If you are just jumping in now, I have been pulling out a few lines in Proverbs that stand out to me, but I encourage you to do the same – you will likely find different ones!
22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
My mom always tells these horror stories from when I was a young child about how I was a nightmare to deal with (I’m sure she exaggerates…), but that didn’t mean that she just accepted it. She tells me she prayed and asked that God would turn my stubborn, strong-willed self to be stubborn and strong-willed for God. I can’t say that I have done a perfect job, but I know I am thankful for the prayers my mom said. I don’t hit people in anger anymore (or throw whatever is in my hand across the room when I get mad). Though I sometimes struggle to stay on fire for God, I am trying to do what I can to stay faithful through it. The attribute of being strong-willed has been put to use in staying steadfast even when I go through times of struggle. If you are the child who was raised in the faith and is still in it, thank your parents! If you are someone who has children or plans to someday, keep this in mind. It starts young.
4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
do not trust your own cleverness.
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
Finding a balance between providing for life and accumulating wealth can be difficult. Most of us want to have nice things in life, but it can consume us. That first line stands out to me – “Do not wear yourself out to get rich;” If I am so focused on work that I am worn out everyday, or don’t have time to spend with my family, I don’t think that is right. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of other places in the Bible that tell us we should be hard workers and not to be lazy (see next section), but overworking yourself just to gain wealth doesn’t feel right. You might not be able to get everything you want, but learning to be content with what you have is for the better. Contentedness is something I have been working on the last few months. What I have is enough.
30 I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
Being lazy leads to an inability to thrive. We have to find that balance of hard work, but not letting it consume us to where gaining possessions becomes our sole focus. How are your priorities? Where is God on that list?
We are moving out of Proverbs tomorrow, so enjoy these little bits of wisdom!
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+22-24&version=NIV
Tomorrow we jump from Proverbs (many of Solomon’s writings) to 1 Kings 5-6 and 2 Chronicles 2-3 to read some of the events of King Solomon’s life and reign. We return to the rest of Proverbs next week on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.
I encourage you to read these chapters focusing again on what stands out to you. Depending on where you are at in life right now, different words of wisdom might stick. Here are some that stuck out to me:
19:11 – A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
I’m someone who tends to hold grudges. Especially if I wasn’t asked for forgiveness. When someone asks, I am usually willing to offer it, but the thing is, people don’t always ask. And sometimes I perceived I was wronged when the other person doesn’t see it that way. This proverb reminds me that it is better to forgive and move past an offense than to let it sit and weigh me down.
19:20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
Accepting correction isn’t easy. I tend to bristle at it (especially when I know it is something I did wrong, or need to change). It puts my defenses up, and I imagine many others feel the same. But when we accept proper discipline, we come out better. We learn and grow, and don’t continue to make the same mistakes. It is an important part of life to heed Godly advice and discipline, even when we don’t like it.
21:30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.
This one is an encouraging one to end today’s thoughts. Sometimes it can feel like in this world, evil is winning. That people have made their plans, and they are succeeding despite it being contrary to God’s ways. So here is your reminder: they won’t win out in the end. Nothing can succeed if it is against the LORD. We might feel weighed down and defeated when we see evil prevail, but we know how it ends. We know who wins. And it isn’t evil.
I’m writing this while life is weird. We are stuck at home, not going to church (I don’t think I have ever not been to church on Easter Sunday), many people not going to jobs, not having dinner with families, not enjoying a dinner out. But we can have peace when we remember that no matter what is happening now, God has a plan, it will come to be, and we can look forward to eternal life.
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+19-21&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 22-24 as we continue seeking and growing in God’s way during our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
For those of you that don’t know, I love Disney. Like, a lot. But one thing that often bothers me about many of the movies is the message to follow your heart. It sounds nice, but I know if I always followed my heart, I would not be in a good place. The beginning of Proverbs 16 reminds me of this.
If we just follow our hearts, we are likely to go the wrong way. We need to seek the LORD, and He will establish our steps (16:9). When we set our hearts on the LORD, then we become the wise. When we are the wise, then we become the discerning (16:21), the ones who say what is right (16:23). There are examples of many kinds of people in these chapters, but one thing is clear – all of the good things come from God.
