Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Proverbs 22:1 Better Than Riches

Proverbs 22: 1 (AMP)  A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.
This suggests integrity, honest, humility, faithfulness, keeping promises, etc. This is a person that you can trust and have confidence in. The apostle Paul was so confident in his “good name” that he encouraged the Christians in Corinth to “PATTERN YOURSELVES after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).” 1 Corinthians 11:1 (AMP)
Acts 16:1 (AMP) He [Timothy] had a good reputation among the brethren at Lystra and Iconium. 
Paul goes on to instruct Timothy that any person that is to be considered for leadership in the church must have a good name [reputation]. I am convinced that one of the greatest needs in the church today is authentic leadership of good report. 
1 Timothy 3:7 (AMP)Furthermore, he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil’s trap. 
Without doing damage to the context, this verse also suggests a good name with God. We are to “...rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20 b
Philippians 4: 3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Heavenly Father I thank you for Your consistent refining of my character. I have not always had a good name due to my immaturity, bad choices, and at times my willful disobedience. You have convicted me of my sins, led me to repentance and given me the will and courage to change. You have helped me to face those that I have disappointed and to reestablish my integrity in their eyes. Thank you that I have received their forgiveness and Yours! I love YOU my Lord and Savior. Amen

Monday, January 30, 2012

Proverbs 21:3 Obedience vs. Sacrifice

Proverbs 21:3 (NASB) To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.

I can see the emotional battle raging in Abraham as he hears the Word of the Lord in Genesis 22. “"Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."

To me Abraham exemplifies God’s admonition to do righteousness and justice, to walk in obedience and the fear of the Lord. He is a man with an intimate relationship with God that impacts every area of his life to include those he loves most! What courage, what faith that Abraham would offer the sacrifice that God had required.

As you continue to read the following scriptures you will see this recurring theme, obedience is better than sacrifice.

1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV)  So Samuel said: Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

Isaiah 1:11-17 (NLT) 11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.12 When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?13 Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your  offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting—they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.14 I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! 15 When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.16 Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways.17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

Hosea 6:6 (AMP) For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings.

Micah 6:8 (NKJV) 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
There are many Christians in sacrificial service in churches across America, teaching Sunday school, serving as board members and others in higher levels of church leadership. These “servants” sacrifice their time, finances, at times relationships and even their health. But are they walking in obedience? Are they living righteous lives and pursuing justice as lovers of mercy, serving God with integrity and humility? Are you?

In conclusion we read the words of Jesus as he weighs in on this topic, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:13 (NASB)
With deepest sincerity I echo the prayer of the Palmist, “Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Proverbs 20:22 Good vs. Evil

Proverbs 20:22 (AMP) Do not say, I will repay evil; wait [expectantly] for the Lord, and He will rescue you.
Proverbs 24:29 (NLT) And don’t say, “Now I can pay them back for what they’ve done to me! I’ll get even with them!”
When we are wronged, not only are we offended, at times we are also temped to retaliate. Strong emotions cry out for a strong response. This is only natural but not godly. As passionate followers of Jesus we are called to a higher past. We cannot be driven by our emotions and at the same time respond by the spirit. Out trust is in God, recognizing that He alone is our defense. We do not take matters into our own hands but “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous.Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14 (NLT)
This is difficult In the face of injustice. The caution is these verses is not one of inaction. Godly wisdom demands that we choose to respond to evil in the opposite spirit. As you read the following verses notice the specific call to ACTION, 1) Resist vengeance 2) Trust God for justice 3) do good to the offending party 4) pray 5) have pity.
Romans 12:17, 19-20 (AMP) 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone.; 19  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord. 20  But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. 21  Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 (AMP) See that none of you repays another with evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and to everybody.
1 Peter 3:9 (AMP) Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God--that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection].
Only as we give ourselves fully to the Lord can we hope to walk above the pain, to resist our sinful urges, and respond in the Spirit. To this we have been called! 
Heavenly Father, you know the weakness of my human nature. You know that at times I am angry at those who have hurt me or members of my family. PLEASE help me to obey you commands. Help me so that I am not overcome by evil. Help me to overcome by doing good. In Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Proverb 19:3 Angry With God

