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Devotional for 8-13-2019

PRAISEWORTHY?

“He who tooteth not his own horn, the same shall be substituted,” was the favorite “proverb” of Ray O., a dear friend during my days in college. Whenever anyone would begin to describe their “greatness” or why they were “superior” to anyone, he would immediately reach for his Bible. He would furrow his brow, focus his eyes, and begin to fumble through the pages of the Word and say, “I know that verse is in here somewhere. I read it just this morning during my devotions. Oh well, trust me. You know it has to be here somewhere! It’s the truth and you know where to go for the truth.”

He was never able to find the verse, but we all knew what he was talking about. Some people, usually those who have accomplished little, want to make sure that we think they are “superheroes.” For whatever reason, perhaps fear of being overlooked or under-appreciated, they have the need to “bore” us with words that contradict the reality of their lives.

Perhaps Ray was looking for the proverb that supports his position: “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise of others.” There are proven ways to refine metals to make certain that they contain no impurities. When we speak of ourselves, however, it is easy to forgo the refiner’s fire and praise ourselves to make good impressions. All of us want the respect and esteem of others. It is normal. But the most accurate observations of who we are comes from reading God’s Word and the observations of friends.

Prayer: Help us Father, to work diligently and with determination to develop a reputation that is worthy of Your Name. May others see Your Son in us and what we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 27:21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise of others. 

Devotional for 8-12-2019

HOW WE ARE SEEN

Among the many photos I have collected over the years is one of a bridge in Yosemite Falls. Actually, it is the picture of a bridge and its reflection in still waters. When viewed, it appears to become an oval with water in between two bridges. The top half of the photo is the actual bridge while the reflection in the water is an exact replica of the bridge. They both seem to be the same as if the water divides them. It’s like the letter “u” on top of another “u.”

Reflections are an interesting part of life. One psychologist believes that children who grow up without seeing their image in mirrors are at a disadvantage. He is convinced that they are unable to develop a picture of what they look like, who they are. As a result, they cannot develop their identity and become mentally healthy people. Although this argument is open to debate, what we see when we look into a mirror may be much more than an image of ourselves: it may be a reflection of our heart.

“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Are we being encouraged to “look deep within ourselves” to discover who we are? Are we to sit and contemplate our identity? Are we to wonder who we are and where we are going without resolving the problem?

God’s Word presents the best picture of who we are and where we are going. Without His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior and Lord, we are lost and have no identity. With Him, we have a new identity – we are transformed into the image of Christ. We can become like Him

Prayer: Lord, may we see ourselves as You see us and change our ways through the power of Christ and become new creations and a member of the family of God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 27:19 As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man. 

Devotional for 8-11-2019

PREPARING WISELY

All through college, it was my desire to be on the debate team. I would sit quietly, listen carefully and watch intently as one “team” would present their side of an issue. When finished, the other team would take “issue” with their position and attempt to dismantle their carefully stated, but opposing view. Although I saw the debate, I did not see the preparation. Both teams came to the “contest” thoroughly and carefully prepared. Both teams expected to win. Both teams were mentally alert and emotionally prepared. Both teams were ready to do battle with words, ideas, thoughts, and illustrations.

We saw the teams debate but we never saw what the teams did to prepare for the debate. Their preparation, however, is described by a proverb of Solomon: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Knives are first shaped and fashioned for their intended use. They are crafted for a special or specific purpose and then polished to give them beauty and elegance. The handle must “fit” properly and be smoothed to perfection for a sure grip. But the final step in the process is when they are sharpened by the knife-maker. The work is completed when one metal is used against another metal to sharpen the blade to perfection and precision.

No one knows everything about anything. We all have “mental” gaps and “space” in our brains for more knowledge, wisdom, and insight. Though the Bible is the best place to prepare for life, we must use other resources – books and friends – to “sharpen” our minds.

Prayer: Father, may we bring others into our lives who know You and who will challenge our thoughts and ideas so that we will become our best to do battle for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. 

Devotional for 8-10-2019

WATCH YOUR STEP!

We live in a “politically correct” society. Each day brings new challenges and attacks on our faith, beliefs, values, families, churches, and … the list actually seems endless. What was once the source of strength, hope, courage, encouragement, inspiration, wisdom, guidance and the guardian of our lives – God’s Holy Word – has now become irrelevant, ridiculed constantly, under attack by those who are godless, and has been replaced by humanism.

