Proverbs 31 – June 30

CC Image courtesy of on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of 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

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Image generated by

Proverbs 24
Author: April Stephenson

Many of you may be familiar with the website  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?

Proverbs 23 – June 23

Proverbs 23
Author: Bobby Clark

Proverbs Chapters 23 and 24 are a continuation of the collection of miscellaneous “wisdom” sayings with the distinction that most of the proverbs in these two chapters have a lot to say about what not to do – about showing restraint in your daily activities and life pursuits.

In 23:4-5 the writer is admonishing his child to show restraint in the accumulation of wealth since it can very easily “sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” Here today and gone tomorrow.

I recall a time many years ago when we were building a lot of momentum in our business, and I suddenly found myself in possession of a very, very large (at least in the mind and eyes of a kid who grew up in the foothills of the Arkansas Ozarks) bonus check paid out early in the year from the previous year’s results! The check had my name on it!! I quickly began thinking to myself, “Wow!” Followed by a few moments of stunned cranial silence and then again, “Wow! Yesss!! Man I have finally hit the Big Time!! Why, with this kind of money all in one lump sum, I can finally get that Razorback Red Metallic Fleck Ranger Bass Boat from Flippin, AR!” Now my mind is really racing and I quickly added a Ford F150 4×4 with an identical paint scheme – Wow, what a combo!!

In the midst of spending all that money, my wife comes home and asks, “Baby, did you get that bonus check yet?” To which I reluctantly replied, “Uh Huh.” She then said, “I need you to sign the back of the check and give it to me.” My dream was beginning to fade by the second as suddenly a sense of foreboding began to darken the vibrant picture I had held so vividly only moments before. “Why?” I hesitantly inquired. She responded, “Our CPA, (who just happens to be her baby sister) let me know that we made more than we anticipated and we owe much more in taxes to Uncle Sam than we paid in quarterlies.”   “Uh, how much more?” I ventured, thinking surely I can at least salvage the boat, I mean who cares if I have to pull it to the Marina in a bright red Dodge Neon. She then responded with a figure a little larger than the amount of the check!!

Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning, (or rather more appropriately the Holy Spirit was reminding me of a proverb I had underlined many years ago because I thought the imagery was hilarious) “Cast but a glance at riches for they will fly off like an eagle!” which, is my paraphrase of Proverbs 23:4-5 “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. 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.”

With a weary sigh, I signed the check and handed it over. Every bit of that check and a few thousand more dollars, just like that, flew off to Uncle Sam! And don’t think for a moment the irony of the American symbol of the Eagle was lost on me!!

Well, I still do not have a Ranger Bass Boat (of any color) from Flippin, AR … but I do have a big black Ford pick up to pull my wife’s 23 foot Deck Boat from Jacksonville, TX!! Ha, amazing how God knows in advance that a Deck Boat is much, much more practical for hauling a bunch of grandkids around the lake! (Besides, if your wife is not with you …. you can even fish out of it!!)

Proverbs 22 – June 22

CC Image courtesy of Yvette T. on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Yvette T. on Flickr.

Proverbs 22
Author: T. J. Randers

Proverbs 22 – W O W, there are so many Words Of Wisdom found within the 29 verses of Proverbs 22. There is sage advice for each of us throughout this chapter. The verse that stood out to me at this season in my life is verse 6:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (ESV)

I wasn’t sure if the fact that I have 2 daughters (Ellie is 6 years old and Maddie is 19 months old) would get me off the hook on this one. I was hoping it only applied to parents with sons. Alas, I am pretty sure it is universal.

When I first skim the verse, the idea of “training” a child has a very military sound to it, but then I thought of all the different forms of “training” I have participated in during my life. I have participated in sports training, dental school training, and each year I complete continuing education, which often involves training in new techniques or technology. When I look at each of these examples of training, there is a deeper idea that is involved in training. Training is purposeful and intentional, we train to get better at something, as we train we learn by example and repetition of doing things correctly.

It scares me to think that I have a very short window of time of influence over my children so I know I must make it count. I must be intentional about what I teach them – I do not want it left up to somebody else. I must be purposeful about what I teach them, I want them to learn from God’s wisdom, not the world wide web or peers on the playground. I want to encourage them that we always have room for improvement, God does not expect perfection (Grace abounds), but he wants our hearts and our best efforts. I want to be a better example for them, I want them to see consistency from me of trying to be more like Jesus. The effort required to do this is worth it! We are told that by doing so our children will not depart from the path we help them down. This is both daunting and encouraging and leaves me very thankful for the church family and network of support we have at South Plains, let’s work together to “train up” our 1Youngers.

My prayer for each of you reading this is that God will grant you wisdom and strength to train up your children in the way of God and that through that, our children will be faithful throughout their lives. May God continue to bless each of you!

Proverbs 21 – June 21

CC Image courtesy of Leland Francisco on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Leland Francisco on Flickr.

Proverbs 21
Author: Randy Sheets

Proverbs 21 has a number of interesting thoughts to reflect on. Of course there are the usual proverbs stating that the righteous will prosper and the wicked will not. Those that practice justice and work hard will be rewarded while the lazy, corrupt and evil will suffer in the end. We know these are not always absolute, at least in this lifetime, but God has always ultimately rewarded those that do good and punish those who do evil. He will again.

There are even a couple of “better to be…” verses (9 and 19) pointing out that living with a quarrelsome and complaining wife is a miserable experience. Having no personal experience with that situation and having nothing to gain by discussing these verses I will defer any comment!

The last two verses in the chapter discuss the concept that man’s best wisdom or strategy cannot prevail against the Lord and that any victory obtained belongs to Him. This illustrates the power of God that may be unseen but nevertheless prevails. Man’s wisdom is foolishness compared to God’s (I Corinthians 1:18-20). It leads us back to the first verse that tells us that even though a king may feel he is the most powerful man in his kingdom his heart is turned by God to do His will like a stream may be diverted in its course. If we learned anything from our study of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther it is that God can manipulate an earthly king’s heart to do His will!

But the verses I need to focus on are the second and third verses. We too often try to justify our actions in our own sight but need to remember that God is the ultimate judge and His standard will be used to judge us. This is never more evident than in our worship. Saul found out when he disobeyed God that even if his intent was to use the spoils of war to worship God that obedience was a higher priority than sacrifice (I Samuel 15:22). Likewise David, after his sin with Bathsheba, stated in Psalms 51:16 and 17 that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” True worship is grounded in the right attitude towards God and our service to others. As Jesus said:

And to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:33, ESV)