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ONE FALSE TURN…
It was a new car with a new navigation system, and we were living near the top of a mountain. We were told that our home was well over 5,500 feet above sea level. To reach our front steps was a major driving project. The road twisted and turned and included several “switchbacks” – instant “U” turns. At times it seemed as though the turns were much tighter than a paper clip.
As we sat and struggled to program our “nav system” before beginning this journey, our hearts beat with excitement. It was a new experience, and we were anxious to learn if it worked. After many mistakes and several minutes, a voice “came from the clouds” and said: “Proceed to the nearest major highway.” It was frightening! What next, we thought.
As we started down the mountain, the little arrow that was intended to point us in the direction started to go around in circles. It was spinning as though it could not determine where we were to go. This was certainly not a “confidence builder.” But, we started down the mountain, twisting and turning, and when we arrived at the highway, that same voice said, “Turn right and proceed 7.4 miles to Highway 16, and left on Highway 21.” It was correct, and our faith grew.
Trust and confidence are the most critical factors when looking for directions – especially our directions for life. Solomon assured us that “the integrity of the upright guides them.” To live with Integrity means that we are obedient to all of the commands and directions in the Bible.
Consider Joseph: He was a man of great integrity, yet suffered greatly for being obedient. In the end, however, he was able to say: “God meant it for good! Look at these results!”
Prayer: Guide us and guard us, Lord, and give us courage to be obedient as we seek and follow Your way. Fill us with Your Spirit who will protect us from evil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
DISGRACE OR WISDOM: OUR CHOICE
The word “pride” seems to be closely connected to those who are arrogant or who have an unreasonably elevated opinion or value of themselves. It presents a picture, in our minds, of one who looks down on others with an attitude of superiority or condescension. Often, we look at those whom we consider “full of pride” as also being “full of themselves and their abilities.” They cannot see God as the giver of every gift they have. In Hebrew, “pride” comes from a word meaning “to boil” and when water boils, it must be channeled or there will be an explosion.
A person of “humility” is one who is seen as being submissive to authority, compliant and willing to listen, observe, and learn. A humble person does not attempt to keep others from being recognized or rewarded for what they have accomplished. Their modesty gives God credit for what He has done through them. And, they also understand that all things come from God and, in all reality, belong to Him.
Is it any wonder, then, that Solomon says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom.” If we see ourselves as being above and beyond others, as possessing more ability and knowledge than others, more of anything and everything that others have, we find no room for growth and our need for wisdom, especially God’s wisdom. We “have it all together.” No wonder the proud end up in disgrace – they cannot see who or what they are.
But the humble? They are open, honest, able, and willing to recognize their need for God’s guidance and His wisdom. They desire to know Him and be like His Son!
Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize our limitations, temptations, and failures, and to depend on You to meet our needs for wisdom and guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom.
There is a theme throughout the Old Testament that needs constant attention: God will not tolerate business practices that are dishonest, false, or even questionable. It has its roots in the Law, is emphasized by the prophets, and has a place of prominence in Wisdom Literature.
In Biblical times the phrase “dishonest scales” was used and meant “scales of deceit.” Also used was the phrase “a just weight” or “an accurate” or “perfect stone.” Merchants used “stones” as measures in place of coins and conducted their businesses by using balances and weighted stones. It was common knowledge that merchants had two sets of stones: one for selling and one for purchasing goods. When purchasing products for selling, they would use the heavier stone to gain an advantage over the person who was selling them goods to be resold. When selling their product to others, they would use the lighter stone, which resulted in the customer getting much less than what was paid for. Each stone was labeled, so the merchant knew he had the advantage.
Doing business like this was an “abomination to the Lord,” was unacceptable to Him, and one He would not tolerate. On the other hand, “an accurate weight” found “favor with Him.”
This comes as no surprise to His faithful. God will honor and bless those whose life is consistent with His ways, His Word, and in agreement with His teachings. He will “favor” them.
Remember, the lives of those who profess to be His followers are always under His surveillance. He will honor their faithfulness to Him for the way they honor and treat others.
Prayer: Convict us, Lord, when we are less than honest in any of our ways. May we live lives that honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:1 The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.
FOCUSING ON THE FUTURE
“The way of the Lord” is a phrase that appears quite frequently in the Bible – most often in the Old Testament. Each time it appears, it is to be viewed as a “path” that God has laid out for His followers, or a path that winds through history as God deals with an individual, a nation or all of mankind.