Proverbs 19:3 (AMP)  The foolishness of man subverts his way [ruins his affairs]; then his heart is resentful and frets against the Lord.
Proverbs 19:3 (NLT) People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.
I am not sure who all will read this post. Depending on where the reader is spiritually, it could prove to be offensive. The Word of God is true and gives considerable insight into human behavior. I have met men and woman, angry with God as though he had sinned against them. 
They cannot accept the truth that their behavior has brought them down. I have talked with people that are angry with God at the have loss of marriages, employment, being estranged from their children and more.  In every instance, they are the causes of their own calamities. When I have tried to talk with them they become defensive, avoiding the truth, denying, minimizing and blame shifting. They see themselves as victims.
Who are these foolish people? “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.” Jude 1:16 (NKJV)
Here is God’s response to those who are willful in their sin and blame God for their circumstances. Notice God’s heart toward them in verses 27-29.  This is a redemptive promise full of grace!
Ezekiel 18:23-29 (NKJV) 23 Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? says the Lord God, and not that he should turn from his ways and live? 24 But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. 25 Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair. Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. 28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, The way of the Lord is not fair. O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?
There are also people who would blame God for their moral failures, saying that they were set up, tempted by God himself. The apostle James addresses this accusation with absolute clarity. “Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. “ James 1:13 (NASB)  
Heavenly Father, thank you for the promise of your word. That if we turn from our sin you will forgive us and heal our broken lives. 

Proverbs 18: 10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe
The name of the Lord may be taken for the Lord himself; he is a strong tower, a refuge, and place of complete safety, to all that trust in him. What a strong fortress is to the besieged, the like is God to his persecuted, tempted, afflicted followers.” -- The Adam Clarke Commentary
Psalm 18:2 (AMP)  The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower.
Psalm 91:4 (NLT) 9 If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,10 no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.
2 Samuel 22:1-3 (NKJV)  1 Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.2 And he said: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;3 The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.
Psalm 61:1-4 (NLT) 1 O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer!2 From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety,3 for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.4 Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!
I think of the times in my walk with God, when I have been attacked and discouraged, times when I wondered if I would survive the pain of the trial. With breaking heart and countless tears I have called out to the LORD for strength, courage and the will to continue. I have personally experienced the truth and power of these verses! In my brokenness I found a refuge, a shelter, hope, compassion, understanding, I found my “strong tower.”
When you are facing your enemies of whatever sort they may be (rejection, fear, discouragement, unemployment, sickness, temptation, death) cry out to God. He will be your strength in times of weakness. He will give you courage in the face of fear. He will lift you up when your soul is pressed down. He will be your SAFE PLACE!

Heavenly Father, thank you for your promise to come to our aide. Thank you for the comfort you give in our times of sorrow. Thank you for your unending strength in our times of weakness. Thank you for the deep peace and joy that is ours in Your presence! I love you my dear and precious savior, my strong and mighty tower. Amen

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Proverbs 17:9

Proverbs 17: 9 (AMP)   He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.

When I read this verse I think And Noah. Genesis 9:20-27 20 (AMP) Noah began to cultivate the ground, and he planted a vineyard.21  And he drank of the wine and became drunk, and he was uncovered and lay naked in his tent.22  And Ham, the father of Canaan, glanced at and saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.23  So Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon the shoulders of both, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

What a striking example between his sons. Ham shows no compassion for his father but runs to expose his father’s nakedness to his brothers. How sad when “family” does not respond in love. This has happened to some of you. A moment of weakness, a poor decision, and you were left exposed. Instead of a loving response there was criticism, gossip, judgment, etc. What you needed was to be covered!

I love Matthew Henry’s commentary on verse Proverbs 17:9. “The way to preserve peace among relations and neighbors is to make the best of everything, not to tell others what has been said or done against them when it is not at all necessary to their safety, nor to take notice of what has been said or done against them when it is not at all necessary to their safety, nor to take notice of what has been said or done against ourselves, but to excuse both, and put the best construction upon them. "It was an oversight; therefore overlook it. It was done through forgetfulness; therefore forget it. It perhaps made nothing of you; do you make nothing of it. The ripping up of faults is the ripping out of love, and nothing tends more to the separating of friends, and setting them at variance, than the repeating of matters that have been in variance; for they commonly lose nothing in the repetition, but the things themselves are aggravated and the passions about them revived and exasperated. The best method of peace is by an amnesty or act of oblivion.”
-- Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible

1 Peter 4:8 (AMP)  Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].

It is a wise and loving person who seeks to “forgive and cover” transgressions. It is a choice we make to resist our fallen nature and to follow God’s example. Psalm 32:1 (NASB) 1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!

As passionate followers of Jesus Christ endeavor “. . . to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God’s service, Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.” Ephesians 4:1b-2 (AMP)

When we see a fellow Christian in spiritual trouble we do not idly stand by. With humility we reach out to them with God’s love, with a sincere desire to bring them to repentance.

