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Devotional for 2-21-2019

ATTRACTIVE BUT DEADLY

Everyone seems to enjoy a little attention and some flattery now and then. Although we may think that a little flattery is good for the ego, there is a real danger that it can lead to death. Solomon’s Proverbs contain that warning. And, we often see or hear his warnings come to life on TV, radio, and in print.

Wisdom, Solomon writes, will not only protect you from men who would lead you astray but “Wisdom will save you also from the adulteress woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive ways.”

Someone has said that two of the most difficult sins to resist are pride and sexual immorality because both are so attractive and seductive. Pride says, “I deserve it” while sexual desire says, “I need it.” When combined, their appeal leads to death, and only the strength that comes from God will enable one to overcome them.

The path from seduction to sin is easily overlooked and difficult to recognize. The “seductress” begins with what appears to be an invitation to friendship that soon becomes a relationship that destroys the innocent. Many times the conversation begins with idle talk that excites the imagination and then leads to acts that were unintended, but eventually becomes a way of life that leads “to the spirits of death.”

Can a “seductive woman” be identified easily? Is there a way to recognize her quickly and then avoid her completely? Yes! This “woman” is the enemy of morality and virtue and can be “detected” by her words and ways. Solomon carefully describes her for us.

Prayer: Lord, give us “wisdom” to recognize “clues” that can be easily overlooked and lead us in righteous paths. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 2:16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulteress woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive ways. 

Devotional for 2-20-2019

SECRETS REVEALED

A few feet from my desk is a closet used for storage. In that closet are boxes and boxes of information that, at one time, was very costly. Today, it is worth much more than it was when purchased.

The boxes inside the closet are made of ordinary cardboard. If someone opens the door and looks at them, there would be no reason to open them other than plain curiosity. They appear to have no value unless someone knows their contents.

They are like the Bible. Unless there is a desire to look inside and find out what it contains, it is useless. Most people are more likely to turn on a television or look at a magazine. But, if one stops, opens the Word and accepts its contents, life takes on an entirely new meaning and direction.

“My son,” begins Solomon, “if you accept my words . . . and store up my commands . . . you will understand what is right and just and fair – and it will lead you to every good path, For wisdom will enter your heart.”

The Proverbs contain clear and concise guidance for those who want to choose between right and wrong. God has planted some degree of morality in everyone’s heart because we were made in His image. But only the Word of God spells out in exact words what is right and just and fair. Every law or rule or policy that has ever been written is an extension of what we find in His Word. But, only His Word is capable of penetrating the very core of our being – our hearts. When we allow it to do its work, we are changed from the inside out and become a new creation.

Prayer: Lord, people look in vain for ways to change what is wrong into what is right. Your Word is that way! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 2:1a My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you

Devotional for 2-19-2019

A DESPERATE CALL

“Larry,” he said to get my complete attention, “don’t go next door and play with Richard. He’s not good for you to be around.”

“OK, Dad. I won’t.” (At least not while you’re looking, I said to myself, under my breath.)

Not long after the warning, I heard his penetrating whistle that could be heard throughout the neighborhood. However, I was next door, on the roof of Richard’s garage with some other friends having a great time. But now, the “good time” was over. I looked down from the roof, and there was my Dad standing at the foot of the ladder. I knew I was “busted.” He spoke, I refused to obey, and the party was over.

“How long will you simple ones love your simple ways?” wrote Solomon. Or, if he was talking to me today it would mean, “Larry, why were you so careless to allow yourself to drift into temptation. Don’t you remember that I gave you a warning? Why didn’t you follow my advice?”

This verse contains a certain sadness: “How long…” We are all “slow learners!” We refuse to hear God.” I warned you, didn’t I? When will you ever ‘grow-up’ and accept the wisdom I offered you? I offered you my best: My wisdom that will last a lifetime and you rejected it.

Rejecting God’s wisdom is very costly. In verse 25 there are some tragic words to describe the results of disobeying God: “Since you rejected me when I called…and ignored my advice…and would not accept my rebuke, I will laugh at you.” God’s grace has its limits. Hear Him today!

Prayer: Lord, how blest are those who hear Your Word, accept it and follow it. Rejecting His wisdom has its consequences. We must listen to You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 1:22 How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? 

Devotional for 2-18-2019

WARNING! DANGER AHEAD

Years ago, I was invited by some friends to visit a desert in Arizona. I was fascinated by the many varieties of the cactus plants. They came in almost every size and shape. Some had beautiful flowers, some contained water, some even had fruit – the “cactus pear” – but all of them had “needles.”

One of my friends warned me and said, “Please do not touch them or you will have their painful needles piercing your hands.” But, like Adam, I decided to “taste” the fruit of a cactus pear, and immediately understood what my friend’s warning about “painful needles” meant. Though difficult to see the needles, their sting was extreme painful and seemed to affect every part of my body. I was left with the sting from their needles and never enjoyed the fruit.

