Wisdom as a virtuous woman!

Scripture reading for July 11: Proverbs 30-31

As Proverbs comes to it’s conclusion, it ends with emphasis on the godly wife and mother.  Wisdom was described as a virtuous woman in several locations in Proverbs. (Proverbs 8 and 9:1-12) The contrast of this virtuous woman was another woman, “Folly”.  (Proverbs 9:13-18) Folly was a prostitute and lacked sense.  She wouldn’t stay at home and was often on the prowl.  Her door led to death and the grave and many were the number she had slain!  (Proverbs 7:26-27)

Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the wife of noble character.  This description of the noble wife has stood as a pattern for women throughout the ages of godliness and righteous living.  This godly wife is a worker and is trustworthy. (Proverbs 31:11-17)  She is up and busy providing for the needs of her household.  She cares for the poor and needy with her excess.  She is thoughtful for the future and plans ahead.  She clothes her children with scarlet and her husband is honored in the city gate.  She speaks with wisdom and is clothed with dignity and strength.  Her children and husband bless her and honor her!  She fears the Lord and will be given her reward at the city gate! I am thankful for my wife–a godly woman!

This woman is also like the Bride of Christ!  The “Bride” is a worker and is faithful and trusted by Jesus Christ.  The Bride is busy and cares for the needs of the household of faith.  She provides garments of scarlet–coverings of the Blood over all her true children!  She reaches out to the poor and needy with gracious giving.  She is mindful of the future return of the Bridegroom and makes preparations and is assured that She will be ready!  She speaks with wisdom and is clothed by her Husband with dignity and strength!  Her children and Husband honor her!  She will receive her reward at the city gate and Her works will praise Her–The New Jerusalem!

Are you in the Bridal company and ‘betrothed’ to Jesus Christ? Are you busy providing a godly example and covering of prayer for your family and friends?  Let’s stay busy and working for the day of His appearing is coming quickly!  This is true and godly wisdom!

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Word pictures!

Scripture reading for July 10: Proverbs 25-29

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.  Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.” Proverbs 25:11-12

Word pictures help us to grasp and remember sayings of the wise.  These word pictures come back to us and we can meditate on them and begin to apply them and pray for God to work them into our lives.  This is the process of the renewing of the mind.  It involves us reading the sayings and then remembering them and saying them again and again.  We allow them to come into our heart and bring understanding.

This proverb tells us of words that are spoken at just the right time and in the right tone.  They are not many words but sometimes only a “word”.  They are beautiful to look at as fine art and have a good ring in our ear.  They bring to mind pictures that can reveal more to us than words.  They are the “pleasant words that promote instruction”.  (Proverbs 16:21)

The earring of gold or ornament of fine gold reminded the reader of what a “listening ear” might look like if it received correction from a wise man.  It would be pleasant to look at and decorated beautifully with richness of fine gold.  The wise man receives correction so that he can be wiser still.  The fool rejects correction and has no earring of fine gold!

“Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.” Proverbs 25:19

This proverb uses a painful bad tooth or a lame foot that can’t support any weight because of the pain and brokenness to tell a story to those who will listen.  An unfaithful man is just like that tooth that aches and causes discomfort.  He is like the lame foot that is of no help moving forward or carrying a load.  Faithfulness is a prized character trait of the wise and choosing faithful helpers, counselors and leaders is a wise move for everyone who has an ear to hear this word aptly spoken!

The proverbs contain many more of these pithy statements and word pictures that carry a picture and a message.  Take some time and jot down several that speak to you.  Share them with a spouse, friend or fellow-traveler in this journey through life.  Your just may put a “gold earring or ornament of fine gold” in the listening ear!

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Wisdom to rule and live!

Scripture reading for July 9: Proverbs 22-24

The Bible teaches that we are all designed to rule and have dominion!  Adam was given dominion over creation in order to tend and care for it as God desired and instructed.  (Genesis 1:27-28)   We need God’s wisdom because He is the source of all wisdom and authority and created all things for His purposes.  The proverbs offer wisdom to those in authority to enable them to effectively rule with the mind of God.

Proverbs emphasizes our need for humility.  (Proverbs 22:4)  When we fear the Lord, God gives us discernment between good and evil.  When we choose the good consistently we get wealth, honor and life  as added benefits.  We also get a good name and reputation, something that money can’t buy! (Proverbs 22:1)  Keeping humility when God has blessed you can be a real test, for many times prosperity causes pride and God is forgotten or not honored.

When a king rules, he acts on behalf of God.   Rulers are to treat the poor with equity and respect.  (Proverbs 22:16, 22-23)  When the poor are mistreated, God Himself promises to take up their case and rule on their behalf!  Rulers must stay away from the adulteress and the hot-tempered man.  (Proverbs 22:14, 24; 23:26-28)  Both of those people lead to trouble.  When rulers judge in court, they must be sure to convict the guilty and not show partiality or take a bribe.  God will bless righteous judgment and integrity!  (Proverbs 24:23-25)  Also, do not seek revenge because that is for God alone!  (Proverbs 24:29)

Those in authority must avoid drunkenness and laziness.  (Proverbs 23:29-35)  Drinking takes away your ability to have sound judgment and to see clearly.  It causes violence and strife and quarrels.  A hangover comes the next day and bloodshot eyes!  It poisons our life like a snake-bite!  The second warning is against laziness.  (Proverbs 24:30-34)   Laziness causes life to fall into ruin around you.  Your life looks like a field that is not tended.  Walls of protection are broken down and enemies steal the crop.  Weeds grow and choke it out and thorns are a sign that the curse is at work.  Laziness leads to poverty and lack!

