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THE IMPORTANCE OF GRAY HAIR
Hair care products have become a major industry in most developed countries in the world. In fact, in 2018, men spent more money on hair care products than on shaving products. It’s not that beards are becoming more popular. It’s simply the fact that “manscaping” or “anti-aging” products for male hair care have increased very dramatically.
Evidently, hair care was not important to Solomon. But gray hair was. “Gray hair is a crown of splendor, it is attained by a righteous life,” he once wrote. He also wrote that “gray hair is a crown of glory.”
Looking for Solomon in a men’s hair care salon, no doubt, would be a waste of time. He would probably be found at his desk pouring over the law and prophets looking for wisdom and insight. And for good reason.
Throughout the book of Proverbs, there is an important theme: the righteous are rewarded with a long life! How times have changed. Today, bodybuilding and “flat-abs” are much more important than understanding the word of God. Mirror-lined walls in health clubs are everywhere. They are filled night and day with individuals who want to “tone-up their muscles” by weight training and other forms of bodybuilding.
There is nothing wrong with caring for our bodies. They are the temple of the Holy Spirit. But if we neglect the importance of “soul-building,” what good would the most perfect body be if it was not dedicated to the glory of God to bring men and women into His Kingdom?
Prayer: Father, help us to care for our bodies and use them to bring honor and glory to Your name! May we be more concerned with what’s inside than the outside! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor, it is attained by a righteous life.
RIGHT WAY – WRONG WAY
“Have you ever made the same mistake twice?” he asked.
“What is this,” I asked in a taunting voice, “a trick question?”
“No, I’m serious. You’re a doctor; you’re supposed to be smart. I was just wondering,” was his response as he shook his head.
“Of course I have,” I replied. “In fact, I’ve made the same mistake several times.”
“You have?” he responded in surprise. “I really thought you were smarter than that. I’m shocked.”
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has repeated a mistake more than once. And it doesn’t make me feel comfortable to think about it, either. But it’s true.
Perhaps that’s why Solomon wrote the same Proverb twice: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.” We need to be reminded of this fact.
There is an inherent danger in being successful: we tend to “think of ourselves more highly than we should.” It’s easy to do. We have a new opportunity, or there are some new challenges, and we “rise” to the occasion. We get a new burst of energy, we are excited about a second chance, and we are off and running, believing that we will succeed! No limits for me!
And, that’s the time we need to pause and remind ourselves that “There is a way that may seem right…” It’s very important to acknowledge the sovereignty of God and to admit our own limitations. When things go well, we must thank God for blessing us and give Him the credit. When they don’t, we need to be aware that God is trying to get our attention.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for this reminder. All too often we give ourselves credit when the glory is all Yours! May we do what we do through Your guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.
TRUST AND OBEY
Knowing who or what to trust may be difficult. It may be the result of having someone disappoint us or take advantage of us. None the less, trust once lost, is often costly and difficult to regain.
Years ago a mother and father sat in my office and asked, “Dr. Guido, in light of what our son has done, will we ever be able to trust him again? He has disappointed us time and time again. He has lied to us and he has stolen from us and he has betrayed us. How can we ever believe what he says is true?”
My heart ached as they looked at me. They loved their son dearly. They made many sacrifices on his behalf. They sent him to the best schools and took him to church when he was young. But a gradual change came over him, and they did not know what to do.
After thinking a few moments I replied, “Yes, once we lose trust in someone we love dearly, it causes problems that are difficult to overcome. But, there seems to be one principle that might help you. It begins with keeping our promises. If I say and do it, that’s me keeping my word, and you can begin to trust me. If I say it and don’t do it, I’ve not honored my word, and old doubts will return. The past will invade our minds and hearts, and trust will become more difficult than ever. Keeping my word is the only reason you would have to trust me.”
“Blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” We know that we can trust the Lord because He has always honored His word. If He said it, He did it – time and time again!
Prayer: How blest we are, Father, to know Your Word and place our trust in You. Your record of doing what You said You would do is revealed in Your Word. Thank You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:20 –Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
THE REWARDS OF ARROGANCE
“Warning: Construction work next 10 miles.”
Most of us have seen road signs that warn us of impending dangers. Wise motorists follow their warning if they want to be safe. Careless ones normally take risks to prove they make their own rules and create their own destiny. The attitude that “Rules were made to be broken” suggests that they can get away with the limits and boundaries of life.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” is a warning that is well worth admitting. There is little doubt that one of the most fundamental foes Christians face is pride. In fact, Solomon stated in verse five that “The Lord detests all the proud of heart!” Pride, once it invades our hearts, is often the beginning step in walking away from God. Pride will destroy us because it cancels the first rule of wisdom: “The fear of the Lord.” Pride and an attitude of humility and our complete dependence on God, cannot exist in the same heart.
