Proverbs 23 – August 23

CC Image courtesy of http://401kcalculator.org on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of http://401kcalculator.org on Flickr.

Proverbs 23
Author: Ralph Beistle

I recently was reminded of my appreciation for those in the medical profession. At my periodic check-up appointment, my doctor ordered an x-ray. I do not know when he received the radiology report, but he called me just before 10:00 p.m. to tell me to go to the ER that night for a CT scan for a more definitive study. After the scan, the ER doctor reported to me at 3:10 a.m. that the potential problem had been ruled out and released me.

At my next appointment, I asked my doctor what the report revealed. He said that he had not requested a report, but a phone call from the ER doctor. I don’t know whether he received that call in the middle of the night or the next day, but the timing of the call isn’t the reason I thought of this story. While reading Proverbs 23, I came across these verses:

Do not wear yourself our to get rich;
do not trust in your own cleverness.
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. (23.4-5, NIV)

Many people think that individuals become doctors to get rich. I beg to differ. I don’t think many would expend the effort, or the thousands and thousands of dollars, solely for the reason that they want to be compensated for the sacrifices made to prepare themselves to practice medicine. I personally would not want to exchange professions with someone who works such long hours that they make 10:00 p.m. calls to patients about whom they are concerned. Add to that the burden of making life or death decisions about some trusting patient’s life. I’m sure glad that some people have that kind of a heart for helping those who cannot help themselves. God bless good doctors!

The principle applies also to others not in the medical professions as well. The point being made in Proverbs 23 has to do with the purpose for which we undertake the roles we have chosen for ourselves. The worst choice for a purpose in life is to get rich and yet the fascination for things money can buy and the allure of riches has ruined many lives through the centuries. Please understand me. I know that having wealth is not bad for us; just having the quest for wealth can be disappointing if that is the sole purpose for our daily lives.

How blessed we are to be able to glorify God by serving others among whom we live daily. And may God bless all those who seek to worship and serve the One who provides us all things.

Proverbs 20 – August 20

CC Image courtesy of jenny downing on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of jenny downing on Flickr.

Proverbs 20
Author: James Osborne

The book of Proverbs is a writing filled with pithy statements on everyday life.. The book gives us sayings of counsel and knowledge. But the writer also understands life can be understood only in part—wisdom has limits. The book certainly does not espouse that one can be wise while ignoring religion—quite to the contrary it argues that a life of insight, self-restraint and care for others will inevitably lead to a kind of faith.

One of the great statements found in the Proverbs is found in chapter 20, verse 27:

“God is in charge of human life,
watching and examining us inside and out.”

This is good news to us as believers. Knowing that a powerful and gracious God is concerned about me and is willing to watch and examine me is reassuring. He also says in verse 24: “The very steps we take come from God; otherwise how would we know where we are going?

Chapter 20 is full of advice and wisdom that can be very helpful as we live our everyday lives, but the author reminds us that God is merciful, omniscient, wise and provides for all that we need.

Proverbs 19 – August 19

CC Image courtesy of Martin LaBar on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Martin LaBar on Flickr.

Proverbs 19
Author: Bob Bailey

So much advice and it seems so random. Well, at least to the modern reader. We know that there are major themes and connections once we begin to read larger sections of Proverbs and take into account ancient cultural context. So, how do we maneuver through this list of seemingly unconnected bits of advice? It is easy to identify the positive and negative attributes and characteristics presented. No one questions that we don’t aspire to be so lazy that we can’t even feed ourselves (vs. 24), or that being a liar is a bad thing. What is at the root of what the writer is trying to say? Does he really want me to work on these individual traits? The answer may be planted a little deeper.

One can work on these characteristics individually, like being slow to anger, or being more generous, but if we miss the reason in vs. 3 that “when a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord,” we also miss that recurring theme in vs. 23: “The fear of the Lord leads to life and whoever has it rests satisfied”.

How many people work on thorn bushes expecting apples? How many people seek fulfillment and find folly because they have the wrong roots in their hearts.  Starting with the right roots (the fear of the Lord) helps us grow in the direction of good branches and eventually the fruit of integrity, good sense, understanding and overlooking the offense of others. When we see questionable fruit in ourselves or others, maybe we should look at our roots.

Proverbs 18 – August 18

CC Image courtesy of Photo Gallery Israeli Ministry of Tourism on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Photo Gallery Israeli Ministry of Tourism on Flickr.

Proverbs 18
Author: JoAnn Long

Where do you run?

