then the uncompleted tasks seem to linger above your head, becoming a constant source of frustration and aggravation.  The best thing to do when you know something needs to be done is simply to do it.  Another translation of verse four says, “Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids.”  In other words, don’t even go to sleep until it is done.  Solomon knows that if you put it off for even one day, then the chances of putting it off further greatly increase.

To give us a clear and vivid picture of the urgency that we should have when doing something that we know God wants us to get done, Solomon paints a picture of a deer running from a hunter or a bird flying from a trapper.  These animals are running for their lives.  Now, you may be thinking, “Rick, its not that serious.  We were just talking about money – a bad deal.”  But the problem is that if you develop a tendency to procrastinate in any area, then you might soon become a procrastinator.  It is too easy to put something off.  Making the decision to overcome procrastination basically comes down to making the decision to change.  But herein lies another challenge.  Many people resist change like the plague.  They want to hold on to the known, the comfortable, the familiar.  The problem is that for God to get us to where we need to be, as opposed to where we currently are, it requires change.  Dr. O.C. Jones, a mentor of one of my former Pastors, once said, “Life is change.  Growth is optional.”  His point was that life is about growing, about evolving, about becoming the person – over time – that God desires for you to be.  But you cannot grow without changing.  So if you resist the change, you are actually resisting the growth.  Hence, “Growth is optional.”

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

1.  Never put off for tomorrow what God prompts you to do today.

2.  Growth requires change.  If you never change you never grow.

3.  You cannot change without changing.  Or, in other words, change is not a change until you change!

4.  Run like a deer, fly like a bird whenever God prompts you to change.  Make swift and accurate changes and become the person God desires for you to be – right now!

Confession for this day:  Father, I thank You for speaking to me clearly every day.  As You lead, I follow and I declare that I follow quickly.  I don’t fight change, I embrace it.  I know that I must change to grow and I am committed to growing into the person that You desire for me to be.  I make swift and accurate changes and I experience Your best in my life every day.  I let go to lay hold!  I release to receive.  And I do it by faith!  I In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(6:6) Learn from the Ant

(Prov 6:6 KJV)  Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In our last message we learned that we should not procrastinate.  Solomon told us that if we ever find ourselves – like the person that became a surety for someone in a bad deal – in a bad situation, that we need to get out as soon as possible.  Solomon was trying to get us to understand that in addition to making the mistake of guaranteeing the wrong person in the first place, that we would compound the problem by being too lazy to deal with it quickly.  He said, “Don’t procrastinate — there’s no time to lose.  Run like a deer from the hunter, fly like a bird from the trapper!”  The sense of urgency is clear.  And he now tells this same person, the person at brink of being too lazy to get out of a bad situation, to consider the ant.  Let’s break down this verse:

Go to the ant, thou sluggard:  Let the ways of the ant become a lesson for us all.  If reading the Bible were not enough, if it’s teaching is not clear enough, Solomon tells the lazy to learn from the diligence of an ant.

Consider her ways:  Ants are pretty remarkable creatures.  They can carry items several times their weight.  They have a tireless work ethic.  They will climb up trees, over rocks, into barns, cellars, homes, places high and low and everywhere in between, all in search of food.  When they find it they enjoy the portion they need for their “today,” but they also have the foresight to store up for their “tomorrow.”  They understand the power of delayed gratification.  Furthermore, they build secure shelters to store their food and to protect themselves from the weather.  They also take care of their young and train them to be productive members of the colony.

And be wise:  Solomon urges the lazy to learn from the ant’s wisdom.  There are lots of life-lessons we can learn from this little creature; especially today, in our television watching, latte sipping, 40hr. workweek, can’t break a nail society.  If we are not careful, we can raise a generation of lazy children.  Now, I am not an advocate of child labor, but I can say that I learned a lot when I worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, during the summer for uncle when I was only 14 years old.  I come from an immigrant family and I learned early the value of hard work, of saving for tomorrow, of diligence and dedication, and of the gratification that comes from doing your part to help your family.  These are lessons that have served me well as a soldier, father, husband, citizen, and especially as a believer.  I am convinced that too many believers live their lives as though God is supposed to do everything for them.  No.  God, through Solomon, tells us to learn from the ant this morning.  They work, they are diligent, they do their part and they enjoy their reward.  Believe me, I am convinced that I am who I am and where I am by the grace of God, but I also know too much about God and His Word to think that God did it all.

So what does this mean to you today? I guess Paul said it best when he said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me” (1st Cor 15:10).  Here we see that it is not all us, but it is also not all God.  God’s Grace + Our Work = Success! So don’t be lazy, don’t procrastinate, don’t blame God for everything you get yourself into, and learn to do your part in your walk with God.

Confession for this day:  Father, I thank You for teaching me in ways that I can understand.  I can understand the ant and I learn from their diligence, dedication, determination, and foresight.  I declare, by faith, that I do my part in my walk with You.  I work hard, I overcome procrastination and laziness, I put my hands to do all that You lead me to do, and I declare that I experience Your best for my life RIGHT NOW!  I am a blessed man (or woman) and everything I do prospers!  And that is the point – I am the one that has to DO IT!  I do it all BY FAITH!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(6:7,8) Motivated from the Inside-Out!

(Prov 6:7,8 NLT) Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In our last message Solomon told us that we should learn from the ant.  We learned that these tiny creatures can carry several times their weight, they have a tireless work ethic, they have the foresight to store up for tomorrow, and they understand the power of delayed gratification.  Solomon continues to flow in this same vein as he explains to us that ants have no prince or governor to make them work.  Another translation says, “It has no commander, no overseer or ruler.”  No one is standing over the ant to ensure their daily work gets done.  They don’t require a taskmaster and yet, they still store up for their times of lack.  They are not glued to a Microsoft Outlook calendar, they don’t tote around a Franklin Covey organizer, they don’t require meeting after meeting to keep them on task, they don’t endure the process of reporting to superiors to ensure progress is being made, and yet, without all these failsafes, they still get it done.  They have something inside of them that drives them to work and to work diligently.

Theologian Kendall Gill, when commenting on this verse said, “None to guide and direct her what to do; nor any to overlook her, to see that she does aright, or to oblige her to work, and keep her to it; nor any to call her to an account, and correct her for doing amiss; and nevertheless diligent and industrious, doing everything of herself, by the instinct of nature, readily and willingly: and yet how slothful are men; who, besides the dictates of nature, reason, and conscience, have parents, masters, ministers, and magistrates, to guide, direct, exhort, instruct, and enforce!

Humans are the most educated of all creatures.  We go to school for year after year and then, after completing what are commonly referred to as ‘school years,’ many of us enter into career fields that require life-long learning.  The ant never went to school, but Solomon is sending us to school to study her.  He wants us to learn from her ways, so that we can overcome laziness, lethargy, and procrastination.  Tomorrow we will see why he is so big on this.  We will learn that laziness leads to poverty.

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

1.  Be self-motivated:  When David was in a terrible situation and he had no one to encourage him, he “Encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1st Sam 30:6).  Learn how to tap into the Joy of the Lord, which is your strength  (Neh 8:10).  If you are a Born-Again believer, then God is with you 24 hours a day.  He should be all the motivation you need to get done all that you need to get done every day.  Walk with Him and allow Him to lead you as you diligently work daily!

2.  Remember you represent God:  Paul said, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1st Cor 10:31).  We are walking/talking billboards for Christ.  We are called to represent Him daily.  But when you are lazy, slothful, and a procrastinator, you are sending the wrong message about God and His people.  Instead of drawing others to God you might actually be a stumbling block.  Remember this as you enter this day.  You may be the only Bible someone reads.

3.  Remember the law of sowing and reaping:  Ants work hard in one season so they can enjoy the fruit of their labor in another season.  Everything in the Kingdom of God works by sowing and reaping.  No farmer plants today with an expectation to reap today.  There will be a period of time between sowing and reaping.  So if you want to always reap the right harvest, then you have to always sow the right seed.  Overcome laziness and be blessed!

Confession for this day:  Father, I declare, by faith, that I am motivated from the inside out!  I thank You for the many mentors, teachers, instructors, preachers, Pastors, family and friends that You have blessed me to learn from.  But I declare that I have the internal motivation to get things done daily.  I overcome laziness, slothfulness, and procrastination.  You provide me with all the motivation I need!  In enter this day with an unwavering determination to glorify You in all that I do!  Use me Lord as an example of Your righteousness in the earth!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Hope and Reconciliation

(Gal 3:28 MSG) In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.