Solomon offered “the young” a warning: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.” Perhaps he was speaking from personal experience. Or, maybe he saw others “enticed” by sin, fall into its attractiveness, and the damage it did to them and their loved ones. But the importance of his “words of warning” is true for everyone, no matter their age: sin. The results of sin affect the sinner – no matter their age. And, “Young” in this verse applies to any age or sex.

Sin is “enticing” because it offers a fast lane to short-lived pleasure. Those who entice us to sin never say, “Oh, by the way, I want you to know that if you gain things illegally, the gain you get, sooner or later, will one day cost you your life. So, be sure to remember this, my friend, the only ‘gains’ worth getting come from God.”

Falling into temptation is easy. Escaping its consequences is not.

Prayer: Father, these words of wisdom provide a shield of armor that will protect us all the days of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. 

Devotional for 2-17-2019

HELP, I’M A PARENT

Throughout the Bible, being obedient to parents is always connected to being submissive to and following the teachings of God. And, if we consider God’s character to be important and the foundation of His role as our Father, parents will strive to “imitate” His characteristics if they want to be effective representatives of Him.

We often speak of the characteristics of God in high and lofty terms: He is “omniscient, omnipotent, immortal, and omnipresent!” But, Jesus presented the character of God in behaviors that could be seen, and, most of them imitated. Consider these important behaviors we constantly see in the life of Jesus: loving, kind, caring, compassionate, forgiving, accepting, helping, healing, encouraging, honest, thoughtful, sensitive, open, available, authentic, a disciplinarian, knowledgeable, wise, a craftsman, a caring Son, student of the Law and Prophets, a model to be followed, submissive to and respectful of the laws and a close obedient relationship to His Father.

Quite a list, indeed. And, when I review and think about this list, I wonder how often I failed my Heavenly Father as the father He wanted me to be to my children as they grew up – even now.

When we consider the important role that parents are called to fulfill, spiritual, moral, and ethical examples and authorities to our children, it is easy to cry out, “This job is far beyond me!” And, it is if we attempt to do it on our own. But, if we are humble and dependent on Him, we have His Word to guide us and guard us, His Son within us to empower us, and the Holy Spirit’s presence to lead us.

We also have His Word, especially the Proverbs, when we want His wisdom.

Prayer: Father, we parents who love and believe in You are blest to have You and Your Word as a “parent’s guide.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 1:8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 

Devotional for 2-16-2019

OBEDIENCE

The Ten Commandments appear to be divided into two sections: four of them teach the importance of honoring God, and six of them teach us to honor mankind. The fifth commandment would logically appear at the bottom of the first tablet. It is the first commandment that contains a promise: “Honor your father and mother so that you may live long (and in peace) in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” These words are echoed in Colossians: “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this pleases God.”

Perhaps it would be “wise” to clear up the phrase, “My son,” in verse eight. If we acknowledge that Proverbs was written for all mankind who acknowledge God as their Lord and follow His teachings, then everyone, no matter their age, would be included in “My son.”

Since this is written to “children,” it would be good to remind ourselves that the main characteristic of “youth” is vulnerability. The young would disagree with parents who would say that they are ignorant of the ways of the world and have no foresight or insight to see the results or consequences of their behavior. They need stern, loving advice, and warnings from parents who “walk their talk” and have the best interests of their children at heart. No one has more responsibility for the wellbeing and development of their children than their parents.

But there are other “parents” who are also guilty of neglecting “children.” Mature Christians are responsible for “the new-born Christian.” This verse is an indictment on all of us who have allowed the “young in Christ” to face temptation, unarmed with the Word of God.

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for being negligent in instructing the young at home and in church. We need forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 1:8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 

Devotional for 2-15-2019

HOW TO RECOGNIZE A FOOL

No one that I know wants to be called a “fool.” But, this term is used fifty times in Proverbs. Obviously, God must want us to know who qualifies for this title, and how those who are “fools” can develop a new identity.

To begin with, the word used here for “fool” has nothing to do with one’s mental capacity. It would not be God-like to call someone a “fool” if they had no control over their thoughts and behavior. Instead, it has to do with a person’s chosen outlook on life. This person’s view is set, and nothing or no one will ever be able to change it.

This “fool” is one who has no desire to invest any time in searching for wisdom. It’s thought to be a product that can be purchased online or in a bookstore. Solomon clarified this when he wrote, “Why does a fool offer the sage a fee, when he has no mind to learn.” We can’t buy wisdom!

Since this is true, only reliable and dependable wisdom comes from God. Therefore, it must then be spiritual and not mental. A fool has no reverence or respect for truth. Unfortunately, the “fool” is very comfortable with things as they are. This person refuses to “fear the Lord” and rejects His counsel. The “fool” is satisfied to live life without God.

