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)

Proverbs 20 – June 20

CC Image courtesy of Ed Schipul on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Ed Schipul on Flickr.

Proverbs 20
Author: Daniel Wheeler

One of the early instructions we hear in Proverbs is to keep or protect sound judgment and discretion. There are many things that endanger our sound judgment and discretion and will lead us astray. Some are obvious and some are not.

Proverbs 20 touches on a few of the things we encounter that can deceive us and entice us to act like fools. Alcohol is one of the obvious. We don’t have to look very far to find examples of people who have allowed alcohol to rob them of their sound judgment and have suffered terribly as a result.

Likewise, we can be deceived by others who wish to rob us – for example, dishonest buyers and dishonest sellers. We must be aware of circumstances where people may not be telling us the truth.

Perhaps the most deceptive thing we encounter is our own hearts. Knowing our own hearts and our own motives – seeing our own pride – hearing our own lies – this wisdom and insight can only come from God. Only God can reveal the heart.

Perhaps the most deceptive thing we encounter is our own hearts. [Tweet This]

So, how does God reveal this wisdom? Ironically, it may come in the sincere rebuke of a wise person who wounds us with God’s truth.

May we have the humility to reject deception and accept instruction.

Proverbs 19 – June 19

CC Image courtesy of Kamyar Adl on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Kamyar Adl on Flickr.

Proverbs 19
Author: Luke Anderson

Stop listening to instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19.27, NIV)

If you are ever in our house and listening to our conversations, you will often hear the question: “Why?”

If something doesn’t go our way, our response becomes “Why this?” or “Why that?” I’m sure my parents get tired of hearing this. My sister and I both ask this question and some times the response from my father is “Because I said so”.

We want to think this is a sarcastic or rude response but in reality, this is the honest answer to our complaining. We often leave it at that. But sometimes we push our luck and say: “So? It doesn’t matter. What do you know, anyway?”

My father’s classic response is “When you have lived as many years as I have, let’s talk.” This aggravates us and you can probably see why, but when you think about it, he is so right. He is the smarter one and we are really not thinking when we say these things.

We know the Bible talks a lot about honoring your parents. However, when you are a teenager, you don’t always want to honor your parents. I think all parents that have had teenagers will agree, too often we want our way and to do our stuff.

Truthfully, we are selfish. We want what makes us happy and to do what feels good to us. We think our parents don’t know anything even though they have been around a lot longer and seen way more things then us. They don’t know how the world is now and are behind the times. But this is not true at all! We look at this proverb and discover that once we stop listening, we have moved away from knowledge. We are, as the Proverbs often says, the foolish ones.

This hurts me to say, but sometimes the “oldies” are right. [Tweet This]

Listen to their instruction.

Proverbs 18 – June 18

CC Image courtesy of Anne Worner on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Anne Worner on Flickr.

Proverbs 18
Author: Rob Anderson

The ad on the television promises that a new drug will lower your blood pressure or drop your cholesterol levels. You are amazed at the health benefits this one drug can provide … until you begin to hear the legal disclaimer of potential side effects and problems one may have while taking this medication. Suddenly the drug may not be the cure-all you once thought it was.

Your friend describes a conflict he recently had with a fellow employee. As you listen to him paint the picture of this other employee, you are saddened at how arrogant that employee must be … until you begin to hear, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story. Your friend, you discover, sees the conflict only through the lens of his own self-interest.

The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18.17, ESV)

We want to believe the best in people, we really do. Yet at the same time, others want us to believe the best in them and so attempt to put their best foot forward. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so desire that impression to be a glowing one.

Tweet: Speak slowly, but listen quickly.×13+

The speaker in Proverbs continually seems to state: Speak slowly, but listen quickly. Your first response to those who seek to woo you to their side in a conflict (the NIV uses the word “lawsuit” for the word translated “case” here in the ESV) should be to listen and carefully consider all the evidence presented to you. Do not rush to judgment nor select too quickly any one side. Allow all parties involved to state their observations. Assume the best in both sides, until further examination shows you otherwise.

Love people.

Strive for complete fairness.

Show mercy.

Proverbs 17 – June 17

CC Image courtesy of Katmai National Park and Preserve on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Katmai National Park and Preserve on Flickr.

Proverbs 17
Author: Sarah Roberson

It’s been said that of all the wild beasts, a momma bear is the fiercest. Several years back on a Jr. & Sr. Leadership Retreat for the youth ministry, we led the students on a beautiful hike to the top of a waterfall in the mountains of New Mexico. After reaching our destination and taking in the beauty that was before us, Trent began to speak to group about a topic that for the life of me I could not tell you about.

As Trent reached the climax of his lesson, one of the students in a calm yet stern voice said, “Trent, shut up and turn around!” What stood behind Trent terrified us: a momma bear and her two cubs! The last thing you want to encounter on a hike! Nothing compares to the fury of a momma bear separated from her cubs. Even being in the proximity of the bear and her cubs had us terrified. Proverb 17:12 compares the danger of a fool to that of a momma bear separated from her cub and describes it as being worse! Now that’s an extreme comparison!

So what makes one a fool and how do we keep from becoming the fool? Throughout scripture a fool is never described as someone who lacks intelligence or social status, but rather someone who opts not to obey God’s plan and teachings. Unfortunately, fools surround us and sometimes we encounter them in our own mirrors. The Proverb challenges us to pursue wisdom and obey God and to avoid the path of the fool due to the danger that exists in his path.

The Proverb leads me to reflect on 2 questions:

  • Are there areas in my life in which I’m the fool?
  • How do I avoid the fools path?