God is in Control, Proverbs 16

Today’s chapter seems to have a theme just like some others we have read. The common denominator seems to be that man has his own ideas about how things are going to go, but God knows the truth. Take the first four verses for example:

  • To a man belong the plans of  the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.
  • All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.
  • Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
  • The LORD works out everything for his own ends…

The chapter goes on to extol the virtues of trusting in God and yielding to his way. We see echoes of chapters 1-9 in verses like 16 How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding the than silver!

As a believer in Jesus, it’s important for me to realize that I do have free will to make my own decisions, but God is working out everything for his purposes. In the end it’s really all about God and not me.

Verses 11and 33 sum it up best:

  • Honest scales and balances are from the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of his making.
  • The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

Answer Gently, Pr. 15

As I’m writing this early one morning, I am again struck by the very first verse in today’s passage. We are continuing our journey through this wisdom book and I am being challeged at every turn. This is why I like reading this book over and over, because I am always seeing something new, always seeing something in a different way.

So let’s dive into verses 1 and 2:

  • A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

It kind of seems like these two verses go together. They both talk about the tongue and watching what we say and how we say it. I think of my kids when I read these verses. The times I can give a calm, rational answer to their questions, things tend to go smoothly. But when I let my tiredness show through annoyance or impatience, it’s all down hill. The crying and the anger and the fighting are next.

Same things with the second verse. When I speak controlled, loving words to them, it builds them up and encourages them. But at the end of a long day of potty training, let’s say for example, the words that pour out of me aren’t always   positive and encouraging .

Pair that thought withverse 28:

  • The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

So at the end of the day when I’m tired and annoyed at my daughter’s lack of progress in using the potty, I tend to spout off without filtering what I’m saying. I wouldn’t call it evil, but it definitely is words said in frustruation and not in love.

So today I’m going to medite on verse 1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

 

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Wise Women Build their House, Pr. 14

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. I could stop right there today. While seemingly simple on the surface, this verse covers all kinds of issues. When I read this verse I stop and ask myself some questions like:

  • How do I spend my time? Am I watching too much tv? What am I watching on tv? What am I reading? Do I read the Bible regularly? or has something else crept  in and taken its place? Am I keeping an orderly house? Do I have a meal plan for the week? Does my husband come home each evening to calm and a warm meal? or does he walk into chaos?
  • Am I spending focused time with the children? How do we spend our time? Am I telling them about Jesus? Teaching them about him? Am I demonstrating obedience? honesty? grace? faithfulness? Am I showing them self-control through potty training and tantrums?
  • Who are my friends? Who is influencing me? Godly women? or people who are not living for the Lord? Married people? or those who think marriage is a joke?
  • How do I make decisions? Do I poll my friends? Wait on the Lord? Pray? Ask strangers what they would do?
  • What other things am I pursuing? Things that lead to health? Things that move me toward Jesus? or things that are leading me away?

It doesn’t take much to be headed down the wrong path. Just one tiny poor decision today can lead to another little poor decision tomorrow and so on. It’s important for me as a wife and mommy to keep my focus on the right things and not get distracted by anything else.

It’s kind of like living in a bubble. I still live in the world and deal with real things, but I just have to learn how to ignore the lesser stuff around me in order to stay focused on what is most important.

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Wisdom & Righteousness from Proverbs 13

One of the things I love most about this book is that the author did not expect me to get the main concepts the first time, or the second or even the third time. Instead, he reinforces them again and again throughout the book using the same words, or different words or different illustrations.

Take wisdom for example. We have already had verse after verse dealing with this all-important topic, but here are some more:

  • v1, A wise son heeds his father’s instruction
  • v10, wisdom is found in those who take advice
  • v 14, the teaching of the wise  a fountain of life
  • v 20, he who walks with the wise grows wise

That last one in particular reminds me of the verse from 12:26 A righteous man is cautious in friendship.

Another of our favorite themes is righteousness. Consider these verses:

  • v5 The righteous hate what is false
  • v6 Righteousness guards the man of integrity
  • v9 The light of the righteous shines brightly
  • v21 prosperity is the reward of the righteous
  • v22 a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous
  • v25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content

And I can’t close today without looking at a verse that has garnered its share of criticism over the years. Verse 24 says He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. Does that give us free rein to beat our children? Of course not. But it does seem to speak of the rod of discipline either real or figuratively.

Proverbs 12

A couple of things really jumped out at me this morning while I was reading and praying. First is again I’m struck with the simplicity and directness of this book. Secondly, I love the applicability.

Take the first verse, Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. Now in my house, we don’t use the word stupid and we rarely used the word hate. And if one of us adults slips up and says stupid, even the littlest of the little people will loudly proclaim, “MOM! We don’t say stupid!” But let’s face it, some things just are.

One of those things is being so proud that I can’t take any kind of correction. I used to be so prideful about pretty much everything. But now I know how much I don’t know and relish learning and growing.

Verse 4 says A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. Oh my. Those are strong words to me, a wife. A crown versus decay. Hmmmm. Big difference. The first brings honor and joy to her husband, the second death. I know early in our marriage his bones must have been rotting, but I have worked hard every day since then to be a crown to him. This verse reminds me that it does matter, though, what I do and who I am away from him. It does matter how I spend my time even if he is traveling on the other side of the world.