James 5:19-20 (NASB) 19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back,20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Father God, how thankful I am that You have not dealt with me as my sins deserve. I am COVERED by Your love! Help me to model your compassion, to convince others of your kindness that they may be covered too. Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Proverbs 16:3

Proverbs 16:3 (AMP)  Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.
It is a wise man that remembers he is in a divine partnership. As noble and brilliant as our ideas may be, we must allow God to make the adjustments. No matter how earnest we are to see our plans fulfilled, God alone knows if they are for our good and His glory. 
Psalm 139:23-24 (AMP) 23  Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!24  And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
James 4:13-15 (Message) 13 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, "Today-at the latest, tomorrow-we're off to such and such a city for the year. We're going to start a business and make a lot of money."14 You don't know the first thing about tomorrow. You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.15 Instead, make it a habit to say, "If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that."
If we will humbly commit the desires of our heart to God He will bring us into alignment with His Devine will and therefore we will have success.
Psalm 37:5 (AMP) Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.
Heavenly Father, you know that I can be impulsive. I get ideas that I believe are inspired and like a race horse in the starting gate I am anxious to break loose and run the track. Help me to more deliberate in committing my thoughts, hopes and dreams to You. Adjust my thinking in keeping with your will and purpose for my life. Amen 

Proverbs 13:12

Proverbs 13:12 (AMP) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.

“When once a good is discovered, want of it felt, strong desire for the possession excited, and the promise of attainment made on grounds unsuspected, so that the reality of the thing and the certainty of the promise are manifest, hope posts forward to realize the blessing. Delay in the gratification pains the mind; the increase of the delay prostrates and sickens the heart; and if delay sickens the heart, ultimate disappointment kills it. But when the thing desired, hoped for, and expected comes, it is a tree of life, ets chaiyim, "the tree of lives;" it comforts and invigorates both body and soul.” -- The Adam Clarke Commentary
When hope is deferred we can become restless, confused, desperate, and even angry. We are tempted to take matters into our hands, to make something happen.
One of many examples is found in story of Abraham and his wife Sarah. Abraham now about 85 years old and Childless receives God’s promise that they will have children (Genesis 15:2-6). One year goes by and nothing! Having lost hope, heart sick, anxious and fearful, Sarah convinces Abraham that they need to take matters into their own hands. She convinces Abraham to sleep with her servant Hagar. The following year Hagar gives birth to Ishmael (Genesis 16:16). At age 99 the Lord speaks to Abraham a second time to reaffirm his promise to Abraham that he and Sarah will have children (Genesis 17:1). Finally after 15 long years Sarah gives birth to the promised son Isaac (Genesis 21:2,5).  The consequences of Sarah’s anxiety and the resulting birth if Ismael are still with us today. According to the Qur’an all Arabs are the decedents of Abraham through Ishmael. Need I say more!
Another response could be discouragement, despair, to include fear. “I can’t go on, its’ hopeless . . .” If unchecked this heartsickness can lead to severe depression and thoughts of suicide.
David having been relentlessly pursued by King Saul who is determined to kill him, facing difficulties of every kind from within and without over several decades boldly declares, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. “ Psalm 27:13-14 (NASB)
The Apostle Paul writes, “And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.” Galatians 6:9 (AMP) (Compare 2 Thessalonians 3:13)  
Heavenly Father, when in times of distress, when hope has faded and my heart is sick, lift my eyes. Help me to see beyond my loss and the pain in the moment, to the hope that I have in You.  Help me to remember your unfailing love and to be thankful for what remains. Amen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Proverbs 15:1