A couple other of the lines of these proverbs stood out to me:
17:6 Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
I have a daughter, and I know how much she is loved by her grandparents. I may have even heard them say something like grandkids are better than kids. What really struck me in this one is that parents are the pride of their children. Am I living a life that my child would be proud of? I mean, she is almost 2 right now – she loves everything I do. But give it a few years – are my actions worthy of her pride? Maybe some of you reading are parents and can ask yourselves this. Maybe some of you are younger – direct yourselves to that first part – are you living a life that makes you a crown to your grandparents?
18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
When we talk, do we think about this big of an impact in what we say? The power of life and death. Sometimes we (or at least I) say the first thing that comes to my mind, and it is not always the best thing. If I could remember this proverb, would it make me take the time to think about what I am going to say before I say it? I hope so.
As you read through these chapters, spend some time focusing on the lines that stand out to you. Take time to examine the parts of your life that might be calling out as you read these Proverbs.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+16-18&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 19-21 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
Disease, murder, rioting, losing your job. There is a lot happening in our country right now that weighs on the heart. Those are a few things that are affecting the whole country, but don’t forget about loved ones dying, car accidents, fights, floods, financial strife, break-ups, and a whole host of other bad things that happen to people every day. How can we possibly stay happy when so many lousy things are happening in our lives?
Proverbs 15:15 says that a miserable heart means a miserable life, but a cheerful heart fills the day with song. You might think that the verse is only stating the obvious; if I feel sad, I am going to live a sad life, and if I feel happy, I am going to live a cheerful life. However, this is a proverb meant to teach us, and it is trying to tell us that we have a choice as to how our heart feels. You get to choose if you have a miserable heart or a happy heart. You still might be thinking, dude, how in the world do you expect me to choose to be happy when my mother just died, or my best friend was just diagnosed with cancer? That is some heavy stuff for a person to deal with, especially when it involves someone you love so dearly.
I was having a bad day some time ago because of something happening with someone I love, and then it hit me. God loves this person even more than I do so I wonder what His day is like? Then it hit me some more. God knows and loves every person in the world and there are many millions of them dealing with bad stuff every day. I was down in the dumps because of the one person in my life, so God must have been super-duper down in the dumps because of all the people He loves so dearly that were suffering in some way. However, I knew that couldn’t be true. I just don’t picture God moping around up in heaven.
So how does He keep a cheerful heart? I know, I know, He’s God so He can do anything, and we don’t begin to have the capabilities He has. Though, I think there are two main reasons He is not overcome with sadness and these are reasons we can also be happy when bad things happen. First, He focuses on all the good things that are happening. His heart is made glad when He sees someone feed the poor, go to church for the first time, be baptized, or when someone praises Him for all that He is. In the same way, we can also choose to focus on the good things in life. Second, He knows what is coming, a Kingdom on earth where there is no more pain and suffering. There is not one bad thing that can happen to you that can take away your chance to be in the Kingdom if you have made the choice to accept the gift of eternal life. That reward FAR outweighs anything that can happen during this very short lifetime. All that bad stuff becomes quite insignificant when you realize it has no effect on your salvation.
Will you be sad if your mother dies? Of course, but it is your choice if you want to mope around for months or years and continually dwell on her death. Or you can appreciate the great memories you had with your mother and focus on what is good in your world. Hopefully, you can also look forward to seeing her again in the Kingdom after she gets done with her long nap. Those twenty or fifty years without her in this life may seem like forever, but that amount of time is insignificant when you consider you will get to spend infinity years with her in the future.
You may be thinking, what if my mother was not a Christian and will not be in the Kingdom? There is more sadness when that hope for her is gone. It seems like we will be sad when we reach the Kingdom and some of our loved ones are not there with us, but we know that there will be no sadness in the Kingdom. How can that be? My guess is that we will understand that justice needed to occur, and we will be ok with the punishment they received because they deserved it.