Is you life marked by humility and respect for God? In your leadership, are you applying the wisdom of God in setting a good example? “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” Proverbs 22:4

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Sluggards, mockers, and meddlers!

Scripture reading for July 8th: Proverbs 18-21

When we lived in Washington state near Olympia for six years, we  experienced slugs for the first time.  After a rain, which was almost daily, the slugs came out, crawling on the sidewalks.  They left slimy trails and if you picked them up, you felt slimy too!  They did not move very fast but inched along like a snail.  I imagine that the sluggard in the Bible is named after that slow and slimy animal!

The Bible talks more about the sin of laziness than that of drunkenness.  Proverbs 19:15 says that laziness and sleeping go together and the result is a shiftless man who goes hungry!  We are warned in Proverbs 20:13 that loving sleep results in poverty!  The lazy man is called a “sluggard” in Proverbs 19:24.  He is accused of being so lazy that he cannot even feed himself!  The sluggard is always craving but never satisfied because he refuses to work!  The sluggard is shouting “there’s a lion outside” or “I will be murdered in the streets.”  His excuses to keep from work are ridiculous! (Proverbs 23:13)

The mocker is the next term dealt with in today’s reading.  A mocker is someone who makes fun of God’s Word and ways, preferring to do things their own way.  Mockers deserve flogging because they lead others astray.  (Proverbs 19:25, 29) Mockers are often involved in drinking and mock when they are drunk with wine or beer.  (Proverbs 20:1)  Proverbs 21:24 names the proud and arrogant man “mocker”.  Mockers are fools because they lack discernment and fail to value God or His Word! God’s Word says to drive out the mocker to remove strife, quarrels and insults!  (Proverbs 22:10)

Meddling in affairs that are not yours often fills the time of a lazy person.  Proverbs 20:3 states that it is a man’s honor to avoid strife and quarreling.  Proverbs 20:19 warns against gossip and meddling as a source of trouble.  Guarding your mouth and tongue will keep you from calamity!  (Proverbs 21:23)  We are to seldom set our foot in our neighbor’s house because with too much of us, he will end up hating us!  (Proverbs 25:17)  If you want to really get into trouble, meddle in a quarrel that is not your own!  It will be like taking a dog by it’s ears!  (Proverbs 26:17)

Evaluate your own life and take appropriate action before it’s too late!  Are you loving sleep, meddling in others lives, or mocking God’s Word? Poverty, beatings, and a Doberman Pincer by the ears should be warning enough!

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Sunday rest and reflection: wise living!

Dear Friends,   Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ, the only wise God!  What a day to be alive and learning to know and love God!  The signs are everywhere of the last days and God’s Word tells us to live wisely and make the most of our time as we see the Day of Christ approaching. (Ephesians 5:15-16)  Those who are righteous will become more righteous and live by the Spirit, following Christ more closely.  Those who are wicked will become more wicked, following their own flesh and the evil spirits of this world more closely.  (Revelation 22:10-11)

As we read Proverbs, we are exposed to wisdom for successful daily living.  The proverbs were wise sayings and nuggets of God’s truth that would help to discern the right path.  These truths were particularly helpful to youth and children who were beginning their walk through life.  Parents were to teach their children wise living.  They taught by impressing truth on the hearts of the young during daily meals, Sabbath day church gatherings, work, and sharing at bedtime around the fire.

According to God’s Word, wise living always centered on loving God and obeying His commandments.  This wisdom has it’s beginning in a deep respect for God as Creator and giver of life!  The term used in Scripture is the ‘fear of the Lord’.  Parents teach the ‘fear of the Lord’ by their attitude towards God and God’s house.  Regular church attendance and worship is a good indication of a desire to live wisely.  Daily study of the Word of God and prayer are spiritual disciplines that indicate a desire to know God’s will in order to submit to it and obey it.  Wise living honors God’s Word as the rule of faith and practice.  We treat it with respect and believe it is truth–all of it!  When we cut out parts of the Bible because it doesn’t line up with what ‘science’ teaches or with what we want to believe, then we have lost our fear of the Lord and our ability to know truth.  This is a dangerous place to be!

In the last days, men will refuse a love of the truth, believe a lie, and end up in damnation.  (2nd Thessalonians 2:9-12)  When we have no fear of God or His Word, a delusion of deception blinds us even further.  We lose our ability to discern right from wrong.  We end up delighting in wickedness and going to our destruction.    Now is the time to press on to know the Lord and live wisely in obedience and faith.  Jesus is coming soon!  (Revelation 22:20)

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The ‘heart/tongue’ connection!