In antiquity, cities were walled to keep would-be intruders out and residents safe inside. Towers were strategically positioned along fortifications with watchmen ready to sound the alarm should danger arise. Stalwart enough to have remains of mortar and stone still standing, evidence of once mighty civilizations now lie in ruins across the Mediterranean basin.

Isn’t our human tendency still to put our trust in that which is tangible?

Not unlike our counterparts from the past, we sometimes now look to what can be measured scientifically as our means of hope. While all discovery of that which is good in our material world is ultimately from the hand of God, the writer of Proverbs reminds us that real security is not found in that which can be quantified: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10, ESV, emphasis mine).

What about you? Where do find your security? As God’s people made righteous through Christ, let us humbly run into name of our Lord, our strong tower. For it is Him, and Him alone, in which we are to place our complete trust.

Proverbs 17 – August 17

CC Image courtesy of Margaret Almon on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Margaret Almon on Flickr.

Proverbs 17
Author: T.J. Randers

As we have been reading through Proverbs this summer I have noticed that I can read the same chapter on different days and different verses will stand out based on what is going on in “life” at the time. Today, verse 22 of chapter 17 reminds me of an important lesson. The first half of that verse states: “A joyful heart is good medicine” or “A joyful heart causes good healing.” I try to remind myself when I wake up that I have a choice on what type of lens I want to use to look at things that day and I have found that on those days that I choose to look at things through a joyful lens or a joyful heart that I tend to handle situations better.

I recently read a book that really resonated with me. It is titled The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. It reminded me that one of the things I have control over is my attitude. The bus driver on the Energy Bus is named Joy and her advice throughout the book reflects that. Someone told me once that the source of JOY is putting Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself third. That is very counter-culture, but if we want to be a people different from the world around us, this is absolutely a way to stand out – choose JOY each day! It isn’t easy, but it is a choice that we can make each day. If you choose JOY, you will be rewarded with the benefits of the “good medicine” it provides. I pray that each of you will choose JOY.

Psalm 118:24- “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”.

Proverbs 15 – August 15

0815 - AbeProverbs 15
Author: James German

Abraham Lincoln had a few words to say about how we speak to one another.  He said “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”   I wonder if good ‘ol Abe had been reading Proverbs 15 when he coined that phrase.  Proverbs 15:2 says “…The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly…”  President Lincoln’s advice seems to follow the writer’s thoughts in Proverbs 15.  One of the most powerful tools known to mankind is the tongue.  It can certainly be used to build each other up.  But in this day and age, it seems to be a tool of destruction.  Whether spoken or typed on a social media site, our spoken work has the ability to produce fruit….or the ability to cause great destruction in our relationships.

The writer also speaks of the concept of “discipline”.  “Those who disregard discipline despise themselves.  But the one who heeds correction gains understanding.”  Are we disciplined enough as a people of God to heed instruction and gain understanding when it comes to disciplining our tongue?  Are our words “building others up” or are they “tearing others down”?

I challenge you to read Proverbs 15 again and commit yourselves to taming your tongue.  Use social media to be SALT and LIGHT for God’s kingdom.  And remember our 16th president’s advice.  Better to remain silent…

Proverbs 13 – August 13

CC Image courtesy of FreddieBrown on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of FreddieBrown on Flickr.

Proverbs 13
Author: Gary Evans

After college graduation, our daughter Rebecca spent over a year with a mission team in Uganda, Africa. Within a short time of her return to the U.S., she observed sadly one day that our lives here are so full of “clutter” and lived at such a hectic pace. She stated, “No wonder we cannot be still and know God—-we cannot even be still.”

Among other gems, the blessing of discipline is found throughout this chapter—whether it be the tongue, our lives, or our money.

Verse 3 admonishes this way: “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. Though in a later chapter (17:28), I smile when I read, “Even a fool is thought to be wise if he keeps silent.” I believe discipline begins with our tongue. If our words are reckless, bitter, and cutting (always looking for an opportunity to put someone down thinking it lifts us up), there is no way Jesus can live in our hearts. Remember, what comes from our mouths originates in the heart/mind.

For some of us just being still with a spirit of quietness (and being silent), is a challenge (I know); and we must draw on the power of the Holy Spirit to help us.

Spend one day a month, then two, then one per week, then daily meditating on words from a Psalm or Proverb or Jesus in quietness and solitude. If you will do this consistently (begin with only 5 minutes), you will find that other areas of your life begin to refocus and become more disciplined and your days more fulfilling.

May God bless you as you allow Him to calm your spirit and fill your life with more discipline, purpose, and hope.