Proverbs 15:1 (AMP)  1  A SOFT answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger. 
“Mild words, gentle expressions, delivered with kindness and tenderness, humility and submission; these will work upon a man's passions, weaken his resentments, and break and scatter the storm of wrath raised in his breast.” --The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible
The persuasive power of soft speech is seen again in Proverbs 25:15 “By long forbearance and calmness of spirit a judge or ruler is persuaded, and soft speech breaks down the most bonelike resistance.” (AMP)
One of the fruits of the spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes], is self control [self-restraint], Galatians 5:23. We are instructed throughout the book of Proverbs that those who are wise exercise self-control in communication. Fools on the other hand yield fully to the emotion in the moment, talking without thinking about the consequence of their words.
Proverbs 15:2,4,28 (AMP) 2  The tongue of the wise utters knowledge rightly, but the mouth of the [self-confident] fool pours out folly.; 4  A gentle tongue [with its healing power] is a tree of life, but willful contrariness in it breaks down the spirit.;  28 The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.
I remember countless times when I have been the fool, embarrassed and ashamed of the things that came out of my mouth. I have wounded those that I love the most and offended others. With deep regret I have had to humble myself, go back confess my sin and ask for forgiveness from my wife, my children and others. What I have learned is that I need to be at my best when I feel at my worst. This can only be accomplished as I yield my life to the working of the Holy Spirit each and every day, not just in the moment!
Proverbs 18:21 (AMP) Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].
Father God, help me each day, moment by moment, to be yielded to your Spirit. Help me to be humble in my dealing with others, to be gentle with my words. Help me to speak life, to be a peace maker, to speak words that are good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace God’s favor to those who hear it. Amen (Ephesians 4:29b)

Proverbs 14:31

Proverbs 14:31 (AMP)  31  He who oppresses the poor reproaches, mocks, and insults his Maker, but he who is kind and merciful to the needy honors Him.

Could it be possible to make a stronger statement to us to remember the poor? We see this command again when Paul speaks with the Apostolic leadership in Jerusalem about his desire to take the gospel to the Gentiles. They give Paul their blessing with one admonition. In your preaching the good news always remember the poor. Here is his response. “They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.” (Galatians 2:10) 
Remembering the poor is not just about making an effort to meet their physical needs. It is also about showing mutual respect and human dignity. Read carefully the following words of James to the church, to you and me. 
James 2:2-13 (NLT) 1 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?2 For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes.3 If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, 4 doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? 5 Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?6 But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? 7 Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? 8 Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. 10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free.13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
Several years ago a missionary came to speak at our church. It was a compelling story about his work with orphaned children overseas and their desperate need for additional housing. My heart broke as he shared his love and sacrifice for these poor kids. I sensed God speaking to me to give the money from my retirement account, all of it! I was shocked! It wasn’t much by some standards but it was all we had. I struggled with the request and hesitantly turned to my wife Linda and told her what I thought God was asking of us. After a very short conversation and prayer she agreed. We have never regretted our decision and were thankful for the leading of the Holy Spirit and the opportunity to help.   
1 John 3:17 (NLT) If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? 
Heavenly Father, thank you for the mercy that you have shown to my family and me me over the years. There have been so many times when you have blessed us in unexpected and miraculous ways. You have given us the faith and courage to open our hearts to so many. Help us to remain faithful, to honor the poor and to honor You. Amen

Friday, January 20, 2012

Proverbs 12:25

Proverbs 12: 25 (AMP)  Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but an encouraging word makes it glad.
Anxiety is a real concern that all of us face from time to time. Some people have a predisposition to anxiety and depression and struggle often. Others, like me, usually see the glass half full. I will be truthful with you. There have been numerous times in my life when in crisis, that anxiety had me in its clammy grip. I remember one time in particular when I wondered if I could live through the crushing pain.

Speaking on this verse a noted theologian wrote, “Here is the cause and consequence of melancholy. It is heaviness in the heart; it is a load of care, and fear, and sorrow, upon the spirits, depressing them, and disabling them to exert themselves with any vigour on what is to be done or fortitude in what is to borne; it makes them stoop, prostrates and sinks them. Those that are thus oppressed can neither do the duty nor take the comfort of any relation, condition, or conversation. Those therefore that are inclined to it should watch and pray against it.” --Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible

Over the years I have learned to rely upon the truth of God’s word and found great comfort in the following verses. I have shared them often with others and watched as they come out of the cold shadows of despair into the warmth and light of hope. 

1 Peter 5:7 (AMP)  Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully

Psalm 55:22 (AMP)  Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail).

Isaiah 26:3-4 (AMP) 3  You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.4  So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].
Philippians 4:6-7 (AMP) 6  Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.7  And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  
Job says it so well. “[But] I would strengthen and encourage you with [the words of] my mouth, and the consolation of my lips would soothe your suffering.” Job 16:5 (AMP) 
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT) 3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
Heavenly father, thank you for the comfort that you have given me over the years. Thank you for the many people you have brought into my life who walked with me in times of darkness and despair. Thank you for the ministry of the Holy Spirit who continually pulled me forward, refusing to leave me in my anxious moments. Thank you for the way You have continually pursued me, forgiving me, refreshing me, and guiding me in your marvelous truth. I love You with all my soul!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Proverbs 11:9,12,13

Proverbs 11:9, 12-13 (AMP), 9 With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge and superior discernment shall the righteous be delivered 12 He who belittles and despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent.13 He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy and faithful in spirit keeps the matter hidden.