This morning I pause from the current series to share a special message.  This morning I think about my mother.  She came to the United States in 1970.  She came with high hopes her head and a dream in her heart.  She wanted so dearly to provide a better life for her mother, her brothers and sisters, and her future family.  Her journey took her to the Ghettos of New York City and she settled in East New York, Brooklyn.  It was there that she came face-to-face with the ugly head of racism.  She was in the lowest class of the lowest class.  Not only was she a non-English speaking foreigner, but she was in the middle of a violence-filled and gang controlled area.  The only Whites in the neighborhood where those that came to teach in the schools and to patrol the area from the protection of their police cars.  She did not know it, but she had come to a country that was still attempting to overcome racial injustice.

Just seven short years prior to my mother’s arrival Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. had been arrested in Birmingham Alabama for marching through the streets on Good Friday.  He wrote a letter from that jail cell that shows the grace and power of God upon His servant.  The Lord, through Rev. King, said things like, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider within its bounds… We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed… Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait!”  But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim… when you see tears welling up in the eyes of your six year old daughter as she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children… This wait has almost always meant, “Never”… We must come to see, with one of our own distinguished jurists, that justice too long delayed is justice denied.”  These are just a few excerpts.  For this document, written from jail, without any external references or helps.  It is an example of the power of God working through a man.  Rev. King would be shot and killed some five years later, but the legacy of what God stirred up in this nation through him is still working.

When I was coming of age in the streets of Brooklyn in the 70s and 80s racism was a way of life.  If a Caucasian person came in my neighborhood they would be beaten close to death and the same was true if one of us – any minority – ever made the mistake of crossing into a White neighborhood.  It wasn’t many years ago that my elementary school teachers quoted to us (little minority children) the statistics of how many of us would wind up in jail, or on drugs, or dead before the age of 18.  My mother did not know it, but her journey towards a new life put me right-smack-dab in the middle of a racial battle.  When I was 15 I started working at the Lindenwood Diner/Restaurant in Howard Beach, Queens.  While working there I overcame my own prejudices against Whites and I befriended an Italian kid around my age named John “Johnny” Lester.  A few weeks into my friendship with Johnny it seemed like all hell broke loose.  Johnny was the leader of a group of Italians who chased three Blacks across a highway in Queens.  One of the young Black men was killed and it sparked racial riots all across the country.  When the news cameras came to the restaurant I had to hide.  I knew that if I had come across the television as a friend of John Lester that I would most certainly be killed when I got back to Brooklyn.  It was then and there that I was convinced that racism was not only wrong, but also ridiculous.

By the grace of God I made it out of Brooklyn, I did not become a statistic, and was Born-Again in Christ.  But this is where the story gets worse and not better.  For it was in Christ, after being Born-Again, that I felt the strongest sting of racism.  It was in what many in the South refer to as, “Black Churches” that I was shunned, ostracized, and made to feel unwelcome.  I felt as though I had overcome racism in Brooklyn and the last place I thought I would have to deal with it would be in the church.  The sad reality is that Rev. King wrote his letter to White Clergymen; to fellow preachers of the Gospel.  And even then, it was not well received.  It hurts my heart to say it, but 11am on Sunday morning, is the most segregated hour in the United States of America.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that on today, on the day that a great portion of Rev. King’s dream is coming to pass with the inauguration of President Barak Obama, it saddens my heart to say that we still have a long way to go; both in the church and in the world.  But that does not mean that we cannot and will not make it.  I long for the day where the Black Church and the White Church will be One Church.  I am neither Black nor White and I am convinced that I should not have to choose one or the other.  Don’t get me wrong, I am proud to be Hispanic, but that does not mean that I have to worship somewhere where they only speak Spanish.  I am in Christ and I have the freedom, the liberty, and the right to worship as I am led.

So, as President Barak Obama takes office today he represents so many things on so many levels.  If the message IN the man is moving, then the message BEHIND the man is overwhelming.  What he represents is change, progress, and a victory over ignorance, hatred, and something so ugly that it cannot be explained well in words. If he could be President, then I know that we can come together as a church.  As you celebrate our new President and as you pray for God to use him mightily to bring about righteous change, please pray for racial reconciliation in the hearts and minds of people worldwide.

Prayer:  Father, as President Barak Obama takes office today I pray that You bless and empower him.  He professes Christ with his lips and that makes him my brother in You.  Holy Spirit, I ask You to lead, guide, and direct him as he seeks to lead, guide, and direct us.  I pray for You to manifest Your glory mightily throughout the entire cabinet, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and throughout every facet of our government.  And then Father, I ask You to move upon the hearts of believers.  Rise up strong in Pastors all over the US and the world, so that they can preach a message of hope and reconciliation.  I bind racism in the church.  We have too much in common to be uncommon.  Bring us together under the Blood of Jesus.  This is my prayer.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(6:9-11) You have a Part in Your Provision

(Prov 6:9-11 NLT) 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.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In our last message Solomon continued to glean life-lessons from the ant.  He said, “Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.”  From this we learn that we should be self-motivated, hard working, representatives for God every day.  As we continue in this passage Solomon now gives us a stern warning.  He makes a connection between laziness and poverty.  He makes it clear that if you are too lazy to work, then 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).

I know that it is easy for some to say that God will provide and that God is their source; and He is and should be, but this is not an excuse for laziness.  God will not overlook laziness and bless you with abundance.  But rather, God will reward what you put your hands to DO.  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!

Every once in while people get into discussions about whether or not God wants us poor.  Some people have been programmed to think that poverty is a blessing.  Well, if anyone thinks that poverty is a blessing, then they have: 1) never been poor, and 2) never read the Bible. I am not saying that every believer is supposed to be a billionaire, but what I am saying is that God is against all the things that make you poor and He is for all the things that promote a strong, stable, and secure life.  Let me explain.  God is against laziness, idleness, dishonesty, deceit, stealing, addictions, haphazardness, lack of focus, and etc.  The people that practice these things are prone to wind up in poverty.  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 that practice these things, that live the way God wants them to live, that faithfully honor Him with their finances, 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? I could bring out lots of things, but I am only gong to focus on one thing: you have a part in your provision.  Don’t blame God for everything.  Take an honest look at your financial situation and at the overall condition of your life and know that God was not solely responsible for it.  Whether it is 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 honor or dishonor what you DO!  So make a determination, right now, to do all the things that promote a good and Godly life.  If you do your part, God will do His!

Confession for this day:  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, purpose-driven, I walk in integrity, love, joy, and peace.  I am free from all 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!

(6:12-14) Darkness has no power over LIGHT!

(Prov 6:12-14)  Troublemakers and villains, who go about with corrupt mouths, who wink maliciously with their eyes, signal with their feet and motion with their fingers, who plot evil with deceit in their hearts— they always stir up dissension.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In our last message Solomon warned us against being lazy.  He explained how laziness opens the door to poverty and lack.

For the next few verses (12-15) Solomon shifts gears to tell us about the characteristics of a man who doesn’t walk with God.  In other words, he is showing us what we should NOT look like.  The American Standard Version, and quite a few other translations of verse 12 call this man worthless. The ASV says, “A worthless person, a man of iniquity, Is he that walketh with a perverse mouth.”  The Darby translation is actually closer to the original Hebrew when it calls him a man of Belial.  The Darby version says, “A man of Belial, a wicked person, is he that goeth about with a perverse mouth.”  Belial is a name of the devil.  Solomon is talking about someone who is walking with the enemy and how his entire being signifies it.

I chose the Today’s New International Version (TNIV) to share as our main translation, because it speaks to us in language the average person can understand.  It tells us that that these people are troublemakers, villains who speak with corrupt mouths, and whose eyes, feet, and fingers all express the deceit that is in their heart.  Their constant aim is to stir up dissension.  Their focus is to tear down and not build up, to cause division where there is unity, strife where there is peace, hatred where there is love, and failure where there is progress. They unashamedly call wrong right and they walk strong in their convictions.  Have you ever met anyone like this?  This is not he person who is deceived and does not know it.  This is the person who knows what they are doing and they do it with passion.  They are not happy when others are.  They get a sense of enjoyment out of rousing up mess.

Now, you may be thinking, “No, I don’t like to think about that.  There are not people out here purposefully doing these things.”  But don’t be deceived.  Just as sure as there is a God there is a devil.  Just as sure as there is a heaven, there is a hell.  Just as sure as there are people serving Jehovah, there are people serving satan.  You part is to simply be aware of their existence and to protect yourself from their influence.  Just as they are wholly committed to their cause, you must be to yours.  Just as they are agents of strife, you must be an agent of peace.  Just as they seek to tear down, you must be there to build up.  And know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are on the losing side.  Yes, there is a constant battle between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God, but guess what?  I read the end of the book – and WE WIN! Not only do we WIN then, but we HAVE WON now – BY FAITH!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that their fight might be strong, but your fight must be stronger.  Their fight might be long, but your fight must be longer!  John said it best when he said, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1st John 4:4).  So don’t be afraid, don’t be discouraged, and don’t allow yourself to be negatively influenced.  You overcome, because the greater one is IN you.  Darkness has no power over LIGHT!

