Proverbs 31 – June 30

CC Image courtesy of viZZZual.com on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of viZZZual.com on Flickr.

Proverbs 31
Author: Laci Richardson

Proverbs 31 is “The Wife of Noble Character” chapter of Proverbs. Some women read these verses and make a checklist out of them of all the things they must do or ways they must act in order to be an outstanding woman or wife – a checklist of perfection. If you live a life in the shadows of that checklist, what happens when you can’t check something off the list or you have a day where you fail at one of the items?

To me, Proverbs 31 is a beautiful reflection of how a husband adores his wife. He notes the characteristics that make her a wife of noble character who is worth far more than rubies. He is proud of her and wants others to know all the things he respects about her.

I own a business and ministry called P31 Fitness, which name comes from Proverbs 31. I use fitness as a tool to teach women about their worth. I talk about the Proverbs 31 woman in my classes, not as an unattainable goal but as a guide for our lives.

One morning not too long ago, I was leaving to teach my fitness class. There was a card in my seat from my husband, Raymond. There was no special occasion. He had just been thinking about me the night before and had written down some of those thoughts and put the card for me to find. He told me of certain characteristics that he admires about me and things that I do for our family. He didn’t mention any of the times that I had failed in those areas. What he remembered and wanted to honor was that I was striving to follow the Lord. This made me think of the Proverbs 31 passage and how that wife was loved and respected by her husband, not for being perfect, but for following the Lord!

Proverbs 29 – June 29

CC Image courtesy of Travel Aficionado on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Travel Aficionado on Flickr.

Proverbs 29
Author: Ralph Beistle

The writer of Proverbs 29, in rapid succession, instructs his son/student to choose wisely how he proceeds through life in a variety of relationships. The value of making good choices will improve his interactions with other individuals in interpersonal relationships, in family, and even as a citizen of the community. If he were to resist changing his ways (being stiff-necked), he is doomed to failure and suffering. If he hasn’t already decided to seek the ways of wisdom, he needs to “see the big picture” and redirect his course. Wisdom wins – those who lack wisdom lose.

Why would anyone ever decide to change directions from one trend of thoughts, actions, or intentions to another? Possibilities:

  • Change might be imposed on you by a stronger opponent.
  • We might be persuaded by a clever deceiver.
  • We may allow words of flattery to cloud our judgment.
  • We may be unable to resist peer pressure to conform.
  • We may choose to imitate someone whom we admire.
  • Or, with our human intellect and life experience, we may conclude that it is more logical to follow “Plan B” than “Plan A.”

Considering all these methods by which our decision may be influenced, the consistent conclusion must be that these influences tend to reveal our weaknesses – not our wisdom.

The message of Proverbs is that a wise person will choose his decisions based upon the absolute conviction that an all-knowing, loving God will never lead us, teach us, or require us to believe or do anything that would compromise our integrity, deny our joy now, or jeopardize our eternal destiny.

Believing and doing God’s will promises the best life here and the eternal bliss of living with Him eternally when this present life is ended. That is the recurring theme throughout Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Proverbs 28 – June 28

CC Image courtesy of Bernat Casero on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Bernat Casero on Flickr.

Proverbs 28
Author: Raymond Richardson

When I think about the book of Proverbs I think of finances and law. Proverbs is a powerful book because it generally gives the two extreme statements. There are not many grey lines in Proverbs. Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble. (Proverbs 28:14) Open hearts versus closed hearts; blessed versus trouble. This is easy to understand when the author gives these types of comparisons. It shows us exactly where the Godly should be in their spiritual walk with God.

I have always been a fan of Dave Ramsey and his teachings on finance. Our family follows his biblically based principles. Proverbs has so many gems in regards to how a person and a family should manage their finances and how the eyes of their hearts should view money. If we look at Proverbs 28:20 it says, “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished”.

Blessings are the product of honest labor. Just as Abraham was rich in gold, silver, and cattle because he was blessed of God, God will bless you abundantly if you have the faith of Abraham. Abraham was blessed and saved by faith. We are blessed and saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone in a hurry to get rich is taking short cuts. His ways are not pleasing to God, because they are not honest. God will hold him responsible for the way he made his money. Wealth in itself is not evil. Our attitude toward the wealth can be very evil.

Our world seems so full of get-rich schemes and plans. We tend to focus so much on what finances can bring us instead of what finances can do for God’s people. God calls us to be stewards and disciples of His kingdom here on earth. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Proverbs 27 – June 27

CC Image courtesy of Bordecia34 on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Bordecia34 on Flickr.

Proverbs 27
Author: Rob Anderson

All throughout scripture we see examples of the sweetness of honey. Verses like “[The precepts of the Lord] are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb” (Ps 19.10) and “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to me mouth” (Ps 119.103). It is not hard to imagine the pleasure of fresh honey being poured over a warm biscuit. I think all of us have had a moment when we were stuffed full, only to discover we had a little bit more room for a sweet dessert.

This is what makes Proverbs 27.7 so surprising.