Whatever we know of God, think of God, understand about God, and believe about God, comes to us from God as He reveals Himself to us. Atheists deny God, and agnostics say they are searching for proof of God. Until a person is willing and open to see God as He has revealed Himself in His world, His Word, and His Son, he will remain a fool.

Prayer: Lord, open the eyes of those who refuse to see, and the ears of those who refuse to hear Your Wisdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Devotional for 2-14-2019

“FEAR OF THE LORD?” WHAT’S THAT ALL ABOUT?

We hear and read of it often. We know that we are somehow “obligated” to do it. We might wonder if it is something we feel. We may even be curious to know if others recognize it in our lives. We could think that if we go to church, read the Bible, give money to His work, meditate, pray, and witness, we are demonstrating our “fear” of Him.

I remember as a child “fearing” my father. And, that fear had many sides to it. I remember fearing his wrath if I disobeyed him, or if he caught me being disobedient to one of his standards. I also recall the fear I had of him finding out if I did not do my best, honor my mother, did not practice the piano, or caused problems at school.

When I understood what he wanted of or from me, and refused to do what he expected of me, that was the source of my fear. I knew that I would eventually have to face him, and knew that when I did, it would be “unpleasant.” That’s the way it is with God, too.

When we understand what He wants of and from us, and we do or do not do it, that’s when and where our fear should begin. And, when we know what He wants from us, and turn from whatever it is that displeases Him, and look to Him for forgiveness, that is when our conversion begins. Turning from evil to God for salvation is the tipping point.

Following conversion comes devotion – which means that we dedicate our lives to wanting to know Him, obey Him, follow Him, serve Him, and fear that we do not dishonor Him by being disobedient. It is only His wisdom that will lead us to obedient, disciplined and righteous living.

Fear is a good thing if it keeps us close to our Heavenly Father

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we fear You because we love You and want to please You. Give us Your wisdom, as well as Your love, we pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 

Devotional for 2-13-2019

“WHO’S SIMPLE?”

“God gives prudence to the simple?” Who are the ‘simple ones,’ and what does ‘prudence’ mean? And, if I’m not simple, do I need prudence?” asked a student in rapid succession. Trying to answer him while the class listened carefully was very important to me. I didn’t want them to think I didn’t know what I had been talking about.

Solomon was not being smug, or putting anyone “down,” or ridiculing them, or being sarcastic. He was too wise to do that. He was being compassionate and giving a warning to those who are “easily led” or “gullible.” There are times when all of us fall into one of those two categories: following the wrong leader or not thinking things through carefully.

And the word, “simple,” as used here, refers to people who are “aimless,” or “inexperienced,” who allow themselves to “drift into temptation.” They are unaware of what is going on around them, and, unfortunately, do not care to do anything about it. People in this condition are easily led astray because they have no interest in doing what is good for themselves, nor what the right thing to do might be. Honoring God is of no concern to them when faced with temptation. The “simple” refuse to accept God’s wisdom as a guide for their lives and even refuse to hear and accept His guidance because they refuse to honor Him.

But, because of His love and grace, God continually reaches out to them, wanting to impart His wisdom to them. First, however, they must accept Him as Savior and enthrone Him as Lord.

God’s wisdom is available to those who hear and respect Him. Never forget that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Those who do not hear and fear Him will remain “simple.”

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for reaching out to us in love, and wanting us to have Your wisdom to guide us each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 1:4 For giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young. 

Devotional for 2-12-2019

LOOK AT IT THIS WAY…

“One thing is for certain about you, Guido,” he said as he looked at my messy desk, “you don’t have OCD!”

“What do you mean, I don’t have OCD?” I asked.

“Well, if you had an obsessive-compulsive disorder you would be arranging and rearranging your desk to make it neat and orderly. Then you would do it over and over again. But, it’s not neat, never has been, and probably never will be. I’ll bet that your drawers are the same.”

Realizing that he was right, I decided not to argue with him. He was a psychologist, and I was embarrassed.

Many people do arrange and then rearrange things. Some people do things over and over again, and then again, to make sure that everything is perfect, or as close to perfect as it can be. They check and then recheck what they have already checked. Being around people who have habits like that make me feel guilty. They have to do things right!

But there is a vast difference between doing things right and doing the right things. We can waste an entire day arranging and then rearranging food in our homes while our neighbor goes hungry. Or, we may arrange and then rearrange our cramped closets when we know there are people who wear worn out, ragged clothing because they have no other choice. We may be doing things right but we are certainly not doing the right things.

Righteousness in God’s Word is a combination of both behaviors. Not only do we want to do things right – as He commands us to do in His Word – but we must do the right things that will please and honor Him, as we serve others in need – spiritually and morally.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to be aware of how we do “righteousness.” May our lives meet Your expectations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Proverbs 1:3 For receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair. 

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