Confession for this day:  Father, I thank You for teaching me, so that I am not ignorant of what may come my way.  I know there are people in the world whose purpose is to do evil, but my purpose is to do good!  I am an instrument of Godly change!  Use me for Your glory, Lord!  Use me to make a difference today.  I enter this day to build up, mend, heal, love, speak life, and to release Your peace wherever I go.  Greater is HE that is in me, than he that is in the world.  Darkness has no power over LIGHT!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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

(6:15) Loving the hard to Love

(Prov 6:15 TNIV) Therefore disaster will overtake them in an instant; they will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In our last message Solomon told us about men and women who have literally given themselves over the enemy.  He explained how these people are troublemakers, villains who speak with corrupt mouths, and whose eyes, feet, and fingers all express the deceit that is in their heart.  They go around stirring up mess and they know what they are doing.  We should not be concerned about attempting to repay evil with evil.  If anything, we should pray for them, that their eyes would be opened to the light of God.  Because if not, our text says that they will eventually reap their reward.  Disaster will overtake them in an instant and they will suddenly be destroyed.  This destruction will come quick and it will be without remedy.

I know sometimes you see ungodly, unrighteous, and down-right-evil people seemingly prosper.  They go out of their way to do wrong.  They tear people down with their lips.  They willingly stir up strife.  When we encounter people like this, we should not take it upon ourselves – unless we are in a position of authority over them where we can make a correction – to play judge and jury.  If God opens a door for us to share His love with them, then yes, we are to share it.  We are to share both His love and His light with everyone we can, but just don’t attempt to repay them and eye for an eye.  If you do, you are crossing over into God’s lane.  God is the Lord of Harvest and He makes sure that everyone of us reaps according to what we have sown.

So what does this mean to you today? To answer this question I will share with you two passages from Paul’s letters to the churches.

The first comes from Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, where he said, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (6:7-9).  We learn two things from this.  First of all, we learn that we ought not be overly concerned about the reward of the wicked.  If they continue to sow to please their sinful nature, they will reap destruction.  If anything, we should pray for them.  Secondly, we learn that we should not get weary in doing good.  Sometimes it might seem like we are not reaping what we sow, but don’t give up.  The Bible says that in the proper time, if we don’t give up, we will reap our harvest.

The second passage comes from Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, where he said, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my 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.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:17-21).  As much as we would sometimes like to repay evil with evil, our part is to walk in love, forgiveness, and mercy.

Confession for this day:  Father, I declare that my heart is right towards the ungodly this morning.  I am not overtaken by their evil and I am not so affected by them that I want to repay evil with evil.  I know that You are the Lord of the Harvest and that You will cause them to reap what they have sown.  I pray that Your love in me be so strong that I be able to love them without limits.  I stand in the gap for them.  I intercede on their behalf.  I ask You to use me to be the light and love they need to see, to surrender their lives to You.  Use me Father, as an instrument of Your grace, peace, love, and mercy!  I don’t just love those that love me.  I love the hard to love, because I love with Your unfailing love!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(6:16) The Seven Things the Lord Hates

(Prov 6:16 KJV) These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In our last message Solomon told us that those who do evil, or more specifically the man of Belial – those who walk in accordance with the ways of satan – will eventually reap their reward; sooner or later destruction will overtake them.  And now, Solomon goes on to further explain why Jehovah withholds His blessing from flowing in the lives of people who live like this.  It is not that He hates the sinner, but He does clearly hate the sin.  He actually loves the sinner and commands us to do the same, but that does not mean that He will overlook sin and bless mess.

The list of things that God hates that Solomon gives us here in this passage is well known.  I have heard this list referred to as: the seven deadly sins, the seven worse sins, or simply, “Seven,” as the title of a movie made about the list.  The Bible actually mentions six things that God hates and then appends a seventh.  There are two schools of thought about how the seventh fits.  Some scholars say that the seventh is simply an addition to the six and that all seven are equally hated by God.  Others say that the seventh is actually worse, in a different category.  Most translations don’t support this position, but some, like the Message Bible, lend themselves to it.  The Message Bible translates this verse, “Here are six things GOD hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion.”  Let’s take a quick look at the list:

  1. A proud look.
  2. A lying tongue.
  3. Hands that shed innocent blood.
  4. A heart that devises wicked imaginations.
  5. Feet that are swift in running to mischief.
  6. A false witness that speaks lies.
  7. He that sows discord among the brethren.

Whether the seventh is more hated by God or not, the fact remains that these are seven things the Lord clearly hates.  Yes, I keep saying, “hates,” because that is what the Bible says.  I know that Jehovah is a loving, caring, and sharing heavenly Father, but that does not mean that He does not hate.  You can walk in love and still hate.  He loves what is right and hates what is wrong.  These things, this list of actions, are a manifestation of the devil’s influence over people.  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and to deliver us from the very power of sin.  John explained it well when he said, “When people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning.  But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.  Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them.  So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God” (1st John 3:8,9).

So what does this mean to you today? Simply put, it means that you should love what God loves and hate what He hates.  You can’t FULLY walk with God and still love to produce works of the enemy.  So love sinners, but hate sin.  Do all you can to help people come into the Kingdom of God, so they can be delivered from the power of sin.  And you, as a child of God, don’t practice sin.  Abstain from even the appearance of evil (1st Thes 5:22).

Confession for this day:  Father, I thank You for loving me, even while I was under the influence of satan.  I thank You for delivering me out of the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of Your Dear Son.  I declare, by faith, that I walk in the newness of life.  I have been delivered from the power of sin and sin does not rule over me.  I overcome evil with good.  I walk in love.  I love what You love.  I hate what You hate.  And I become an instrument in Your hands to – like Jesus – destroy the works of the devil, in the earth.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(6:17) The Seven Sins: #1 A Proud Look

(Prov 6:17 KJV) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In our last message Solomon told us about the seven things that God hates.  Over the next few days we will look at each one individually.

The first sin listed is pride – a proud look.  This proud look comes from a person whose heart is filled with an excessively high opinion of themselves.  They see themselves above others, they look down at others with piercing eyes, and their words carry a condescending tone.  Young people today say that people who operate in pride are, “Full of themselves.”  That is an accurate description.  It is fittingly listed as the first sin here in Proverbs, because it was the first sin in heaven (by satan and the angels) and the first sin committed by man (Eve).

Isaiah tells us what happened to satan, saying, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground, which did destroy nations!  For you have said in your heart, “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 14:12-14).  What do you see in those verses?  Satan had an excessively high opinion of himself and it got him in trouble.  He was kicked out of heaven, because of pride.  He then used pride as a tactic against Eve.  As a matter of fact, satan has three primary tactics and pride is one of them.  Satan’s “big three” are: 1) the lust of the flesh, 2) the lust of the eyes, and 3) the pride of life (1st John 2:16).  Solomon himself, the author of our primary passage, went on to say, “Pride goes before destruction… ” (Proverbs 16:18).  That is an accurate depiction.  When pride comes, destruction will soon follow.  In Christ the quickest way up (promotion) is down (humility); and the quickest way down (failure) is up (pride).

I am a fairly confident person, but at the same time I make every effort to remain humble.  I have heard it said that humility is controlled confidence.  I like that definition, because our confidence must be controlled.  There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance and even the best of us cross that line from time to time.  That is why it is important to constantly receive nourishment, guidance, and direction from the Word of God; in order that we might receive the correction we need to stay on the proper course.  I call pride the silent killer in the church, because it can often go unnoticed by others.  But believe me, it does not go unnoticed by God.  You may be able to fool some people, but God looks at the heart.  He sees the true motives behind what you do.  So keep your motives pure.  Come to God with clean hands and a clean heart.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should appreciate everything the Lord enables you to do, but you don’t have to go around telling everyone about it.  If you are good at what you do, allow others to say how good you are.  When Jesus was questioned by the high priest on whether or not he was the Son of God, Jesus answered, “That is what you say” (Matthew 26:63,64).  We should follow Jesus’ example.  If you are truly a talented and hard worker, then continue to be faithful, God will ensure you get exalted.  I believe it is fitting to close with the words of Peter this morning.  He said, “Be humble in the presence of God’s mighty power, and he will honor you when the time comes” (1st Peter 5:6).