Solomon wrote that “The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but is a ruin of those who do evil.” It is important for us to understand that “God is a refuge” only for those whom he holds blameless – or those who walk in His way! With great trust, we accept Him and believe that only in Him, with Him, and through Him can we find a place of refuge, now and throughout eternity.
God deals with each of us individually and as nations united by a common government. So, those who walk in His righteousness will always find a place of refuge in His grace and mercy because of His love. Evil and evil ones may surround and govern us, but as long as we remain faithful to Him, He will remain faithful to us. We have His Word and His record of faithfulness that His peace, security, and comfort will always be our refuge.
The key to the promise of this verse is strictly an if/then. If we walk in the way of the Lord and have as our primary goal in life to be blameless or righteous, we can then be confident that He is and will be our refuge. We can count on Him at all times, under any condition for His peace and protection. However, if our ways are evil, we are then warned well in advance that His judgment awaits us.
Prayer: Father, Your Word is clear: we can only expect You to be our refuge if we are faithful. Give us strength! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but is a ruin of those who do evil.
WE HAVE OUR LIMITS
Solomon makes no apology when he writes: “The blessing of the Lord, it makes one rich.” That is the literal translation of the verse: “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth.” When he wrote that powerful statement, he made it abundantly clear that our resources – no matter how abundant they may be – are “limited” by God. It is the Lord who is faithful and who has the final word on riches, who gets them and when they will get them.
No matter how hard we try, how many hours we work, what we do or the skills we possess, we – in and of ourselves – cannot produce wealth. All the wealth in the world cannot make one “rich.” If God does not add His blessing to whatever we have we are, in His sight, poor. On the other hand, one may have none of this world’s goods, yet be rich. How can this be? Rich but not rich? Poor and yet rich? It certainly seems to be contradictory.
But it isn’t. Rich is in the eye of the beholder.
Throughout his Proverbs, Solomon warns us that if we get the “riches” of this world through methods that are dishonest or deceitful, unfair and unjust, many problems will come with them. These problems may range from psychological to physical, legal to financial, personal to interpersonal or relationship issues. Godly living, God-honoring work, and God-centered practices bring joy and satisfaction, peace and true prosperity with them to those who live for the Lord and live righteous lives.
God’s riches come with God’s blessings. And, His blessings are readily available, worry-free, come without guilt or fear of being exposed and shamed from having harmed others.
Prayer: Father, may all that we do, bring blessings, honor, and glory to Your name. May we seek Your “riches.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.
“If it works, don’t fix it!”
Most of the time our heart works well, and we rarely pause to think about it. Each day our hearts beat about 100,000 times. It sends 2,000 gallons of blood surging through the veins of our bodies, nourishing our organs and tissues. Although it is no bigger than our fist, it keeps blood flowing through 60,000 miles of vessels that wind through our muscles and flesh, and is held together by our porous skin. It is the controlling force of our lives. When it fails, life ends.
The heart, in the Bible, is recognized as the center of our emotions, rational and irrational thoughts, our wills and desires. In the Bible, the heart is the “seat” of the entire personality.
And, the heart, as described in the Bible, can be our most fundamental problem. What we store, keep or hide in our heart, is what we become and who we really are.
So, as long as we “keep our mouths shut” we can deceive others. But, unfortunately, that does not seem to be possible. In the blink of an eye or a moment in time, we “let our guard down” and our true “self” becomes exposed to the world. We are “found out.”
Solomon wrote that “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.” Jesus said, “How can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
We hear amazing stories about surgeons who are skilled at “heart transplants.” But a heart transplant does not correct the problem of evil. Only Christ can correct that problem. So, He does not transplant hearts. He transforms hearts. When that happens, lives change.
Prayer: Lord, come into and rule our hearts so others will know that Your Son, our Savior, rules our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
WHO ARE THE “REAL” HEROES?
It is fascinating to walk through any community or mall – or even down a city street – and noticing the vast number of football jerseys that people of all ages and sexes wear. The names and numbers of their “heroes” vary as much as the sizes and shapes of the persons wearing the jersey.
And, the dollar amount of this way of “identifying” with an athlete is growing. In 2015, four years ago, the total amount of money spent on sports clothing was more than six billion dollars.
Sadly, many of those names and numbers represent felons, drug addicts, wife or child abusers, murderers, and violent criminals. Yet, their names and numbers are held in high esteem, even worshiped, because of their accomplishments in their area of sports.
Walk through a mall or down any street and count the number of individuals wearing a T-shirt that has the name of Jesus or Paul or Stephen or Jeremiah written across the front or back. Only now and then will a T-shirt appear with some reference to something Christian on it. Sadly, too, its message is usually unclear or confusing to the non-believer.