Bad things are going to happen to you and those you love, but you have a choice to be happy or not. Don’t dwell on what makes you sad, think about what makes you happy. Moreover, don’t let the bad parts of life rob you of the joy you can feel knowing that Jesus will soon return to establish the Kingdom for us for an eternity.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+13-15&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 16-18 as we begin a week of devotions with Stephanie Fletcher on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
I have a lot of thoughts and emotions swirling in my head after the death of George Floyd and all the events surrounding it afterward. There is a lot to dig into and talk about, but I am going to keep this devotion simple by sharing some very pertinent verses from our reading in Proverbs today.
Proverbs 10:12 starts out by saying that hatred stirs up conflict. Well, that has certainly been proven true. If you want to dig to the core of this whole problem, racism, you will find hatred there. People have chosen to hate someone based on the color of their skin. Some of this hate is intense, and unfortunately leads to death at times, but there are also many people that carry with them a milder form of hate that still makes the problem worse even though it may not be so blatant.
So how should we combat hatred? The second part of verse 12 says that love covers over all wrongs. Love is what is needed to make this situation better. Considering everything that has happened, you might not be feeling that right now. There is a lot of anger out there, and it is ok to get angry sometimes. Some things are worth getting angry over. However, that anger can’t last. It will ruin you and those around you if you hold on to anger for too long. There have been many wrongs through the years that can’t be undone, but love can cover those wrongs, and forgiveness needs to be part of that love. The wrongs can be forgotten with forgiveness and love.
You have a choice to make. Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution? Proverbs 12:18 states, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” You can speak harshly and blame people for their wrongdoings. You might even be accurate about what you are saying, but if your tone is cruel and insensitive, it is like piercing them with a sword. A wise person’s words are softer, gentler, loving, and empathetic, which brings healing.
I think it is safe to say that most people have been feeling anxiety over what has been happening. The first part of Proverbs 12:25 says that anxiety weighs down the heart. I’m sure many of you have experienced that during these trying times lately. The good news is that there is a cure for your heart. The second part of verse 25 says a kind word cheers it up. Again, you can choose to speak harshly to others about what they have done wrong and make the wounds worse, or you can say something kind to help make their heart glad.
Proverbs 12:20 goes one step further by saying those who promote peace have joy. Peace feels so good and it is what most of us strive for. If you can promote peace, even in very small ways, it will bring joy to your heart. The only thing that will completely end racism is the return of Jesus, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up until then. I encourage you to make this world a better place one person at a time. You can’t solve this whole problem by yourself, but you can make it better by being a light to the individuals you come into contact with in your daily life.
I am not saying we all need to pretend nothing happened and try to live happily ever after. There are many conversations that need to take place and changes need to occur. I am saying that we need to embrace the wise words from scripture and go into those conversations with love, not with hate boiling on the inside. You also need to search your own heart to see if there is any hatred there, no matter how strong or mild it may be, and rid your heart of that hatred. Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+10-12&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 13-15 as we find more of God’s wisdom on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
We have already covered the first six chapters of Proverbs and they all center around wisdom. We are now moving on to chapters 7 through 9, which focus on……..drum roll please…….wisdom. Wisdom must be really really important. Proverbs 8:19 says wisdom is better than pure gold and Proverbs 8:35 says those that find wisdom find life and obtain favor from the Lord. Wisdom is clearly something everyone should have and use, but why do so many people come up short in this area?
Where is wisdom stored? In the brain. Wisdom is the ability to process information correctly and that is all done in the brain. Many people actually have a pretty good brain that correctly tells them the difference between right and wrong, but they do not always follow the right path because of the brain’s nemesis, the heart. We have many sinful desires in our hearts because we are selfish beings.
There are some people that have evil desires in their heart and their brain is lacking wisdom, so they are going to struggle in life until they search out some wisdom. They will always do the wrong thing because their brain and heart are in agreement and working together. They can accomplish a lot together, but none of it is good.
