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Devotional for 4-23-2019

GOD’S FAVORITES?

It’s true! God has favorites!

It’s also true that He offers all of us the opportunity to become one of His favorites. And, it’s not that difficult, either. “Good people,” wrote Solomon, “obtain favor from the Lord.” It’s rather obvious that those who want “His favor,” as well as those who receive “His favor” are those who are “good people.”

Since most of us have our own definition of “good,” it is important to understand God’s definition of “good.” If we know His definition of “good,” we then have a choice: we can either meet His requirements and receive “His favor” or decide that “His favor” is not worth the effort.

Throughout the Old Testament “good people” are the ones who are motivated by a Godly-love to do Godly-things. They willingly set their own needs and desires to the side while they serve the needs of others. Doing “God-things” is the driving force in their lives. The “good” are those who are able and willing when they see someone in need, to do something about it – even if it means they willingly sacrifice something. The “good” are those who work with God to bring honor to His name when one of His children is being treated unfairly or unjustly, is in need or is suffering. The “good” are those who follow the examples of Jesus: His life was about doing “good.” The “good” have God’s “seal of approval” on their lives.

“Those who devise wicked schemes” are the opposite of the “good people.” Their lives are about self, not sacrifice; their “schemes” are unfair, unjust, unholy; they lack decency, honesty, integrity or kindness. God’s wrath awaits them. Live well, and receive God’s favor!

Prayer: Lord, convict me, challenge me, discipline me, and burden me through Your Holy Spirit, until I become one of Your “good people.” And revive Your favor! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:2 Good people obtain favor from the Lord, but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes. 

Devotional for 4-22-2019

KNOWLEDGE AND DISCIPLINE

It was obvious to Solomon.

People who want wisdom are willing to pay the price to get it – because they “love” it. There is even a willingness, by some, to be disciplined, if necessary, to obtain wisdom.

People who “hate correction” or discipline, on the other hand, are considered “stupid.”

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid,” wrote Solomon. There is a price to be paid for everything: even knowledge. In this verse, the author uses two interesting words to describe the attitude of one who wants “knowledge” or one who is content to be “stupid” – love and hate. Here, however, they are not connected to an emotional state. They focus on the priorities of an individual. If a person wants knowledge, it must be a lifelong priority. If a person wants to be stupid, the only requirement is to refuse to learn or be corrected.

Knowledge and wisdom have very similar meanings in the Bible. In fact, they are almost synonymous, life-giving, life-sustaining, life-enhancing, and require one thing in common: the person who wants them, must at all costs, embrace “discipline.” To “get” one, “wisdom,” we must endure the other, “discipline.” In other words if I want to be wise, I must accept discipline.

Interestingly, the word “stupid” is found five times in the Old Testament. It is used to portray a dense, dumb animal as well as a man who is unkind and runs roughshod over people.

To refuse discipline, then, lowers the status of a person. To accept discipline opens the door to successful living.

Prayer: How blest we are, Father, for the opportunities You give us to achieve great things. Help us to persevere. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.

Devotional for 4-21-2019

HOW MUCH MORE?

“How much more?” is a familiar phrase. As in, “How much more do you want from me…” or “How much more of this do you think I can take…” or “How much more is there in life…” or “How much more can be done…” And, the list could go on and on.

Those three words appear four times in the Book of Proverbs and the words, “How much less” appears twice. There are several lines of thought about their meaning: Some think they are too good to be true; some think they are overly simplistic; some think their promises are vastly overstated while others think they apply to the spiritual realm alone and are completely “future-oriented.”

“If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner,” writes Solomon. Is there a simple message in these few words that we may try to complicate for the sake of discussion? Perhaps.

There is a popular opinion among many that some sins are not bad, or that they can sin and “get away with it.” But, that opinion is not supported by Scripture. Besides, when we want to know what sin is, where it comes from, and what to do about it, we do not go to psychologists or philosophers: We go to God’s Word!

As far as riches and righteousness, sin and unholy living go, Solomon has some advice: “The righteous do receive their due on earth; how much more the ungodly!” Jesus said: “What a man sows he will reap.” Sow righteousness – reap God’s blessings. Sow evil – reap suffering!

God will reward each of us for the way we live – now and in the life to come.

Prayer: Please, Lord, give me a desire to live a righteous life – a life that is worthy of Your unending blessings! May I walk in Your paths and always follow You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:31 If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

Devotional for 4-20-2019

PROSPERITY PLUS

Sin is sin.

There’s no way around it. Some ridicule those who fear it. Some try to hide it. Some look forward to doing it. Some suffer horrible consequences because of it. Some do their best to avoid it. Some can’t get enough of it.

Some have ways of classifying sins. One sin, to some, may be worse than another sin. “If you do it, it’s a sin! But if I do it, well, it’s a mistake or something that could not be avoided.” Or, “God was testing me, and it was more than even the best Christian could resist. It got me!”