Confession for today:  Father, thank You for correcting me when I need it.  I declare, by faith, that I have an ear to hear what You are saying to me.  You tell me when I am wrong and I make swift and accurate changes to get back on course.  I walk in love and humility daily.  I allow my work to speak for itself and I know You will open doors for me that no man can close.  I remain humble before Your mighty power and You will exalt me, in due season!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

(6:17) The Seven Sins: #2 A Lying Tongue

(Prov 6:17 KJV) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God,” by looking at the second sin listed – a lying tongue.  I would venture to say that most people don’t think their words are all that important.  They think they can lie here and there and still walk in God’s best.  But these people don’t really understand the Word.  Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.”  This is a quote from Matthew 12.  In Luke 6 Jesus plainly said, “Your words show what is in your heart” (Luke 6:45).  You and are your words are one.  Your words flow out of the abundance of your heart.  If you constantly speak lies, then it is an indication that your heart is NOT filled with the truth.  And one day you we will all be held accountable for EVERY word that we have spoken.  In Matthew 12 Jesus went on to say, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Mat 12:35-37).  Please take a moment to allow that to sink in.  We will be either justified or condemned by the words that we speak.  Why?  Because God knows that twisted words only come from twisted people.

People whose words (audio) don’t match their actions (video) are people of flawed character.  These people lack integrity.  Let me explain.  The word integrity comes from the word “integrated” or “integrate.”  You, like God, are a tri-partite being; meaning that there are three parts of you.  You are a spirit, you possess a soul, and you live in a body.  If your spirit desires one thing, but your soul another, and yet your body is pulling you in a third direction, then you are not fully integrated.  This inward struggle will eventually lead to a conflict and hence, a violation of your integrity.  If you can learn to control your tongue then you will literally learn to control your life, because what comes out of your tongue is an outward representation of what is going on inside of you.  Believers who lie are people who are losing the battle on the inside.  The Holy Spirit tells them to speak the truth, but their soul leads them to speak a lie.  This is a dangerous thing, because lies don’t come from God.  God is a God of truth and there is no lie in Him.

In John chapter 8 Jesus had a pretty interesting conversation with a group of Jews that came up against him.  They were supposedly waiting for the Messiah, but He was standing right in front of them.  They devised a plan to kill Jesus and in their minds they were doing this for God.  They were deceived and not walking with God at all.  Jesus plainly and boldly told them: “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here.  I have not come on my own; but he sent me.  Why is my language not clear to you?  Because you are unable to hear what I say.  You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.  He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:42-44).  Wow!  That is strong language, but it is the truth.  The devil is a liar and the father of lies.  Lying is his native tongue.

So what does this mean to you today? It simply means that bitter water and sweet water cannot come from the same well (see James 3:10,11).  So listen to your inner witness, follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, speak the truth in love, and you will be the person of integrity – fully integrated – that God desires for you to be.

Confession for today:  Father, thank You for teaching me how much my words matter.  I declare, by faith, that I say what I mean and I mean what I say.  I choose my words wisely.  I am a person of integrity because I am fully integrated.  My spirit, soul, and body are aligned.  I speak the truth in love.  I resist every temptation to lie and I walk upright before You and man.  I am an example of righteousness, truth, and virtue all the days of my life.  I stand out from the darkness of the world, because I refuse to walk in unrighteousness.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(6:17) The Seven Sins: #3 Hands that shed Innocent Blood

(Prov 6:17 KJV) A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God,” by looking at the third sin listed – hands that shed innocent blood.  This is an interesting topic and one that starts many spirited debates.  God created life and we are to honor it.  I believe most people are familiar with the original 10 commandments and the one that relates to this message where God said, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex 20:13).  I pulled this reference from the King James Version of the Bible, because it is the reference most people use when quoting this scripture.  However, the problem is that the word “kill” is not the proper translation for the Hebrew word used.  If God were against killing, in general, then He would be a hypocrite.  For God Himself took the lives of several people in the Old Testament.  And if you use the word, “kill,” in general terms, then it would include animals.  Well, not only did God instruct His people on what animals were good for food, but He also required them to sacrifice animals as part of worship to Him.  So, to say that God is against killing, altogether, is not a true statement.

I have many different translations of the Bible on my computer, so I decided to take a look at how many of the other translations use “murder” instead of “kill” in Exodus 20:13.  I ran a quick count and counted 12 different translations that did; and I am sure there are more.  Jesus Himself, in the New Testament, when referring to this commandment said, “Thou shalt do no murder” (Mat 19:18).  And in that case, even the King James Version uses, “murder” and not “kill.”  It is clear to me that God is against murder, not killing.  The difference lies in the words used by Solomon in this text, “Hands that shed innocent blood.”  A murderer is someone who took an innocent life.  The Old Testament is riddled with references to what is right and wrong when it comes to taking someone’s life.  Two interesting passages you might want to read about this are Numbers 35:9-34 and Deuteronomy 19:1-13.  In these passages it talks about those who killed someone by mistake and how they should be handled differently that those who flat out murder.

One last point I will bring out about this is about order.  God supported armies, expects order, sets people in authority, and moves through government.  There are all sorts of scriptures that I can refer to about this.  God is a God of order and we are to submit to and support those in authority.  Now, what do you think would happen if we misunderstood Exodus 20:13 to mean that we could not kill at all?  What do you think would happen if there were no police officers?  Or no military?  The devil would be running roughshod over the entire planet.  It’s not that we are to support death, but we are to support life.  We ought to honor life too much to allow those that shed innocent blood to go unpunished. How many lives are saved when a police officer takes the life of a person that was on a killing-spree?  How many lives are saved when a solider in Iraq or Afghanistan stops a terrorist from blowing themselves up in the middle of a crowd?  This is not innocent blood, these are people whose blood has been tainted by the enemy.

So what does this mean to you today? I say it means that you (and I) should pray.  Pray for peace in the world, for the destruction of terrorist networks, for the capture of those that want to shed innocent blood, and for those that have the legal right to bring these people to justice.  Pray for the authorities back home and for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and civilians deployed in this Global War on Terrorism.

Prayer:  Father, I stand in the gap for our nation.  I pray that you move through the President, Congress, state and city officials, authorities, and all those You need to move through so that we can have peace within our borders and abroad.  I pray for all those that protect us.  For the local authorities and for the service men and women deployed in harms way.  Protect them as they seek to protect us from those that seek to shed innocent blood.  I come up against terror and terrorism.  I pray that You expose the plans they make in the dark and that You bring them to light.  Help us to bring these people to justice!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

(6:18) The Seven Sins: #4 A heart that devises wicked imaginations

(Prov 6:18 KJV) An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God,” by looking at the fourth sin listed – a heart that devises wicked imaginations.  To understand why God hates the heart of a person that devises wicked imaginations, we must first understand what is meant by heart.  Your heart is your inner man, your inner person, your true self.  When God examines us, he does not look at our outward man – our physical appearance, strength (or lack thereof), agility, etc. – He looks at the heart (1st Sam 16:7).  He examines us from the inside out.  He looks past the façade we show to others and He looks at our true nature, at the content of our character, at the motives behind what we do.

Remember, its not that God hates the sinner, He hates the sin.  He hates the practice of the person who perverts the power that He put down in them.  God gave us an imagination so that we could use it as a tool to walk by faith.  In the Book of Psalms, Solomon’s father David wrote, “Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law does he meditate day and night” (Ps 1:1,2).  Joshua wrote of a conversation he had with God where God told him, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8).  These two passages, and many others that support them, drive home the power of meditation.  Now, I will say that the world has attempting to tap into this power lately with teachings on positive thinking, silent meditation, and etc.  Meditation is powerful.  When you meditate on something it gets down in your spirit.  It becomes a reality on the inside of you, well before it actually manifests itself in the natural.  In other words, when you truly meditate something, when the image of it becomes so real to you on the inside that you literally see yourself becoming it, then what happens is that you literally “receive” that thing in your heart, well before you ever “see” it in your hands.

When you understand this you know why worry is a sin.  Worry is a form of negative meditation.  When you worry you develop an image of failure in your heart so strong that it becomes a reality to you, and your inner image takes you down the road of bringing that thing to pass in your life.  God expects us to use the power of meditation, the power of developing an image on the inside of us, to help develop faith (not fear), hope (not despair), and belief (not doubt).

The person who devises wicked imaginations is the person who is using God’s power of meditation for evil and not for good.  This is a person that is developing an image of the negative things they want to do to others.  The image becomes so strong that they can’t help but run into mischief (see our text).

So what does this mean to you today? It means you should not use the power of meditation for evil.  God placed this power down inside of you, so that you could use it to develop an image of righteousness and peace.  So think on things that are pleasing to God, develop an image of what He desires you to be, and get that image down in your heart. If you do, you will find yourself walking down the path that leads to God’s best for your life!