One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

Why in the world would someone pass something so sweet as honey, only to find out that someone else would find pleasure in what was bitter? But perhaps it isn’t as surprising as one might think.

Think about the times you have called out to God, when you have really sought him out. What was happening in your life during that time? Many people find that they turn more to God when things are not going well: money is scarce and bills are due, children make choices that grieve our hearts, or perhaps the diagnosis was not favorable. When life is exactly as we think it should be, we tend to forget to call upon God. In reality, we don’t remember we need him when “we” have crafted our lives in just the way they need to be. The challenge to remember God is always harder during the good times.

And so, while we may not loathe him, we certainly forget him. May we always be people who remember the sweetness of the Lord with us.

Proverbs 26 – June 26

Image courtesy of Jana Anderson.

Image courtesy of Jana Anderson.

Proverbs 26
Author: Jana Anderson

We have a fun and happy little dog named Penny, who is sweet and energetic, wags her tail when she sees us, chews on squeaky toys, and generally goes about her day doing typical dog things.

One of those typical dog behaviors isn’t so funny: on long walks, if we are not watching, she will stop and try to consume dog excrement that she happens to spot in a yard or by a tree, as if she were approaching some really exceptional doggie delicacy.

I bet you didn’t expect to read that in your Proverbs devotional, but stay with me, because this (gross) picture of a dog returning to waste is a pivotal metaphor in Proverbs 26, where the writer attempts to show us with a graphic image the nature of foolishness, laziness, and malicious gossip. Make no mistake, the writer says; the consequences of these sins are irrational and repulsive.

Let’s take a closer look.

The writer of Proverbs says that when we act foolishly (v. 1-12), when we are so lazy and sluggish that we can’t even bring our cup to our own lips (v. 15), and when we talk about other people deceptively and enjoy the benefits of being charming in person but speaking maliciously about people in private (v. 17-end), then the writer says that these kinds of foolish, unwise behaviors are just “like a dog returning to his own vomit” (26:11). These behaviors are as unreasonable and illogical as “snow in summer or rain in harvest” (v. 1), or “cutting off one’s own feet” (v. 6), or “shooting deadly arrows [at someone] and saying, ‘I’m only joking’” (v. 18-19).

In other words, the lack of discernment, an unwillingness to work, and delighting in gossip are irrational at best, and in the end, make as much sense as a dog returning to dine on the very things that made it sick.

Proverbs 25 – June 25

Image courtesy of Carter Shuman.

Image courtesy of Carter Shuman.

Proverbs 25
Author: Carter Shuman

Has anyone ever cut to the core with you? You know, really said something that made you quake? Maybe it was something hurtful and you could feel it in your stomach for days. Maybe it was something sad that made your eyes burn in pain. Maybe it was something inspirational that made your heart flutter. One way or another, it had a physical impact on the way you felt. Proverbs 25:15 is a distinct verse playing on the real feeling that happens when someone says something impactful. “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a soft tongue can break a bone”

This verse has two lessons to teach. First, persistence can be key to getting someone to notice the truth. Whenever you are patient in making your point repeatedly even the most distracted person can take notice. So whenever the resistance you meet is a cell phone in front of a teenagers face, keep speaking the same message. Eventually they will take notice of what you have to say.

Secondly a soft speech can move an immovable object. Whenever you speak from a place of true love and caring the hardest heart will soften. Imagine a soft tongue being able to break a bone. It doesn’t really add up. But the truth is, the force your words can have even on the toughest places can be profound and lasting.

Proverbs 24 – June 24

Image generated by wordle.net.

Image generated by wordle.net.

Proverbs 24
Author: April Stephenson

Many of you may be familiar with the website wordle.net.  It is a sight that generates “word clouds” from text that you provide.  There is greater prominence given to words that appear more frequently in the source text.  Out of curiosity, I entered Proverbs 24 into wordle and you can see the results of the word cloud generated. What speaks to you, what do you see? …the larger words? …the positive words? … the white words?  Look closely. Put on those reading glasses to see those little bitty words because they are important too.  When studying scripture I am prone to notice the text that I am familiar with, perhaps the ‘large’ ‘positive’ ‘white’ words. Lately I have been challenged to seek the Spirit’s guidance to identify the part of the passage that God desires me to see.  That happened recently while reading Proverbs 24.

Look with me at verse 10:

“If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.” (NKJV)

“If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength.” (NIV)

“If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.” (MSG)

Did you notice?  Did you hear it? “you, your, you, your, you, you”

There it was for me – in black and white: ME, ME, ME — I faint, my strength is small, I falter, I fall to pieces…then I heard the whisper “April, MY strength.” It is about relying on HIM.  HE does not faint, HE does not falter in a time of trouble, HE does not fall to pieces in a crisis.  It is HIS strength I need, HIS strength I claim, HIS strength HE offers all day everyday.  I’m so thankful to see/hear/have God’s wisdom, instruction and strength.

I would like to encourage you to ask for the Spirit to speak to you. Go ahead, reread Proverbs 24.  What does God desire for you to see/hear/have today?