Many consider the rich, wealthy, or prosperous to be devious and dishonest, sinister and sinful, unable to be honest and helpful because they are successful. They cannot believe that what the rich have is a result of clean living, hard work, honoring God and serving others. However, this position cannot be supported by Scripture.

There is nothing wrong with being wealthy or rich or successful. What makes the difference? “Those who trust in their riches will fail, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”

Many who have riches are also very righteous. They recognize that what they have comes from God, and in turn, honor Him from the abundance of His gifts and with hearts that are pure. What we have and do with what we have, proves our motives and what we love.

The Bible clearly states that the problems of the rich do not come from their riches, but from the way they relate to worldly wealth. Thank God for their wealth if they use it to honor and glorify Him. However, it’s not what they do with God’s blessings, but what I do with mine.

Prayer: Father, whatever I have are gifts that come to me from Your love and grace. What I do with them, and how I use them, proves how much I love You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:28 Those who trust in their riches will fail, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. 

Devotional for 4-19-2019

WHERE DOES IT ALL END?

“Be patient! God’s not finished with me yet!” Many of us use those words as an excuse every time we make a mess of things. While I’m not sure it ever worked for that reason, it was comforting until reality set in. There are days when God seems to be shaking us by the nape of our necks to get our attention. There are other days when His grace grants one blessing after another. It cannot be denied, however, that we are all a “work in progress” as long as we are alive. The question we must ask ourselves is: What is progress, and how will we know when God is finished with us?

If the “godly look forward to a reward,” what happens when we falter, fail or fall? Are we doomed? Is godliness or righteousness ever attainable in this life? Or, is it something we are to struggle with and strive for as long as we live?

In this instance, “look forward” is the outcome of those who have “righteousness” or “godliness” as a goal. It is what God’s children focus their heads, hearts and hands on. It is not something that “happens” as a byproduct of life. Righteous living is a core value at the center of all that believers do. Unrighteousness, which is the opposite, must be avoided at all costs!

“The wicked can expect only God’s wrath.” Now, that should get everyone’s attention. Wrath, God’s wrath, is His overflowing anger against the unrighteous. God’s wrath can be compared to a fire that is slowly growing, and, at the moment in time, will be all consuming.

This verse should remind us that the unrighteous face God’s impending judgment and eventual wrath. Today is the day of salvation. Now is the time to repent!

Prayer: May we understand, Father, that our desires determine our destiny. May righteousness rule in our hearts, be the center of our heart, and the work of our hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath. 

Devotional for 4-18-2019

DECISIONS! DECISIONS! DECISIONS!

Even before getting out of bed this morning, I had to make a decision: Would I hit the “snooze” button and rest a little longer or would I turn off the alarm and start my day? It is not possible to go for any length of time without having to make a decision. And although all of us are making decisions most of the time, we rarely take time to think about our “decision-making process.”

Every decision we make affects our lives one way or another. Some decisions last a lifetime and can bring joy and satisfaction or sorrow and guilt. Some can be changed immediately if we see things going in the wrong direction. Others engulf us and seem to squeeze the life out of us. Often we want to blame others for our decisions, but ultimately, we are accountable for everyone.

Solomon provided us with excellent decision-making advice: “For lack of guidance a nation falls; but victory is won through many advisors.” What applies to a nation also applies to an individual. Gathering information from a variety of reliable people will provide guidance, insight and direction and lead to the best decision.

In this verse, an “uncommon” word is used: guidance. It refers to the “tackle” or the “ropes” that enable a ship to stay on course. People are much like ships: where there is no guidance even the shortest journey can be disastrous. Learning the “ropes” that come from God’s wisdom will lead us through the charted course that God has laid out for us before the foundation of the world.

No wonder He is called the Wonderful Counselor!

Prayer: Father, may we always seek Your guidance for each decision we make in life. May we always look to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:14 For lack of guidance a nation falls; but victory is won through many advisors. 

Devotional for 4-17-2019

IT’S ALL UP TO GOD

“God’s gonna get you for that!”

There was little doubt in Sally’s mind about God’s justice. Any time anyone said anything she didn’t want to hear, out would come her famous “threat.” With red hair, a pointed finger and a strong voice, she would continue, “You just wait and see. Maybe not before you fall asleep. But, I’d keep one eye open while I slept tonight if I were you! I know He’s coming after you for that! What you said was wrong.”

Everyone on campus loved Sally. Her enthusiasm for life, her happy smile, the twinkle in her eye. Every time she uttered those words, the receiver could not help but look around for a speeding truck or bolt of lightning. Or both. She was very convincing.

However, justice belongs to God, not Sally. He is righteous. He is fair. He has no favorites. He looks at things differently than we do. Scripture reassures us that “He does all things well.” He will not allow others to destroy His beloved children. His Son died for them.