It is well worth noting that the word “destruction” carries with it a picture of the shattering of a bone. When our hearts become filled with pride and we no longer see the need for God to be at the center of our lives, all of our dreams and visions will be shattered and destroyed.
A good way to understand the word “haughty” is to think of the “woozy” feelings that come with being “dizzy.” Life becomes blurred, steps uncertain and unsteady, and will eventually lead to a fall. Warning: pride is lurking in the depths of your heart! “Forewarned is forearmed.”
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to understand the subtle power of pride. May we become dependent on You to guide us, guard us, and give us an attitude of humility. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
THE HIGHWAY OF LIFE
My Dad worked for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for nearly fifty years. He was responsible for maintaining over 200 miles of railroad tracks. Part of the tracks ran from the docks of the harbor on Lake Erie to a steel mill that was the largest manufacturer of pipe in America. Although the distance from the harbor to the steel mill was only a few miles, the tracks formed an intricate system of switches and tracks that had to be carefully laid out and spaced for the engines, coal cars, and iron ore cars to pass each other safely.
One evening when he returned from work, he was visibly shaken. He sat quietly and said nothing. All of the family knew that something serious had happened and we knew not to ask questions. When he was ready to talk, he would tell us the story.
Finally, he said, “We had a terrible accident in Elyria today. The men who worked there did not prepare the “bed” properly for the tracks, and they gave way today. The engine fell over on its side and killed the engineer.” Someone failed to take the time to lay the foundation and build the bed strong enough for the trains to pass safely. That engineer did not have to die and leave his family. Someone failed in their duty, and it cost the engineer his life.
“The highway of the upright avoids evil, he who guards his way guards his life,” wrote Solomon. The word “highway” refers to a raised roadway that is carefully groomed and maintained. We “groom” our highway when we read God’s Word, pray, and seek His way.
Prayer: Father, help us to be aware of the foundations we establish. May we be sensitive to the importance of guarding each step by walking the way Your Son did. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:17 The highway of the upright avoids evil, he who guards his way guards his life.
James had unwrapped all of his birthday presents except one. It was a small truck that had a bubble of plastic over it that was sealed to a piece of cardboard. He tried desperately to separate the plastic from the cardboard but had no success. Initially, he thought he could separate the two by trying to slip his small fingernail between them. But his nail was too short. Then he tried to carefully squeeze the plastic to see if it would “open up” enough space for him to get his hand on the truck. That plan failed, too. Then he put the plastic bubble on the table and pushed on the cardboard thinking that was the solution. Frustrated, he looked at the little truck with teary eyes. It was a prize that became more valuable each time he tried to unwrap it.
Then he looked up at his Dad and asked, “What can I do to get my truck out of the box?”
“Well,” said his Dad, “you could ask me for help.”
Every plan that James had and tried failed. They all seemed sensible to him, but when he tried to make them work, nothing happened. Then he lifted his eyes and found someone who would help him to achieve his goal successfully.
“In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” is great wisdom, worth accepting, and constantly applying. We may design detailed, thorough plans to reach our goals, but when we attempt to make them work with our own strength, applying our own wisdom, we will become frustrated and discouraged when they fail. It’s essential to include the Lord in the praying and pre-planning stage, and then work with Him until they are fulfilled.
Prayer: Lord, we all want to succeed in everything we do. May we recognize how critical it is to always include You in everything we do, from the beginning to the end. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:9 In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
FOR GOD’S GLORY
Nearly everyone in our organization had a difficult time working with Gustav. He was born and educated in Germany and continually challenged everyone about any and everything. It was not so much that he thought he was smarter or superior to us, but he relentlessly made everyone think about what they were doing. For him, everything had to have a purpose.
“Why are you doing that?” he would ask. Or “What good will that do?” And, if those questions were not answered to his satisfaction he would ask the ultimate and most difficult question of all, “What’s the purpose of what you are doing?” It was like working with small children who asked endless questions because they did not understand what was going on.
Eventually, we came to respect “Gus.” He forced us to be certain that everything we did had a purpose. If not, we were wasting time that would be lost forever.