Finally, verse 26 says A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. I don’t know about you, but I am so careful about who my friends are. And even though God has surrounded me with friends whom I both admire and adore, I still have to be careful to keep my eyes on God and not on them.

Sometimes calling a friend is easier than praying, honestly. Sometimes I want that immediate response or someone to commiserate with me. But I have to be sure God is still my focus.

Can you relate to any of this stuff? or is it just me? Have a great day.

The Righteous, Proverbs 11

Today’s set of 31 verses have a lot to say about righteousness. Consider just a few

  • v.4 righteousness delivers from death
  • v 5. the righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them
  • v 8. The righteous man is rescued from trouble
  • v 10. when the righteous prosper, the city rejoices
  • v. 19. the truly righteous man attains life

and so on. So what is righteousness? and why is it so important? Well righteousness is being free from guilt and sin. How’s that you say? Wasn’t Jesus the only one free from sin? Absolutely. But when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are covered by his blood and he no longer sees our sin but instead sees that we are covered under his blood.

So why is this important? God is so holy that he cannot look on sin. He loves us and even died for us, but our sin is detestable to him. So it is only through his sacrifice that we become acceptable to him.

One other verse that hits me every time I read this chapter is verse 22.

  • Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

So what is discretion? It is the quality of having or showing discernment or good judgment: the quality of being discreet: circumspection; especially: cautious reserve in speech. To me, this is one of those verses that shines a big spotlight on our culture. We have lost any sense of discretion. It is increasingly sad to see women’s bodies and bodily functions be the source for sitcom humor.

Taming the Tongue Chapter 10

Ok, well we have officially moved out of the the Wisdom and Folly verses for now and are starting on the first of ten plus chapters of some 375 total verses that were selected from a much larger grouping. Today’s chapter doesn’t seem to have a particular rhyme or reason but I do see a pattern.

Many of the 32 verses deal with the lips, mouth and words coming out of them. Consider verses 18 and 19 for example:

  •  He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.
  • When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

There are many more like that in this short chapter reminding us again and again and in different ways to watch what we say, why we say it and how we say it.

All of this talk about talking reminds me of James chapter 3:1-12. Consider verse 6:

  • The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Pretty convincing argument to watch what we say, huh? Ephesians 4:29 is a good guide:

  • Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Have a great day.

Wisdom vs. Folly, Proverbs 9

Well here we are in the final showdown of these two opposing forces. We have spent the past 8 chapters together learning that

  • Wisdom is the highest good
  • Folly leads only to death
  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom
  • Knowledge of the Holy One is understanding
  • Folly, by contrast, is loud, undisciplined and without knowledge

Today’s 18 verses place Wisdom and Folly side by side in a final showdown of sorts. Both call out to any simpletons within the sound of their voice to come and enjoy their company. We have already learned that the result of visiting with Folly is death and the result of visiting with Wisdom is life.

Verse 12 may best sum up this section If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

I want to choose Wisdom. I want to walk with wise friends and wise people so I can become wise. I have spent years of my life walking with Folly on the path that lead to the death of my soul, my dreams and all my other relationships. I don’t want to do that every again. But I cannot make that choice without Jesus. Without a healthy fear of him, I can have no wisdom or knowledge or understanding.

Wisdom’s Call from Proverbs 8

In chapter 7, we were hit hard with the way in which the adulteress operates. After being reminded once again to fear the LORD and keep his words and commands, the author illustrates why hiding those things in our heart is so important by telling us all about her and her disgraceful ways.

Well today, we get to hear from Wisdom not as an idea, but personified as a person. She claims that although Folly calls out to those who lack judgement, she is crying out to those same people. 

  • You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding.
  • Listen, for I have worthy things to say;
  • My mouth speaks what is true
  • All the words of my mouth are just
  • To the discerning all of m are right;
  • Choose my instruction instead of silver

And on and on it goes. Hear how she is trying to convince the crowd to choose her over Folly? Folly appears more fun and more exciting. She may even be better-looking. But in the end following her leads to death

On the other hand, those who choose to follow after Wisdom are promised life through good choices, discernment and righteousness.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Writing this this morning, I can surely see that these are the two paths from which we can choose from even today. We can follow the path of Folly and realize too late we have slowly but surely been moving away from God. Or we can follow the path of Wisdom that leads to God and life. I know which one I’m choosing. How about you?

The Adulteress in Proverbs 7

While we have discussed the adulteress in earlier chapters, chapter 7 of Proverbs dives right in and doesn’t mince any words. This collection of 27 verses is short, sweet and to the point. Verses 2 through 5 remind us again what’s important in any and every situation. And what is that?

  • 2 Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
  • 3 Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.
  • 4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding  your kinsman;
  • 5 they will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with seductive words.

That about sums it up, wouldn’t you agree? But no. The rest of the chapter illustrates an encounter between an adulteress and a “youth who lacked judgment”. The text is pretty clear about her part, his part and the end result.

Even though I stay at home all day with my children and maybe have less opportunity for situations like this, I still have to be so careful what I let into my heart and my head. Soap operas allow unrealistic expectations for love and romance. Romance novels do the same thing. While I live in the real world with real people, some who believe and some who don’t, I need to be careful who my friends are.

Verse 11 in particular speaks to me. She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home. I have had to learn how to be content in my home and more importantly, how to stay busy at home. Once we started having children, my running around was seriously curtailed. At first, that change was very difficult for me. But now I am happy at home and stay busy.

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