Confession for today:  Father, I thank You for helping me to meditate Your Word daily.  I declare, by faith, that I meditate on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  I develop an image of myself being the person You desire for me to be.  I can do what You say I can do.  I can be who You say I can be.  I can have what You say I can have.  I meditate on these things, I develop an image down in my heart, and I become that person by faith!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(6:18) The Seven Sins: #5 Feet that be swift in running to Mischief

(Prov 6:18 KJV) An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God,” by looking at the fifth sin listed – feet that be swift in running to mischief.  At first read the reference to feet might seem a bit awkward.  Although this reference was common in Biblical times, it is definitely not common today.  In the Bible a reference feet – more specifically, feet that are in motion – is a reference to one’s sense of urgency or lack thereof.  The person listed here, under the things that God hates, has feet that are swift in running to mischief.  Another translation of this verse says, “Feet that are quick to rush into evil,” while another says, “Feet that race down a wicked track.”  Do you get the sense of urgency?  Not only has this person planned to do wrong, but they are in a hurry to do it.  They run, rush, and race to do evil.  They have spent time devising an evil plan and they then carry it out with twisted passion.  As if they were afraid of losing time, they impatiently hasten towards wicked deeds.

God hates this, not only because the sin premeditated, but because the sinner finds a twisted enjoyment in doing it. They willingly, enthusiastically, and diligently do the work of the enemy.  This is not someone who slipped into sin, this is someone who passionately and purposefully lives there; and God hates it.  Once again, He does not hate the person, but rather the state of the person.  He hates the fact that this person is so deceived that they are putting their all into serving the wrong side.  They get an enjoyment out of making others miserable; stirring up strife, discord, and disharmony along the way.

Now, let’s contrast this with something Paul said in the New Testament.  He said, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15).  Both sets of feet – the ones Solomon refers to and the ones Paul refers to – are running hard.  Both men (that possess the feet) are doing what they do with a passion.  But the major difference is whom they are doing it for.  One is serving satan, the other Jehovah.  One gets enjoyment out of stirring up mess, while the other is equally passionate about sharing the Good News of eternal life in Christ.  One passionately uses his time, energy and effort for the Kingdom of God, while the other uses them for the kingdom of darkness.  If I were to ask the question, “Which one are you?”  Unfortunately, most believers today would say, “I am neither.”  While they may not be serving satan with passion and purpose, they may not be serving God with passion and purpose either.  Many believers fall into the lull of mediocrity and they attempt to serve God free of passion, enthusiasm, zest or zeal.  It’s a sad commentary, but the Super Bowl was played last night and I would venture to say that most believers are more apt to express outward enthusiasm and exuberance for a sports team than they ever would for God.

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

1.  Your feet should be busy.  If you served satan with passion, then you should serve God with more passion.

2.  God is against lukewarm, mediocre, run of the mill Christians (Rev 3:15).  God did not save you to sit, He saved you to serve.  Serve God and man with energy, enthusiasm, zest and zeal.

3.  There is no such thing as an undercover Christian.  If you show more passion for a sports team, than you do for God, or if you none of your friends know you are a Christian, then it is time to take self-inventory. 

Confession for today:  Father, I thank You for provoking me unto righteousness today.  I declare, by faith, that I overcome mediocrity.  Average is my enemy.  I serve You and man with passion, purpose, diligence, and dedication.  I openly express my love for You.  I am not ashamed of You, nor of what You have done in my life.  My feet run towards making a difference in the world.  Use me Father, for Your glory!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

(6:19) The Seven Sins: #6 A False Witness that Speaks Lies

(Prov 6:19 KJV) A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God,” by looking at the sixth sin listed – a false witness that speaks lies.  Now, you may be thinking: “Hold on Rick.  You already mentioned this one in #2, when you taught about the lying tongue.”  I know, but Solomon listed this one separate and I will explain the difference.  When I dealt with #2 I said, “You, like God, are a tri-partite being; meaning that there are three parts of you.  You are a spirit, you possess a soul, and you live in a body.  If your spirit desires one thing, but your soul another, and yet your body is pulling you in a third direction, then you are not fully integrated.  This inward struggle will eventually lead to a conflict and hence, a violation of your integrity.  If you can learn to control your tongue then you will literally learn to control your life, because what comes out of your tongue is an outward representation of what is going on inside of you.  Believers who lie are people who are losing the battle on the inside.”  The emphasis of the lying tongue was a call against violating your own integrity.  It was matter of controlling yourself and overcoming the inward struggle.  This message is different because it involves someone else.

There are three main categories of faults: Iniquity (inward), transgression (outward), and sin (upward).  When you bear false witness, when you intentionally lie about the actions of another, you are committing all three.  You are sinning (upward) against God, you are committing a transgression (outward) against man, and it is all because of your inward flaws.  It is one thing to lie and violate yourself, but quite another to lie on someone else and attempt to bring them down.

The modern day word for this is slander.  Slander is a defamation of character; a malicious, false, and derogatory statement or report about someone else; an attempt to defame someone’s good name.  Jehovah hates this, because it shows that you clearly don’t value the life of the other person.  You are not the creator.  You don’t know what God wants to do with that person.  You don’t know what their destiny is.  You don’t know the plans that God has for them and when you speak lies against them you may be coming up against God’s purpose for their lives.  When you come up against them, you are coming up against all that God wants to do in and through them.  When you tear someone down you may be tearing down their hope, dreams and aspirations.

Who are we to make up a lie against someone that God created?  Who are we to fabricate stories about people we really don’t know.  Why would we use our words for evil, when we could be using them for good?  The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” may have works for the playground, but it definitely does not work in real life.  Slanderous words can destroy someone’s name, career, livelihood, marriage, and etc.  Why would you want to do that?

So what does this mean to you today? Simply put, it means that you should use your words to build up and never to tear down.  Paul said it best when he said, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Eph 4:29).  Your words can either minister grace or destruction.  Which will you choose?

Confession for today:  Father, I speak the truth in love.  Even when I don’t like the things that others do, I refuse to use my lips as a weapon against them.  I refrain from speaking evil and definitely from speaking lies.  No corrupt communication proceeds from out of my mouth, but only that which is good, that it may minister grace, peace, and love to the hearers.  If I can’t honestly say good things about someone, I will refrain from saying anything at all.  I keep my tongue and I rule my life.  Father, I don’t know what You are doing in the lives of others and I refuse to come up against You, and Your purpose for their lives.  I am here to help and not to hurt what You want to do in the earth!  Use me for Your glory!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(6:19) The Seven Sins: #7 He that Sows Discord among the Brethren

(Prov 6:19 KJV) A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God,” by looking at the seventh and last sin listed – he that sows discord among the brethren.  This message flows in the same vein as the one from yesterday, where we learned about those that speak lies about others.  Their focus is to stir up dissention.  Whether they know it or not, they are making the enemy happy.  He loves it when believers fight against each other, because he knows that there is tremendous power in unity.

The Bible has a lot to say about people coming together in unity.  Even before God established His covenant with Abraham we see an example of this.  In the 11th chapter of the book of Genesis people decided to build a tower up to heaven.  Now, although their motives may not have been pure, their method was extremely affective.  They were completely united, on one accord, and working together.  The Bible says if they continued operating this way that there was literally nothing that they could not accomplish (Gen 11:6).  We should all learn a lesson from them.

In the book of Nehemiah we see an awesome example of unity when thousands of people gathered together to hear Ezra, the scribe, read the Word of God to them.  Nehemiah says that, “All the people gathered themselves together as one man” (Neh 8:1).  Imagine that.  Thousands of people gathered together and the Bible says they were as one man.  They were completely unified and God was able to minister to them mightily.  There is something about being together, with someone else, on something.  Solomon later said, “Two are better than one” (Ecc 4:9).  That may be a simple statement, but it carries a powerful message.  God never intended for us to attempt to live our lives as lone rangers.  Jehovah knows that we can get a lot more done when we involve others, but for us to be affective, we must walk together in unity.  Amos asked the question, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3).  You and I both know the answer.  For us to walk peaceably with man, and to get things done for God and His Kingdom, we must walk together in unity.

I’ll give you one final example.  On the Day of Pentecost, the believers that were waiting on the manifestation of the Holy Spirit (over 120), were all in the same place, at the same time, united in prayer and purpose.  They were on one accord and their unity freed God to release His Holy Spirit upon them.  The same Holy Spirit that Adam lost in the Garden and that Jesus paid the price on Calvary’s cross for was released when believers were together in unity (see Acts 1&2).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that there is tremendous power released when believers unite.  This is why the enemy is so busy attempting to pull us apart and that is why God hates it when we allow it to happen.  One of the basic tenets of warfare is ‘divide and conquer.’  Jesus Himself said, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” (Mat 12:25).  The enemy knows that if he can divide us, he can keep us from being affective in the earth.  So please don’t allow him to use you as a tool of division and don’t allow yourself to be divided because of race, color, age, gender, styles of worship, minor differences, and etc.  We have too much at stake to allow division to slow down the mission of the Kingdom!