“The Lord works out everything for His own purpose – even the wicked for a day of disaster,” wrote Solomon. Whatever we do and wherever we are is an important part of the plan that God has personally designed for each of us. We must always remember that everything is under God’s control. Whatever is, is because God allowed it. Even evil things done by evil men fit into His plan and purpose. Their deeds are a result of their choices, and God will not allow them to escape His judgment or wrath. Wrong does not become right until God intervenes.
Paul explained it well: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.” Ultimately, we will see His purpose in everything.
Prayer: Lord, may we always be mindful that this is Your world, and we are Your creation. You indeed are the Creator/Redeemer and will make all things right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs16:4 The Lord works out everything for His own purpose – even the wicked for a day of disaster.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR GOD?
“Before you make a decision, make a plan or set a goal, ask these questions,” said T.B. Matson, our ethics professor.
“Can I ask God to bless what I am about to do?”
“Is what I am planning to do going to honor God?”
“Would I feel comfortable to ask others to join me in prayer for what I am asking God to do for me?”
“Would others agree with me that what I am about to do will be God-honoring?”
We often act and react without pausing to pray about or even consider the consequences of our behavior. Sometimes when things seem to be getting out of control, we run to God and plead for Him to “correct this terrible mess I’ve created for Your name is at stake.” Others may say, “Well, it looked good when I started but where is God now?”
Because of our sinful nature, we often act without seeking God’s approval before setting out on a project. We think, plan, work and then wonder “what happened to my ideas?” when things go wrong. We forget the need to go to God first because of our desire to act independent and self-sufficient. If we look to and depend on God, we automatically admit we are insufficient on our own and need His help. And who wants to think they need help?
Wisely Solomon wrote, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.” The word used for “commit” literally means “roll over.” So if in prayer, we “roll over” our plans to God for His blessing, protection, and guidance, we can expect them to succeed.
Prayer: Father, we pray that You will remove all pride from our hearts and help us realize our need for Your guidance. May we realize our need for You at all times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
Have you ever asked someone to do something for you, and they either did it poorly or “forgot.” Maybe they said, “That’s on the top of my list. I can’t believe I haven’t done it yet. Please forgive me,” or “I wish you’d have reminded me sooner. You know I want to help you!” Perhaps they were waiting for you to do something for them first.
Had there been something very special or unique in “it” for them for doing the task, it probably would have been done. Most individuals want to receive some type of recognition or reward for helping others. It’s usually a “what’s in it for me” attitude that paralyzes many from being helpful. When our requests for assistance are for the ordinary, everyday, boring things of life that have little glamour or glory, they are easily set aside for the more important things that bring rewards or recognition. Few willingly become involved with the problems of others when the rewards are small or insignificant.
Everyone needs attention and recognition. It’s part of how God made us. However, we must always be conscious of one important fact: Whatever we do must ultimately be done to glorify God. If we do the right “thing” for the wrong reason – to bring recognition to ourselves – we cannot expect God to bless it or us. In fact, we should not expect His blessings at all.
“All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord,” wrote Solomon. We rarely stop and think about being accountable to God for every “thing” we do, but we are. God knows our “motives” and “weighs” them in light of His Word. Our motives matter!
Prayer: We ask, Father, to be alert to all that we say or do. May our motives come from our heart that has You and Your Word at its center and will honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs16:2 All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.
IT TAKES MORE THAN GOOD PLANS
It had been a long, trying and tiring day. It seemed as though there was one demand after another – each more consuming than the preceding one. While sitting alone and looking out the window at a yard filled with pine trees, my little dog Bella came and sat at my feet. Finally, I thought, here’s someone who has come to comfort me.
Shortly after she sat down and looked into my eyes, she began to bark loudly. Not wanting to be disturbed, I tried to avoid looking at her – hoping she would come to the conclusion that I did not want to be bothered. It didn’t work. She persisted until I looked at her, shook my head, got up from my chair, and fed her. What I find so amazing is that she expects to be fed at the same time each day. It is as though she has a plan in place organized around a clock. Not so, because she does not have the ability to plan. Only man, created in the image of God, has been given the ability to plan. It is a God-given gift and to be used to glorify and honor the Lord. And notice, if you will, that it comes from the heart – our very essence – the sum total of all the gifts God has given to us.
Notice also, “the answer of the tongue comes from the Lord.” We may make the most intricate, time-consuming and carefully designed plans for what we think is best for us and others. But, in the end, only God knows what is best for every situation, decision, problem or plan.
We must always recognize the sovereignty of God in all things. We must wait upon Him to speak to us and give us the assurance that our plans agree with His Word and will!
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to understand that the best plans ever conceived will fail without Your blessing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:1 To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.