Listen, however, to the wise insight of Solomon: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” There is a very important distinction between “the prudent” and “the simple.” The “simple” are those who are “open-minded” to whatever is popular at the moment. They have no standards or criteria to distinguish between right and wrong. If it is in fashion or fashionable, popular or predominate in the lives of celebrities or politicians, the “simple” fall in line and become believers, then leaders and followers in the revolt to take God from His rightful place in His world.

But “the prudent” are different. They are filled with insight and good judgment. They wisely view all alternatives before making a decision. They are careful and cautious and use good, God-centered wisdom in all decisions. In this verse, “prudent” people are people who apply God’s guidance to life’s situations and follow His directions.

In another proverb, Solomon wrote, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” Thank God for His wisdom! Follow it carefully!

Prayer: Thank You, God, for providing us the path to successful living. May our decisions reflect prudence that comes from knowing Your Word and following Your way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 27:12 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. 

Devotional for 8-9-2019

PASS IT ON

Many parents strive to leave an inheritance for their children. They have a sense of obligation and duty to work and sacrifice to make certain that those they leave behind will have more than they did. They didn’t have much of this “world’s goods” so they want to make life a little easier and more comfortable for the others they leave behind.
It is one thing to leave an inheritance and quite another to leave a legacy. An inheritance is made up of “things” – monetary, physical, tangible, negotiable items that have a “cash value” attached to them. However, a legacy is quite different.

While not all parents leave an inheritance for their children, all parents leave their children a legacy. Legacies are the core values of our life that we pass on to our children that guide and guard them and give them purpose in life. It is a process of instilling values in children that brings glory to God by the lives they live. Godly legacies will provide God’s wisdom, insight, and knowledge that shape behaviors and give purpose and meaning to life.

An inheritance is something parents can leave to their children but a legacy is much more than that. Parents who honor God in all things leave a God-honoring legacy for their children to follow and pass on to their children. We all leave legacies to be passed on.

“Be wise my son, and bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt.” It is obvious that Solomon wanted to leave a legacy for his children that did not come from his wealth but from God’s wisdom that exceeded his wealth: A God-like character.

Prayer: We pray, Father, that each of us will leave legacies that honor You and inspire others to follow You. May we live like we are leaving a legacy – because we are! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 27:11 Be wise my son, and bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt. 

Devotional for 8-8-2019

IT’S ALL ABOUT WHO?

Perhaps the most boring people in the world are those who enjoy heaping praises on themselves. They have a view of themselves that far exceeds the reality of who they are and what they have accomplished in life. As one person so aptly said, “They have ‘I’ problems” – “I have done this and I have done that and I am better than you are and my opinions about myself are trustworthy, reliable and verifiable. And if you do not believe me, ask me and I’ll go into more detail and explain more clearly what I have already achieved in life with more to come.”

Solomon must have known people who were not only self-centered but self-sufficient, self-serving and self-satisfied. They had completed a “self-evaluation” survey and broken all previous records. Wisely, Solomon provided some sound advice for those who fall into that category: “Let other people praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.”

“Praise” is not the problem. If we see someone doing something that is commendable, helpful, kind, and gracious in serving others on behalf of God, they are certainly worthy of recognition. So, being recognized or praised for what we have done is not the problem either.

The problem lies in the fact that if we evaluate ourselves by ourselves for ourselves, we usually overlook our flaws and “think more highly of ourselves than we ought to.”

Jesus said it best: “I am not seeking glory for myself.” If we glorify God, others will praise our works, and we will give God the credit for the gifts He has given us!

Prayer: We pray, Father, for an attitude of humility and a life of integrity as we work with Your Son to bring honor, glory, praise, and thanksgiving to Your name! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 27:2 Let other people praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips. 

Devotional for 8-7-2019

THE BEST LAID PLANS

The only certainty in life is that life is uncertain. We never know, from one moment to the next, what God may have in store for us. Our God is eternal and in control of everything, everywhere, all of the time. Although we may have the utmost confidence in the plans He has for our lives, we must always be alert to His gentle guidance and compassionate care, and at times His stern discipline and chastening. We know that He has a plan for each of us and that it is a good and perfect plan.

But we must never become complacent and feel that we have more knowledge about our lives than He does. It is foolish to chart a course for ourselves, close our eyes to His will, stop our ears to His voice, and try to take control of things and plan our future without Him.

Solomon wisely said, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Plans for any future date can never be certain because we do not know what God may have in store for us. Now, does that mean we are not to plan for tomorrow?