Confession for today:  Father, I thank You for helping me to understand the tactics of the enemy.  I will not allow the enemy to sow seeds of discord around me.  If I see it, I will come up against it.  I am here to spread love and peace, not hatred and discord.  Use me father, as a person that brings people together.  Two are better than one and I declare, by faith, that I partner with other believers to make a difference in my sphere of influence.  Together with others and submitted to You, we will make a difference in our environment!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

(6:20) Fathers and Sons

(Prov 6:20 NIV) My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon makes a shift to a familiar topic for him – fathers and sons.  Solomon knew first-hand the impact a Godly father can have on a son.  For Solomon was the recipient of a legacy of righteousness.  He was where he was in life – as a King (naturally), and with God (Spiritually) – because of the impartation that his father made in him.  It was never God’s intent for the next generation to have to start from scratch.  When He blessed Abraham and Abraham’s seed, He wanted THE BLESSING to flow from generation to generation to generation.  If you read the Bible you realize that Abraham started from scratch with God, but his son Isaac did not have to.  Isaac received a legacy of righteousness from his father, so he was able to start at a greater level in life.  It was the same with Isaac’s son Jacob and with his twelve boys (the leaders of the 12 tribes).  God is a God of progression, not regression, and He desires that our children have the advantage of tapping into everything that we have learned from Him and about Him, in addition to what they learn on their own.  In other words, my children have access to everything I have learned in God, with God, and about God.  I freely teach them what I know and they can couple that with what they learn themselves.  This gives them an advantage in life.  I was not he recipient of such teaching.  My mother taught me some things, but for the most part, I started out in God from scratch.  When I came to God at 23, I did not even know one verse of scripture.  But praise God that my children will not have to start where I started.

This reminds me of a message I preached last year for Father’s Day entitled, “Fathering for a Legacy.”  In that message I said, “Any male that is able-bodied can reproduce and create a child, but that does not mean that they are actively “Fathering.”  Fathering is the act of being a father.  It is more than just having the title; it requires energy and effort on the part of the Father.”

Later on in Proverbs, Solomon said, “A good man leaves an inheritance [of moral stability and goodness] to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner [finds its way eventually] into the hands of the righteous, for whom it was laid up.” (Prov 13:22 AMP).  Did you get that?  We are supposed to leave a legacy that will affect our children’s children.  That’s our part.  That’s our Godly mandate.  But in our text Solomon talks about the other side of the equation.  He tells sons (gender non-specific) what their role is with their fathers.  Children are not to forsake the Godly wisdom of their parents.  Paul explained this well in letter to the church at Ephesus, when he said, “Children, do what your parents tell you.  This is only right. “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “So you will live well and have a long life” (Ephesians 6:1-3 MSG).  As children, obeying our parents opens us to the Blessing of God – so we can live long and strong!

So what does this mean to you today? To parents is means that our role as Godly leaders in the home is about development, not dictatorship!  We are here to develop our children in the way of the Lord, not to Lord over them.  Our focus must be to empower them to maximize their potential, in the earth.  And to children it means that we should submit to the authority and wisdom of our parents.  They have a mandate from God to pour into us.  When we fight against them, we are coming up against God.  Allow God to bless you through your parents and you will be much further along than those that attempt to do it on their own.

Confession for today:  Father, as I child, I declare, that I receive Godly instruction from my parents.  I don’t fight against them.  I receive what You want to say to me through them.  I allow You, Father, to minister to me through my parents and I thank You for using them for Your glory.  As a parent, I declare, that I release into my children all that You have poured into me.  They will not have to start where I started.  I want better for my children and I thank You for being a God that transfers the Blessing to the second and third generation.  My children and my children’s children shall be blessed because of the anointing upon my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

(6:21,22) A Parent’s Teaching

(Prov 6:21,22 NLT)  Keep their words always in your heart.  Tie them around your neck.  When you walk, their counsel will lead you.  When you sleep, they will protect you. When you wake up, they will advise you.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Solomon continues to flow in the same vein as yesterday’s message where He told us to submit to the commands and teachings of our parents.  Our parents have a great deal to do with who we are today; and I explained yesterday that God set it up that way.  He expects parents to love, teach, train, shape, and mold children into productive citizens in His Kingdom.  As I read the passage for this morning I could not help but think – with a smile on my face – of all the things that my mother taught me growing up that are still with me today.  In many ways, she has helped shape who I am.

Dr. I. V. Hilliard says that there are four main factors that shape our value and belief system: 1) Social Environment, 2) Credible Authority Figures, 3) Repetitious Information, and 4) Personal Experiences.

As I think through these I can see how the environment I grew up in made an impact in and on me.  It was not easy growing up as a first generation American in a violent melting pot (Brooklyn).  I was too Dominican to be fully accepted as American and too American to be fully accepted as Dominican.  But learning to maneuver through racial, social, and economic differences helped shape me and for that I am thankful.  What truly helped me through the many challenges I faced was the second category: credible authority figures.  I highly esteemed (and still do) my Mother and everything she had to say.  She and my uncles were examples of hard work, honesty, integrity, and dedication.  She taught me to make an honest living, to abstain from illegal activity, and to protect my good name at all costs.  We may not have had much, but we had a good name.  Every job I received as a young teenager, I received on the merit of my mother’s name.  When people found out I was my mother’s son, they knew I could be trusted to handle money, to work hard, and to be on time.  I then look at repetitious information.  It’s funny, but I find myself saying to my kids what my mother taught me.  She told me things like, “Show me who you hang with and I will tell you who you are,” “All you have is your name,” and, “If you don’t give yourself importance, no one else will.”  Believe me, there were more.  My mother was one of the very few in our family, at the time, to graduate from High School, but what she taught me were things not learned in school.  These were life lessons she had learned from the credible authority figures in her life.  And then finally, personal experiences.  This is what really takes me back when I read today’s passage.  I know that my mother’s words are in my heart.  I have walked (for years) in her counsel.  Her guidance has protected me.  Her wisdom has advised me.  When she first told me many of these things they were simply sayings to me, but now, after years of experience, they are part of the fabric of my being.  My mother’s words have helped me become the man I am today.

So what does this mean to you today? To children it means that you should allow the instruction of your parents to get down in your heart.  You may not understand it all today, but it will serve you well in the future.  To parents it means that you should continue to make every effort to make the impartation in your children that God expects you to make.  God trusted you enough to give birth them; can He trust enough train them in the way that they should go?  And be encouraged, you teaching is making a difference, even if it does not always look like it.

Confession for today:  Father, I thank You for blessing me with parents that loved me just the way that I was, but who also loved me too much to leave me that way.  They trained me in the way that I should go and I honor You by honoring them every day of my life.  Also, I thank You for blessing me to be a parent.  I will sow seeds of righteousness into my children.  I will make the impartation in their lives that You expect and desire for me to make.  Use me Father, to speak life into my children and to prepare them to be the men and women You have destined, designed, and desired for them to be!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

(6:23) Be a Source of Light for your Children

(Prov 6:23 MSG) For sound advice is a beacon, good teaching is a light, moral discipline is a life path.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  We closed out last week with a message about our parent’s teaching.  Solomon told us that their counsel will lead, protect, and advise us.  Here Solomon continues to flow in that same vein and further tells us what we can receive from our parents.

For sound advice is a beacon:  Other translations call this a lamp.  Parents should be the lamp their children need to help illuminate their path.  When children look to their parents they should see light.  Every conversation should help them better understand life, its challenges, and their responsibility to maneuver through the pitfalls and obstacles with fearless confidence in God and themselves.  When your children spend time with you do they leave having encountered light or darkness?  After they receive your counsel, are they better equipped or more confused?  Make every effort to be that beacon for your children.  Ask God to use you as a source of light (a lamp) they can come to whenever they need it.

Good teaching is a light:  If the parent is supposed to be the lamp, then what comes out of their mouth should be the light.  This teaching is really a reference to God’s Word or Godly instruction.  We should teach our children God’s truth and that truth is light.  This light makes things clear.  It enlightens our understanding.  It instructs us in what is right and wrong, Godly and ungodly, righteousness and unrighteous.  Solomon’s father David said, “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.  The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes” (Psalm 19:8).  God’s instruction should bring light to the eyes of our children.  This light pierces through ambiguity and darkness.  It helps them to overcome ignorance.  Once their eyes are enlightened, they know what they should and should not do.  Now, what they do is still up to them, but your part is to make sure they are not ignorant – to share God’s instruction (light) with them.