Take a moment to think . . . How many times have you been disappointed or hurt emotionally because of gossip, accusation or slander? Painful wasn’t it? And how many times do we join into a conversation were we and others may be slandering someone else? I must confess, it has been to often! You hear that little tidbit, that juicy morsel of information and your hooked. “Are you serious . . . I can’t believe it!! Tell me more.” “O and by the way . . .” Sound familiar?

The scripture is painfully clear. Gossip, loose talk, and reckless words promote quarrels, compromise relationships and injure others. Take the time to read these additional verses.

Proverbs 16:28 (AMP) A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates close friends
Proverbs 21:23 (AMP) He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from troubles.
Proverbs 25:9 (CEV) When you and someone else can’t get along, don’t gossip about it.
Proverbs 26:20 (NLT) Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.

There is a lot of wisdom is what is not said and many would agree. Carlyle wrote: "Silence is more eloquent than words", a German proverb says: "Speech is silver; silence is golden." La Bruyere said: "It is a great misfortune neither to have enough wit to talk well nor enough judgment to be silent." Syrus reflected: "I regret often that I have spoken; never that I have been silent." I cannot help but  remember of the number of times that my mouth has gotten me into trouble when silence would have kept me out of it!

These last two verses sum up todays prayer for me.

Psalm 141:3 (AMP) Set a guard, O Lord, before my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.

Ephesians 4:29 (AMP) Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Proverbs 10:17

Proverbs 10:17 (AMP) He who heeds instruction and correction is [not only himself] in the way of life [but also] is a way of life for others. And he who neglects or refuses reproof [not only himself] goes astray [but also] causes to err and is a path toward ruin for others.

I believe there are two distinct messages in this verse. The first regards our response to discipline. There are many people that would have a difficult time with verses like this. Memories of their childhood are painful. Discipline was unjust and at times abusive, creating fear and anxiety. For others correction was measured out justly, most of the time and though unpleasant in the moment, in the end they knew they were loved.

As followers of Jesus, we are His beloved children and as such, God instructs and disciplines us that we can mature in our faith and walk in the joy and peace of unbroken fellowship with Him.  The writer of Hebrews compares the discipline of parents to that of God’s. “They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:10-11 (NIV)

The second message is that it’s not just about us! How we live our lives can affect others for good or bad. It is deceptive to think otherwise. Paul followed Jesus and he became an example to others. To the Christians in Thessalonica Paul wrote, “you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia (Thessalonians 1:6).

The opposite is also true, we can be a bad influence, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20) Paul wrote “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians 13:33)

Heavenly Father, help me to readily accept your instruction and correction. When corrected, help me to own my actions. I do not want to minimize or cast blame on others to excuse my own faults. Help me to mature in my faith and my love for You. I pray You will work in and through me that I may be an influence for good and bring honor to Your Name! Amen

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Proverbs 9:7-9

Proverbs 9: 7-9 (AMP) 7  He who rebukes a scorner heaps upon himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man gets for himself bruises.8  Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. 9  Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wiser; teach a righteous man (one upright and in right standing with God) and he will increase in learning.
Though the Gospel is to be proclaimed to everyone, even to those who have contempt for the message, yet when they despise, ridicule and mock it, you must move on.  To rebuke the wicked will only create animosity toward you that will bring reproach to you and your message. In life teach the teachable, instruct those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Time is precious so invest yourself in others wisely!
Heavenly Father, give me the courage and compassion to share the truth of your love with all men and the wisdom to know who to invest my life in that I may be fruitful extending Your Kingdom on the earth. Amen.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reflections on Proverbs 8:13

Proverbs 8:13 (AMP) The reverent fear and worshipful awe of the Lord [includes] the hatred of evil; pride, arrogance, the evil way, and perverted and twisted speech I hate.
The fear of the Lord is not neutral, rather it is active. We can never be free from evil if we are passive! To say that we fear the Lord and yet do little or nothing to combat the evil in our individual lives and in the world around us is hypocritical. The scripture demands that we turn from evil (Psalm 37:27) and  overcome evil with the good that we do (Romans 12:21). Because we fear the Lord we do not repay evil for evil (Romans 12:17). The fear of the Lord is evident in our daily lives and thought process in that we refuse compromise living above reproach, abstaining from even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).  
Like the Psalmist I pray, search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24). Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name (Psalm 86:11).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reflections on Proverbs 7:1-4