“The righteous person is rescued from trouble,” said Solomon, “and it falls on the wicked instead.” He knew from personal experience that when the righteous are the objects of schemes to hurt them, God will intervene at the appropriate time. Our God will never allow any injustice to go by without becoming personally involved. Even though we do not know what His justice will bring or when it will come, all of life is in His hands. He will right each wrong.

Isaiah summed it up this way: “For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him.”

Prayer: Help us, Father, to trust in Your justice. We are human, and naturally resentful and spiteful. You, however, are loving and fair and will do what is right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble,” said Solomon, “and it falls on the wicked instead. 

Devotional for 4-16-2019

IS IT THE END OR THE BEGINNING?

“I’m bored with it all!”

Power and prestige, influence and insight, victory and valor seemed worthless to Winston Churchill as he faced death. His final words expressed hopelessness and emptiness as he slipped into a coma nine days before he died. What a tragic statement from a man who shaped the course of history as he was about to face eternity without Christ.

As he was struggling to breathe, a colleague took the hand of Michael Faraday, the brilliant chemist and scientist and asked, “What will be your occupation in heaven?” He replied, “I shall be with Christ, and that is enough!”

Two famous men who lived two world-influencing lives. However, when it came to facing death, one looked backward in despair, the other forward in a faith that was filled with hope and expectation! What a startling difference God made in their lives,

“Hopes placed in men dies with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing.” Solomon shared his great wisdom with these words. He clearly stated the difference between a life lived for God, and a life lived for any other reason or purpose: One who does not live for God or know Christ personally will eventually see all of his hopes and dreams die. Living only for this life or living a life that focuses on oneself ends with a sense of hopelessness and insignificance. When this life ends, another begins in the presence of God or the depths of darkness.

What a blessed hope we have if we choose to accept the love and grace and mercy of God. Hope can be ours because of Christ. Choose Christ, find life, have hope.

Prayer: How great is Your love, Lord. As unworthy as we are, we have forgiveness of our sins, a purpose for living, and hope for the future through Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:7 Hopes placed in men dies with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing.

Devotional for 4-15-2019

LEVEL PATHWAYS

Recently, I received two fall catalogs from sporting goods companies. Both featured items that anyone who loves the outdoors would be pleased to own. Both had a focus on hiking and the wilderness. The clothes were so attractive that they appeared glamorous enough to wear to a wedding reception.

But the shoes were in a class by themselves. They all had a rugged appearance with built-in safety features: steel shanks for stability, soles with rock-biting “teeth” to provide non-skid traction, comfortable inserts to prevent fatigue, and strong laces that would last for years.

Every picture that featured the shoes “in action” had a person walking up a steep incline with rocks, shrubs, and stones that made the journey difficult. Some of the models had a stick in their hand to provide balance or to protect them from snakes or other animals. All appeared ready for “anything” with canteens of water and first aid kits. Whatever came their way would be subdued! They were prepared to conquer anything at any time. They were ready for their journey into and through the wilderness.

But no matter how wisely they prepared for their journey through the wilderness, it did not prepare them for the journey through life. The journey through life is not about shoes or clothing: it is about walking in God’s righteousness. The only “safe-passage” is with Christ. “The righteousness of the blameless makes their path straight, but the wicked are brought down by their deeds.”

God will grant us a “safe passage” through life. But we must follow His path if we want it.

Prayer: Lord, may we stay close to You as we journey through life, knowing that we will be safe and secure if we follow Your paths. Give us courage to do so. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their path straight, but the wicked are brought down by their deeds. 

Devotional for 4-14-2019

RICHES AND RIGHTEOUSNESS

“I need to come to talk with you,” he said nervously. “I have everything anyone could ask for, but I’m miserable. I think you are the only hope I have. As soon as I get back from this trip I’m taking, I’ll be in to see you.”

“Well,” I said, “I don’t have any answers for your problems, but I believe strongly that God does. And, if you seek Him sincerely and honestly, He’ll give you the right answer for any problem. We have His Word on that.”

The trip is over. He returned safely and had a “good time,” but has found no time to look for God’s answers to his miserable condition. Perhaps the trip was so enjoyable that it has relieved him, temporarily, of his distress. It may also have been a “gentle” forewarning from God that, when his misery returns, he will not escape His wrath the next time.

God does everything He can to bring people to a place while they still have time to make things “right” with Him. Our God is not only gracious; He is patient and inviting. But, as Solomon wrote, “Wealth is worthless in the day of God’s wrath.”

When that “day of wrath” arrives, no amount of this world’s wealth will make any difference. To support this fact, David wrote a warning to the wealthy who have no time for God: “The foolish and the senseless also perish. People, despite their wealth, do not endure.”

Righteousness and right living have their rewards: a life with God’s presence, power and protection now, and a life with Him in eternity. He promised us that He would deliver us from death and destruction, and grant us eternal life with Him in the future. Trust Him today!

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your salvation, the assurance of Your presence and protection now, the gift of hope, and the promise of eternal life with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. 

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