The ability to plan is a gift from God. We see it throughout His carefully crafted creation. Since we are created in His image, we are endowed with the ability to plan. However, the warning contained in this proverb is the folly of presumptuous boasting about our plans – doing what we want to do without taking God’s Word, ways, and will into our plans. God is in control of His universe and that includes each of us. We must take the gifts He has given us, look for the opportunities He sets before us, seek His guidance and follow Him closely.

Prayer: Father, may we look to You each moment of every day asking You to reveal Your plans for us. May we look to You to guide us, guard us, and give us Your help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. 

Devotional for 8-6-2019

STOP IT!

My sister, “Sis,” was an outstanding piano player and could imitate many pianists with her skills and talents. She also authored many hymns and gospel courses and was well-known for her talents and love for the Lord. She was part of several evangelist teams that were popular years ago. Everyone loved “Sis” for her music, sense of humor, and keen insights.

Whenever she became bored with someone who talked too much, she would ask politely, “What would you say if you could not talk about yourself?”

Her question would usually end the “talkers” talking and bring the conversation to an abrupt end. It would force the “talker” to realize what was being said and the conversation would soon end because that person had nothing worth talking about or listening to.

“Without wood, a fire goes out, without gossip a quarrel dies down,” said Solomon. All too often quarrels go on endlessly because those involved in the dispute are not listening to what the other person is saying. Beyond that, they usually are not listening to what they are saying, either. Neither has any idea of what they are saying to the other. So, the best way to stop a quarrel is to stop “talking trash!” Gossip is nothing more than rotting trash.

James offers some great advice: “The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider that a great forest can be set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person…”

Without gossip, quarrels end, and sanity can return.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to control our tongues by filling our minds with Your teachings, our hearts with Your love, wisdom, grace, comfort, and peace to share with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 26:20 Without wood, a fire goes out, without gossip a quarrel dies down. 

Devotional for 8-5-2019

BE REFRESHED!

Ears may take up little space on the human body, but they play an important role in life. Sounds have a unique way of focusing on something that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Sirens blare to get our attention, and we look for a vehicle with blinking and flashing lights. Horns honk and warn us to “stay in your own lane” or to keep us from being careless in our driving. Roosters crow to announce a new day. Dogs bark to let us know that someone unusual may be in “our space” or to welcome us home. Sounds play an important role in our lives and without ears, we would miss much that life has to offer.

Another important aspect of our ears, however, is to hear the news. With news being available twenty-four hours a day, every day, we can easily become news-weary. Little changes except for the date and the day. The content of news broadcasts rarely changes, only the location and those who are participating in what is going on.

Solomon had representatives traveling far and wide to expand his commercial empire. Certainly, he was one who had an ear out for “good news.” It was important to him. He wanted to know how he was doing with what he was doing. No doubt the reports he heard were often mixed. But when he received “good news,” it revived his weary soul like a drink of cold water.
However, God’s “good news” in Christ is not only “good news,” but the “best news” everyone needs. It not only refreshes one’s soul, but it also redeems and reconciles that soul to its Creator. And the “good news” of “His news” is that it gives us eternal life.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your Word that brings us the Good News of Your love, mercy, grace, and salvation. May we accept it gladly and share it freely. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 25:25 Good news from far away is like cold water to the thirsty. 

Devotional for 8-4-2019

WHAT TO DO TO AN ENEMY

Jesus said, “love your enemies!”

Solomon went a step further when he wrote: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” He put his words to work by showing the results of love.

What a predicament for those of us who want to get even and seek revenge. Resentments loom large in most of us even though we want to demonstrate the love and compassion of Christ. It is only natural to want to hurt those who hurt us and get even with those who have done us damage. While it may be natural and normal, it does not reflect the new “nature” of a Christian: “Behold, all things are made new!”

A better translation of “enemy” is “the one who hates you.” This removes it from any vagueness and forces us to look closely at our relationships with others. While not easy to do, it will have positive results because it follows the teachings of Jesus.

Returning love for hate and kindness for coldness is not the normal way we respond to those who would do us harm. But Solomon seems to suggest that when we return “good for evil” we are bringing shame on those who hate or hurt us.

Certainly this is what Paul would recommend that we who are Christians must do when he wrote: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” It is God who is the one to mete out justice. Whatever we do may be too much, too little, or not enough, but never right!

Prayer: We plead for grace, Lord, to show Your grace to those who hate us or would harm us. May we share Your love, as You did, and in doing so witness grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 25:21-22 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

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