Proverbs 7:1-4 (NASB) 1 My son, keep my words And treasure my commandments within you.2 Keep my commandments and live, And my teaching as the apple of your eye.3 Bind them on your fingers; Write them on the tablet of your heart.4 Say to wisdom, "You are my sister," And call understanding your intimate friend;
The language here and in chapter 6 & 7 is emphatic. If one desires to truly follow the Lord he/she MUST intentionally embrace godly wisdom which is God’s divinely inspired Word, the final authority in all matters of human thought, speech and conduct. How can one say that they are Christians, lovers of God, if they willfully, consistently disobey His commandments? Jesus said If you love Me, keep My commandments.”John 14:15.  These commandments are born out of His all consuming love for us. As a loving father, His desire is to protect and enable us to escape the ravages of sin (1 Peter 1:2-4) that we might live lives filled with joy and peace in unbroken fellowship. 
Father God, thank you for your love. Thank you for the way you continually pursue me. Thank you for your truth and wisdom that guides and protects me. Forgive me for those times when I am resistive, when I want to go my own way. Forgive me for being so self-willed and disobedient at times. I do love you and with all my heart I embrace you as my Lord and savior, my friend, my Abba Father!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reflections on Proverbs 5:15-19

It doesn’t get any clearer than this my friends! Godly wisdom demands a monogamous relationship with your spouse. 
Proverbs 5:15-19 (NLT) 15 Drink water from your own well—share your love only with your wife.16 Why spill the water of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone?17 You should reserve it for yourselves.Never share it with strangers.18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.Rejoice in the wife of your youth.19 She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always.May you always be captivated by her love.
Hebrews 13:4 (Message) Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.
Father God, help me to guard my heart (Proverbs 4:23) to protect my marriage, to avoid sexual temptation and to preserve what Linda and I have built together these 36 years!

Reflections on Proverbs 4:11-12

Proverbs 4:11-12 (AMP)  11  I have taught you in the way of skillful and godly Wisdom [which is comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God]; I have led you in paths of uprightness.12  When you walk, your steps shall not be hampered [your path will be clear and open]; and when you run, you shall not stumble.
The Lord has done his part and given us everything we need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3-4). As we yield to His wisdom our path is illuminated and made straight (Isaiah 42:16). Obstacles are removed, we walk unrestrained and run with certainty!
Father God I yield my will to yours. I surrender my pride and cling to your wisdom. Lead me in the  path you have ordained. Guid my steps, shine your light upon my path. Enable me to accomplish your purpose for my life. Amen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reflections on Proverbs 3:3-7

Proverbs 3:3-4 (AMP) 3  Let not mercy and kindness [shutting out all hatred and selfishness] and truth [shutting out all deliberate hypocrisy or falsehood] forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them upon the tablet of your heart. 4  So shall you find favor, good understanding, and high esteem in the sight [or judgment] of God and man.
When you are intentional to practice mercy (the absence of hatred and selfishness) and kindness (the absence of deliberate hypocrisy and falsehood), your reward is favor with God and man. This can only be accomplished as we embrace the following scripture. 
5  Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.6  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.7  Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil. 
To extend mercy and kindness we must push beyond our intellect and emotions. We must yield to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of God’s Word. Heavenly Father, help me to hear your voice and to quickly yield to your wisdom and will. Help me to be less self-centered, to be less resistive, to be more yielded to exercise godly wisdom.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reflections on Proverbs

1: 9 (AMP)  Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and fair dealing [in every area and relation]; yes, you will understand every good path.
WOW . . . What a promise! Having the godly wisdom to navigate relationships of every kind with justice, fairness and understanding the path God wants me to walk.  Oh God, may it be so in my life!

Reflections on Proverbs

Proverbs 2:4-5 (AMP) 4 If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures,5 Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God. 
I have often prayed that the fear of the Lord would increase in my life, knowing that where there is a lack of the fear of the lord there is an abundance of transgression. My sincere desire is to live a life that honors my faith and encourages others in their pursuit of God. Having a growing understanding of God’s love and of the fear of the Lord are both essential.
Heavenly Father, I pray that in this new year I will grow in godly wisdom, with a deeper humility and dependance upon YOU. 

Proverbs 1:23 (AMP)

If you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold, I [wisdom] will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make my words known to you.
Father God, led me into repentance, break my heart, mold and shape me as you will. Pour out Your Spirit upon me and make your words known to me, please!