The rest of us are in another group that are wise enough to know something is right or wrong, but struggle to always do what is right because of our heart’s selfish desires. That is called temptation and we all have it. When temptation arises, our heart and mind go in to battle. Our heart has two main tactics in this fight. First, it may try to get us to ignore what our brain might say about the sin. Second, it sometimes engages the brain and tries to convince the brain that the sin is ok. This is called justifying the behavior. The heart is very strong and can be very persuasive. In order to do the right thing, the brain must be stronger, which is where wisdom comes into play.
The brain must know the difference between right and wrong to stand any chance of beating the heart (don’t be confused here – we still want the heart to keep beating). That wisdom is found in the Bible and it needs to be searched out, but that is just the start. If you want to make sure your brain is strong enough to defeat the heart, you can’t just “know” what is right and wrong, you need to “understand” why it is right or wrong. Understanding comes with a lot of reading, thinking, learning from others, and praying.
Proverbs 7 tells of a story where a man is seduced by a married woman who was not his wife. He gave in to the temptation because he lacked enough wisdom to fight it. He probably knew it was wrong, but he didn’t understand all the consequences. The lost trust and ruined reputation that he may never get back, the pain he caused his family, sexually transmitted diseases, getting the woman pregnant, a broken nose from the husband when he finds out, and the guilt he will feel because he let God down are just some of the reasons why God tells us not to have sex outside of marriage. Once you take the time to understand why something is right or wrong, the brain will be much more powerful and most likely will win the fight against the heart.
But wait, it gets even better. When a brain has enough wisdom and understanding, the brain can convince the heart to change its desires. The heart can be trained to agree with and follow the brain! This is the ultimate goal, and this is why wisdom is so important. James 4:2-3 says that you do not have because you do not ask God. It goes on to say that you do not receive when you ask because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. Simply put, your heart is not right. So, it stands to reason that if your brain convinces your heart using Godly wisdom, you will get what you ask for because your desires will line up with God’s desires. In this case, when the brain and heart are in agreement and working together, they can accomplish a lot together, and it is all good.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+7-9&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 10-12 as we continue seeking God’s wisdom on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
How do you become smart? Are you just born that way? Do you have to go to school to get smart? Proverbs 1:7 says that the beginning of knowledge is to fear the Lord. You will start down a path of intelligence as soon as you fear the Lord. You might be a great doctor or an impressive lawyer that studied a long time to get where you are, but if you don’t fear God, you aren’t that smart. Fear seems like a very odd first step in becoming intelligent, but let’s talk for a second about why that is true.
Why should we fear God? Well, He knows everything, has the power to do anything He wants, has been around forever, made everything, is in control of the whole world, and could squish you like an ant if He wanted to. That is really intimidating! If you are not fearful of someone with that kind of power and control over your life, you probably don’t really believe He exists. If you don’t believe He exists, you’re not very smart. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
The first step in becoming smart is to fear God, but what are the next steps? You may think that certain people are born intelligent, that some people are just naturally smarter than others. That may be true to an extent, but wisdom is not going to just automatically happen for you. Proverbs 2:4 says that you need to search for wisdom and understanding like it is a hidden treasure. It takes the action of searching on your part to become wise. Proverbs 2:2 mentions that you need to make your ear attentive to wisdom and incline your heart to understanding. You need to study the Bible and listen to what it has to say and listen to what wise Christians may also be telling you. You need to open your heart and mind to the possibility of changing your mind and learning from the Bible and others. You may think you already have all the answers and can handle everything on your own, but you don’t and you can’t. Verse 3 goes on to say that you need to cry for discernment and lift your voice for understanding. You should take the time to ask God for wisdom, and not be scared to ask others you can trust for their help or advice.
On a side note, in Proverbs 1:20 it mentions that wisdom is a “she”. Gentlemen, take note of that. I don’t think it is just a coincidence that the author says wisdom is female.
There are many benefits of wisdom mentioned in today’s chapters:
Fear God, search for wisdom, study the Bible, listen to wise Christians, be open to different viewpoints, and ask God for wisdom. That is how you become smart. And once you become smart, you will live longer, have special protection, be at peace, have riches, have honor, and be happy. Seems like the smart thing to do.