Solomon talked about “heroes” who “walked” Godly lives. “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to a godly life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” What a timely, challenging verse to identify the criteria for a hero. People look for, want, and even need heroes. Where can we find “heroes for Christ?”
Hopefully, in His disciples. “By their fruits you will be able to identify them.”
Prayer: Lord, we can’t hide who we are or what we believe or our values. May our lives represent You well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to a godly life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
ALL SEEDS ARE NOT THE SAME
“What are you planting?” asked the salesman of the elderly gentleman.
“Seeds,” said the old farmer, rather nonchalantly.
“Of course they’re seeds. I can see that. I’m not dumb or blind,” he said with a bit of sarcasm in his voice.
“Well, if you are so interested, hang around for a few months and see what comes up. You might be surprised. Might even be something you like,” came the reply.
Planting seeds and gardening is a craft. It is done with care and concern. Nothing is left to chance, and the only uncontrollable aspect of farming is the weather.
“The wages of the righteous is life,” wrote Solomon, “but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.” The word “wages” in this verse comes from the agricultural world and describes the crop or yield that is gained at the time of harvest. Earnings are the result of work. But both have a similar meaning: Our lifestyle and way of living have implications far beyond the moment. Righteousness brings a fulfilling life now, and after this life – eternal life with God. The alternative lifestyle, unrighteousness, is one of sin and leads to death – eternal separation from God.
Our God is a just God and will reward each of us for the “seeds” we plant. Our old farmer knew what the crop would be from the seeds he planted. He didn’t have to wait and be surprised at harvest time. Neither do we.
God’s Word leaves no doubt about sowing seeds and the coming harvest. “Do not be deceived,” is God’s warning, “for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.”
Prayer: Father, may we examine our lives in light of your Word and plant “seeds of righteousness” each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:16 The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.
IS THE WORD “LOVE” A COVER-UP?
“Do you know what today is?” Mary, my wife, asked.
“Of course. It’s Tuesday,” I replied.
“Well, is it anything more than Tuesday? Does it have a number and is there a month that goes with that particular number?” she asked with a faint smile.
Looking at my watch, I said, “It’s October 24. Almost time for Halloween.” And that did it.
First, came tears. Then, a few more words about forgetting important things – like birthdays. Then more tears. Not only was I embarrassed, but I was also humiliated that I forgot such an important date and event.
“But, I do love you. And that should make up for it,” I said, thinking of the words of Solomon: “Love covers all wrong.” But does it?
Love, God’s love, is the center of every relationship – beginning with loving Him. And when we learn to love Him as He loves us, it will have a preeminent place in our lives. It will be visible to all who know us – especially those in our lives that are special to us. They will be more than a name or number: they will be blest because we love them.
The love that Solomon describes here is a love that “draws in and unites.” It invites people into our hearts and then bonds them to us as closely as two pieces of Velcro.
We cannot use the word love as a “cover” when we do something wrong – as though we want the other person to feel guilty. True love, God’s love, anticipates a need long before it surfaces. It remembers the needs of others – because we all have similar needs. However, true love – God’s kind of love – reaches out to others as God reaches out to each of us.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to be sincere and honest and pure when we say, “I love you!” May our love match Yours, in our deeds as well as words. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.
WHY LIVE A LIFE OF INTEGRITY?
“Why” is a question that most of us try to avoid. It usually makes us focus on what we are doing, demands careful thinking, choice responses, and clear reasoning. It makes us refine our thoughts to give us the assurance that what we are doing or thinking is right.
Solomon makes a profound statement when he says, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.”
It is normal to want to feel “secure” as we go about life. “Secure” implies that we are able to face life as it comes, knowing that God is present in our lives and will provide whatever we need. Being “secure” eliminates fear and the anxiety that accompany it. And, if we want that feeling of security that only comes from God, Solomon says that we must “walk in integrity” or “live without compromise or corruption.”
For some, that sounds impossible. We think about our past attempts to honor God in all things. We want to be an example to others as Jesus was: a witness of God’s grace, a helper to those in need, a friend to the lonely, and an encourager to the sick and suffering. But we allow things to get in our way and we “fall short” of who God wants us to be and who we, in fact, want to be. And, therein lies the secret: it’s all about what we desire.
If our innermost desire is to bring all of our life into harmony with God’s Word, His will, and His ways, and if we consciously submit our lives to Him and live for Him, He will give us His security. We have nothing to fear if our deepest desire is to know Him and make Him known.
Prayer: Father, the world makes many promises it cannot keep. But we have Your Word that never fails. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.