Moral discipline is a life path:  Other translations say, “reproofs of instruction” and “corrections of discipline.”  This is where Solomon expects us, as parents, to correct our children.  When we see them doing something wrong, especially something that violates God’s Word, then we are to correct them in love.  Yes, we are to love them just the way they are, but we should love them too much to leave them that way.  These reproofs/corrections help keep them of the life path God desires for them.  If we see them doing something wrong and fail to correct them, they may spend an unnecessary amount of time off of God’s desired path for their lives.  Believe me, we will have to give account for what we told or failed to tell our children.  Later on in Proverbs Solomon said, “A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them” (13:24).

So what does this mean to you today? It means you should be a source of light for your children.  There are only two things the Bible says that God is: light (1st John 1:5) and love (1st John 4:8,16).  Allow God to be both to your children through you.  You must love your children, but you have to love them too much not to correct them.  Allow God’s light to shine through you, to them, and do it in love.  Love them enough to lead them in the way they should go!

Confession for today:  Father, You are light, in You there is no darkness at all.  You are also love – the source of all true love.  I declare, by faith, that You are deep down in me so much that Your light and Your love permeate through me to my children.  I lead them in the way that they should go.  I am a lamp for them to come to when they need counsel.  And when they do, I will speak the truth in love.  The words from my mouth are words that line up with Your Word.  They go forth as light to illuminate the eyes of my children.  My children shall not be ignorant.  They are equipped, enlightened, and empowered by Your Spirit and Your Word!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

(6:24) Being a Godly Parent

(Prov 6:24,25 NLT) It will keep you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of a promiscuous woman.  Don’t lust for her beauty.  Don’t let her coy glances seduce you.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  For the last few messages Solomon has been teaching us about the counsel of our parents.  Yesterday he told us that the advice, teaching and discipline of our parents would keep us on the path of life – God’s best for our lives.  He further elaborates in this text as he tells us that heeding the counsel of our parents will keep us from the immoral woman.  He knows that youth, young men especially, are susceptible to the smooth tongue of a promiscuous woman.  This is not just a “so-so” looking promiscuous woman, but a beautiful one, who knows how to work her eyes.  She seduces young men and they get captivated by her supposed affinity for them.  But the reality is that it is all a ploy.  She is a just a tool in the hands of the enemy, used to get young men and women off course; designed to keep them from God’s best.

The counsel of parents Solomon is talking about is Godly counsel.  I know my mother tried her best to counsel me, and she did a great job, but when it came to women she did not say much.  My father was not in my life, so the lot fell on my uncles to coach, teach, and mentor me, as far as women were concerned.  The problem is that they were not Godly.  For the most part, they were a group of older, married men, who saw nothing wrong with having a good time with a woman other than their wife.  That being the case, they definitely saw nothing wrong with a young man sowing his proverbial ‘wild oats.’  Their advice was for me to be with as many woman as I could; especially if the woman was a beautiful, promiscuous woman, that was doing the seducing.  If a woman was coming on to you, then they saw it as some sort of twisted blessing – the easier the better.  Now, I know this might sound a bit harsh, and to be quite honest, it sounds foreign to me now, but it is the truth and this same story plays out in the lives of young men and women every day.  I did not have a Godly person warning me about the perils of premarital sex, urging me to keep myself pure for marriage, and explaining to me how sex is something that should be reserved for the undefiled bed of a husband and wife.

That was then, this is now.  I don’t dwell on the past, but I do learn from it.  I have two teenage children and I talk to them about all those things I wish someone had talked to me about.  I provide them Godly counsel.  I take them to the Word over and over again.  Why?  Because God expects me to be their parent, not their buddy. This is not to say that I am not friendly with my kids.  We have a great relationship.  But a parent has to tell their children things that a friend might not.  A parent will warn their child about the seductive powers of the promiscuous woman, whereas a buddy might look the other way.  A parent can’t afford to look the other way.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God expects you to be a parent to your children.  Love them, accept them, and foster an environment of healthy dialogue with them.  Let them know that they can come to you about anything.  You must be willing to be used of God to be a blessing, not a burden.  Be willing to correct them, without condemning them. Speak the truth in love.  God needs you to have a relationship with them that is close enough and strong enough to protect them from the seductions of the promiscuous woman and all other attacks of the enemy.  Believe me, if the enemy can’t get you, he will go after your kids.  So protect yourself and your children by having open communication and by sharing Godly counsel!

Confession for today:  Father, I thank You for blessing me to be a parent to my children.  I speak the truth to them in love.  I declare, by faith, that we have open and intimate communication.  They can come to me about anything I will be the conduit through which You bless them.  I am here to correct, but not to condemn.  I lovingly accept my children.  I cautiously and courageously instruct them in the way that they should go.  Thank You Father for giving me the grace and the wisdom to be a Godly parent!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

(6:26) Consequences

(Prov 6:26 NLT) For a prostitute will bring you to poverty, but sleeping with another man’s wife will cost you your life.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  For the last few messages Solomon has been teaching us about the counsel of our parents.  Yesterday he told us, in no uncertain terms, to stay away from immoral women.  In this text he further explains that there are consequences to ignoring the counsel of our parents. There are consequences to disregarding Godly instruction.  There are consequences to turning away from God. 

We live in a society today where many have an ‘anything goes’ mindset.  I received a video (in my email) yesterday that asked the question: how did we get here?  To give the answer it talked about how we allowed society to ban prayer from schools.  We allowed someone to convince us that taking the Bible and the posting of the 10 Commandments out of schools was a good idea.  That somehow, for our kids to read, “Thou shalt not kill,” or “Thou shalt no steal,” was wrong.  Someone else said that our little girls could have abortions, without even telling their parents, and we let it slide.  Someone else said that since our boys ‘will-be-boys,’ that we should allow the school system to give them as many condoms as they want, even without the parents knowing; and we said, “OK.”  We let some supposed expert tell us that we should not spank our kids and we said, “That’s right.  Spanking is old fashioned.”  God forbid if any teacher or any adult from the neighborhood disciplines a child today that is not their own.  We then said that what you do in private is your business; that your private life should be separate from your public life, and that it simply does not matter, even if you are holding public office.  And then, in some states, we allowed two men or two women to come together, legally calling it a marriage, an we said, “What they do is their business.”  Our television and radio airwaves are now convoluted with filth – things that would never have been allowed 30 years ago are commonplace today.  And the list can go on and on.  I love our nation and I pray for her all the time.  I pray for our new President, his staff, the Congress, the Supreme Court; state, local, and city officials at every level; for the protection of our borders, the safety of our children, the status of our education system; our economy, this stimulus plan, and etc.  I know God has blessed America, but we are fooling ourselves if we think that we can continue to call wrong right without any consequences.

In this text Solomon reminds us that there are consequences to disregarding God’s commands.  His commands are not suggestions.  He told us what to do in His Word and when we ignore His commands, we open ourselves up to the enemy.  The prodigal son (see Luke 15) had it all, but he decided that he wanted a different type of life.  He took his inheritance and he went out to sow his ‘wild oats’ with wild women and guess what happened?  He spent it all.  He squandered what his father had spent many years preparing for him to have.  His father saved that money for his future, but he spent it in a few days outside of the will of God.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that living in sin leaves you vulnerable to the enemy.  Choosing to live the life of sin makes you susceptible to poverty and it may cost you’re your life – at least life as you know it.  Paul said it best when he said, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows” (Gal 6:7).  If you don’t like the harvest you are reaping, then its time to check the seed you are sowing!

Confession for today:  Father, I thank You for being honest with me.  I know that my actions have consequences attached to them.  I know, from Your Word, that I will reap whatever I sow.  Therefore, I declare, by faith, that I sow seeds of righteousness.  I abstain from even the appearance of evil.  I walk uprightly before You and man.  I am a beacon of light in a dark world.  Use me Father to draw others to You.  Use me as an example of Your glory in the earth.  I release myself to You today, to be used to make a difference!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

(6:27-29) If You Play With Fire

(Prov 6:27-29 MSG) Can you build a fire in your lap and not burn your pants?  Can you walk barefoot on hot coals and not get blisters?  It’s the same when you have sex with your neighbor’s wife: Touch her and you’ll pay for it. No excuses.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  It’s interesting that Solomon would tell us not to sleep with another man’s wife. Solomon learned many things from his father David.  For the most part he learned what TO do, but in this case, I believe he learned what NOT to do.  Let me explain.

Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, was not always David’s wife.  Originally she was the wife of Uriah, one of David’s soldiers.  There came a time when David’s army was out in battle and he decided to say home.  One night, while he was home, he walked out on to his balcony, looked down, and noticed a beautiful woman taking a bath.  The woman was behind walls, but there was no roof where she was, so David could look down on her.  Her beauty enamored him and he wanted to have her.  He sent servants to go and bring her to him and he slept with her.  The problem was that she was married.  David knew it, but he did it anyway.  Remember, this was the same David that was picked out by the prophet Samuel to be king, the same David that was anointed in front of his brothers, the same David that killed goliath with a sling shot and a stone – yes, that same David! He slept with another man’s wife and guess what?  She got pregnant.  So what would David do?  He devised a plan.  He ordered that her husband, Uriah, be brought home from the front lines.  He was hoping that Uriah would sleep with his wife, so she could tell him that the baby was his.  The problem is that Uriah was an ‘Old School’ soldier and there was an ancient custom that soldiers did not go home in the middle of a war, so he decided to sleep in the barracks (housing for the palace troops).  This posed a big problem for David.  So David decided to send him back out to war with sealed instructions.  Uriah did not know it, but he was carrying his own death order.  Uriah returned to the front lines, gave his commander the order, and unbeknownst to him, the order stated that they should leave Uriah in the middle of a fight to die.  David’s men followed the order and Uriah was killed (see 2nd Sam 11).

David then tried to move on like nothing had happened.  So God sent a prophet (Nathan) to reprove him of his wrongdoing.  David wound up sincerely repenting before God.  But that does not mean that he was not going to reap what he had sown. The baby was born, but died a few days after birth.  David knew why and he accepted it.  David wound up taking Bathsheba as his wife and later they had Solomon.  David recovered from this, but it was an ugly episode.  A marriage was destroyed, an innocent man was killed, and an innocent baby died; all because one man wanted to sleep with another man’s wife.

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

  1. If you play with fire you will get burned.
  2. If you make a mistake – even a major one – you can repent before God and recover.
  3. Just because you repent, it does not mean that you will not reap what you have sown.
  4. It’s never final unless God says it’s final.  This could have been the end of David, but after swallowing the bitter pill of what happened to the baby, he was able to move on.  He was still used of God mightily after this, and so can you.
  5. Don’t judge your future by your past.  If you are still living, then God can still use you mightily – for His glory!

Confession for today:  Father, I know that I am not perfect and I have made mistakes.  But I have repented of those mistakes and I move forward by faith.  I receive Your forgiveness and I forgive myself.  I will not allow the enemy to keep me in condemnation.  If I have to reap the harvest for what I did, I will reap it and then move on.  This is not the end for me.  And I learn from my mistakes.  I will not play with fire, because I know that if I do, I will get burned.  I stay away from what is wrong and I walk uprightly before You!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

(6:30-32) Making Sound Decisions

(Prov 6:30-32 NLT) Excuses might be found for a thief who steals because he is starving.  But if he is caught, he must pay back seven times what he stole, even if he has to sell everything in his house.  But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Yesterday we learned that if you play with fire, you will get burned, and the fire Solomon is talking about is adultery.  He knew first-hand the danger and destruction associated with adultery, because it almost cost his father David everything.  David was an anointed King, a committed servant of God, and a righteous leader, but he almost threw it all away by sleeping with another man’s wife.

Here Solomon tells us that it is somewhat understandable for a person that is starving to steal food.  Most people would agree that this person did what they did for a reason and that most of us would do the same thing if in the same situation.  But God, through Solomon, is clear that even in this extreme case, what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong.  Even if the starving man steals, he is going to have to pay back what he stole. There are places in the Old Testament where it says that they have to pay back double, or payback five times what was stolen.  It looks like Solomon added them both together and says that they have to payback seven times what was stolen.  Whether it is 2X, 5X, or 7X, the point is that there is a price to pay for doing something wrong.

I like how Solomon used the case of the starving man to compare and contrast it with adultery.  Although we do not condone any form of stealing, at least in the case of the starving man, stealing food understandable.  There is a clear reason for his actions and that reason is life threatening.  The starving man could have rationally considered his starvation and the consequences of stealing food and come to the conclusion that it was worth it.  Even if it later cost him everything he had, he would still have his life and he could make sure the person he stole from received the proper compensation.  But in the case of adultery there is NO JUSTIFICATION! There is no way to come up with a good excuse for sleeping with another man’s wife.  It’s a despicable act and it will not go unpunished.  Solomon calls this man a fool who destroys himself.  Other translations say that he has “no sense,” and that he “lacks judgment.”  The Book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom and this man is showing everyone that he doesn’t have any. 

So what does this mean to you today? It means that as I often say, “Your life is a grand-sum-total of your decisions.”  You are where you are today, because of the decisions you have made in your past.  The decisions you make today will affect your tomorrow.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your decisions don’t matter or that God will overlook your wrongdoing.  If the starving man still had to pay for his actions, and they are somewhat justifiable, then don’t think that you can choose to live like a heathen, but still walk in the Blessing.  Whether or not God’s blessing flows in your life is up to you.  So please do what’s right.  Walk uprightly before God and man.  Consider the consequences of what you do.  Make sound decisions, based on Godly counsel.  If you do these things, you will experience God’s best for 2009 and beyond!

Confession for today:  Father, I will not fool myself and I know that I cannot fool You.  I read Your Word, I heed Your counsel, I am led of Your Spirit, and I walk in Your ways.  I do not attempt to justify wrongdoing.  As a matter of fact, Lord, I ask You to create in me a clean heart and to renew the right Spirit within me.  I declare, by faith, that I have pure and righteous desires.  I love what You love.  I want what You want for my life.  I chase after righteous desires with my whole heart and I enjoy Your best in 2009 and beyond!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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

(6:33-35) Your Actions Matter

(Prov 6:33-35 NLT) He will be wounded and disgraced. His shame will never be erased.  For the woman’s jealous husband will be furious, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.  He will accept no compensation, nor be satisfied with a payoff of any size.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  For a few days now we have been looking at the devastating affects of adultery.  In contrast to the starving man who stole food, there is no true compensation for the husband who is the recipient of this dastardly act.  Solomon says that he will not be satisfied with a payoff of any size.  The sanctity of his marriage was violated, his honor was disrespected, and in most cases, his rage would be kindled against the violator.  If that were not bad enough – living in the constant worry of vengeance from an angry man – Solomon says that the violator’s own honor would be disrespected and that his shame would never be erased.  This man chose to commit a terrible act and he will have to deal with the consequences.  He has to live with the fact that he violated a marriage – if he too was married, then he violated two marriages – he defamed his own name, and he kindled the rage of a man who might never forgive him.

Solomon had a lot to say about this and I believe we have belabored the point long enough.  I hope you see by now how important your actions are.  Some people believe that God is responsible for everything that happens in your life, as if your actions don’t matter. They commit terrible acts, they reap the consequences of what they have done, and then they say things like, “Well, I guess it was God’s will for this to happen to me.  God is teaching me through suffering.”  No, you are reaping what you have sown.  In the case of the man committing adultery in our text, God did not do that.  It was the decision of a man and a woman and the results of their decision is something they have to live with.  Let me give you another example.  Let’s say a man went on a killing spree and killed five people.  He is caught, convicted, and sentenced to death.  Let’s say that on death row he gives his life to Christ.  That is great!  I rejoice with him and so do angels in heaven.  He will go to heaven when he dies.  He has received forgiveness from God.  But that does not mean that he will then receive forgiveness from the judicial system. He might still have to pay for what he did and pay for it with his life.  That does not mean that he is not forgiven, he is, but spiritual repentance does not always wipe out natural consequences. So don’t think that you can commit all sorts of sin and then go home, repent to God, and live like it never happened.

Grace is God GIVING you what you do not deserve.  Mercy is God NOT giving you what you do deserve. Thank God for both grace and mercy!  But don’t live your life depending on them.  Take responsibility for your actions.  When you do, you can come to the throne of God, in the name of His Son Jesus, with God with boldness, confidence, and expectation.  Because then you know you are doing your part and you fully expect Him to do His.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a choice.  You can either live like the world and hope that Grace and Mercy will see you through everyday or you can allow the Holy Spirit to guide you as you live out the Bible-based and purpose-driven life He expects you to live.  Believe me, the latter is better.  When you live the life God expects you to live you can pray with confidence, walk with boldness, and expect God’s best every day!

Confession for today:  Father, I know my actions matter.  I declare, by faith, that I follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit and I judge every decision by Your Word.  I am not perfect and if I do make a mistake, I quickly repent and I thank You for both Grace and Mercy.  But I don’t live my life that way.  Sin is not my lifestyle.  I am called to righteousness and that’s how I live.  I do my part and I fully expect You to do Yours.  I am here to make a difference.  Use me father as I enter this day.  Use me for Your glory.  Use me as light and salt.  Use me to share Your love with others and to make an impact in the lives of all those I come in contact with today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.