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+1-3&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 4-6 as we learn more about wisdom on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 is an often quoted and memorized Bible verse. However, not surprisingly, it is easier said than done. It is easy to say the words, without really thinking about what living out these words looks like.
Trust in the LORD. When I trust in something I can count on it. The dictionary definition of trust is, “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something; to have confidence in (someone or something); to believe that something is true or correct.” All of these definitions need to apply to my trust in God. I must believe that all his promises are reliable and that what he says is true. I must believe that he had the ability to create the world and that he has the strength to stand against my enemies. I need have confidence that he cares for me and believe that his word, the Bible, is true and correct.
There are so many things in this life that I can put my trust in. I can trust my family, my doctor, the government, my pastor, and the list goes one. But over time, all these people will disappoint and let me down. There is only one that is totally faithful and trustworthy, and that is my Heavenly Father. However, if I don’t take the time to get to know God personally, I will never be able to totally trust him.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart. If I truly trust in God, it must be with ALL my heart. If I only trust God some of the time, or with only some things, then I am not trusting God at all. Trust is an all or nothing kind of proposition.
And lean not on your own understanding. I need to let go of what I think I know, and totally rely on God. I must stop trying to be self-sufficient, but instead depend on my Creator and his infinite wisdom.
In all your ways submit to him. Trusting in the Lord requires that I submit everything that I have, and everything that I do to him, all the time, every day. Some versions say, “in all your ways acknowledge him.” I acknowledge him when I feel his presence with me throughout the day, and turn to him for comfort, companionship and guidance.
And he will make your paths straight. When I fully trust God, then he can lead me down the correct path. So often I want to go my own way and do my own thing. I like to be the boss. However, when I am truly trusting in God then I eagerly follow God’s direction.
When I want to know what God’s will in my life is, I only need to trust in him with all my heart, and lean not on my own understanding, but in all my ways submit to him. If I am trusting, leaning, and submitting, then I can be confident that I am following God’s plan for my life.
The wisdom of God is personified as a woman in Proverbs 1:20-33.
20 “Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:”
These verses paint a picture of Lady Wisdom loudly crying out in the middle of the city for people to listen. She is desperately trying to get everyone’s attention. The suggestion here is that God wants everyone to hear and respond to his wisdom. Furthermore, everyone is eventually going to hear the loud calls, and will have to make the decision to either accept or ignore the offer.
Although wisdom is loudly calling out, few are listening to her. The simple, the mockers and the fools are all ignoring her pleas.
22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?”
Many will ignore the calls for wisdom, but the wisdom of God is available to those who do listen and turn from their sinful ways.
23 “Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
I will make known to you my teachings.”
Nobody likes to be rebuked, to be strongly reprimanded, or have their actions criticized. However, God will give understanding and wisdom to those that do repent when they have been rebuked.
Next the attention switches back to all those that continually fail to listen to God’s wisdom and are instead pursuing their own desires.
24 “But since you refuse to listen when I call
and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.”
These verses reiterate that this group of people had the opportunity to listen to wisdom and obey God’s truths, but they instead willingly choose to ignore God. There are consequences for their choices. Notice that these verses state when disaster strikes and when calamity overtakes, not if disaster strikes or if calamity overtakes.
The next passage illustrates the need to seek wisdom before we act. Once we have acted foolishly or sinned, we must face the consequences. Even if we ask for forgiveness and repent, there are often still consequences that we have to face.
28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30 Since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.”
We must wisely choose the correct path so that we can avoid disaster or calamity. Too often we spend so much energy and time trying to get out of tough spots and wiggle our way out of bad situations that were brought on by our own poor choices. We would be far better off to listen to wisdom and avoid these bad situations and tough spots altogether.
The last two verses in the chapter contrast the foolish and the wise man.
32 “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
Failing to follow God’s wisdom has consequences. Consequences now, but ultimately the greatest consequence will be on the final day of judgement. Similarly, wisely following God’s plan does not guarantee a problem free life, but it will give you peace and joy in this life, and most importantly it will ensure a perfect and eternal life in the kingdom.