Scripture reading for July 6th: Proverbs 14-17

According to God’s Word, there is a definite connection between the heart and the tongue.  The heart is the source of everything that the tongue speaks. The heart isn’t just the organ that pumps the life blood of a person, however. According to Jesus, the heart of man is the source of  “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.”  (Mark 7:21)   These ungodly sins come from the un-redeemed heart and then the mouth speaks and directs a person into the trouble.

There are several proverbs that relate to the heart and the tongue.  Proverbs 14:3 states that “a fool’s talk brings a rod to his back but the lips of the wise protect them.”  “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge but the mouth of fools gushes folly.”  (Proverbs 15:2)    Proverbs 17:20 tells of a man with a perverse heart and a deceitful tongue. Punishment awaits those with perverse hearts and lips that speak lies. The Lord detests all who are proud of heart and He promises punishment! (Proverbs 16:5)

The wise person has a heart that is discerning and lips that promote instruction.  (Proverbs 16:21)  The wise man’s heart guides his mouth and brings forth pleasant words that are sweet to the soul and promote healing.  (Proverbs 16:23-24)  It is the fear of the Lord that teaches the heart wisdom,  and humility brings understanding and honor.  (Proverbs 15:32-33)  As we think of Jesus Christ and His own life of humility and living in the fear of the Lord, we see how His heart guided his mouth.  We are reminded of lips that brought healing and pleasant words of instruction.  He only said what His father said, and did what His Father did! (John 5:19)

Do you need a new heart and a clean mouth?  The good news is that a new heart is available today through Jesus Christ!  He was totally pure in heart and perfectly obedient to the Father in order to give His life as a sacrifice for us to free us from our sins!  If you will confess your sins to Him,  He is faithful and just and will forgive you of your sins and cleanse your heart. 

“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.  I will put my laws in their hearts and I will write them on their minds.”  Then He adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:16-17)

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Contrasting life-styles!

Scripture reading for July 5: Proverbs 10-13

Contrast is a literary device used in many of the proverbs to help convey truth.  One of the contrasts is of the righteous man and the wicked man.  The righteous man is wise and fears the Lord and the wicked man is foolish and hates God’s Word and God’s laws.   Let’s  look at these two types of people and try to evaluate our own lives as we read about them.  We can learn from good examples as well as bad!  I often say that if a person is not good for anything else, he can always be a bad example! Ouch!

Let’s look first at the foolish or wicked man.  Proverbs 10:1 states that the foolish son brings grief to his mother.  The foolish man is lazy and sleeps during harvest instead of working. (Proverbs 10:4-5) The wicked man’s mouth is filled with violence and his hatred causes dissension and strife.  They speak perverse things. (Proverbs 10:11-12, 31-32) The wicked earn wages of punishment and poverty.  (Proverbs 10:15-16)  The fool finds pleasure in evil conduct and lives in fear and dread of punishment that is sure to come upon him.  (Proverbs 10:23-24)  The wicked have no hope! (Proverbs 10:28, 11:23)  Their own ways insure judgment and ruin in their lives and in the lives of those around them.  (Proverbs 10:27-29)  The wicked may gain wealth, but it will not help them in the day of judgment! (Proverbs 11:4, 18)  There will be shouts of joy when the wicked perish from the land.  (Proverbs 11:10, 20-21) 

The righteous man or wise son is a joy to his father!  (Proverbs 10:1)  His righteousness delivers him from death and hunger and lack.  He is a worker and enjoys plenty because he gathers the crops during harvest season.  (Proverbs 10:3-5)  He is blessed and his memory is a blessing to those he has touched.  (Proverbs 10:6-7)  He is always open to correction and is teachable. (Proverbs 10:17)   His mouth is a fountain of life and wisdom is found on his lips. (Proverbs 10:8-11)   He is a man of integrity and rests securely.  His love covers over many wrongs. (Proverbs 10:12)  He enjoys a long and joyful life because his way is the Lord’s way!  (Proverbs 10:27-29)   He is rescued from trouble and escapes destruction because of his wisdom and faithfulness to the Lord!  His life blesses the city he lives in and he prospers!  (Proverbs 11:10-11)  God delights in the righteous man because his ways are blameless!  He is generous and gives, yet gains even more! (Proverbs 11:20,24-25)  He is a tree of life and wins souls!  (Proverbs 11:30)

Which of these contrasting life-styles have you chosen to walk in? Do you have the fruit of a righteous life-style or that of the wicked?  The choice is yours and today may be your only day to choose!

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Beware of seduction!

Scripture reading for July 4th: Proverbs 5-9

“My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.  For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil.  But in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.  Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.” (Proverbs 5:1-5)

Solomon’s warning to his sons stands as a warning to men of all ages and times.  Many have heard these words and read them, but did not heed the warning and experienced the promised results.  Headlines blare every day about another famous person, politician, minister, or actor who has committed adultery.  It is almost a badge of honor to those who are caught up in the world system!  God calls it “sin” and it was punishable by stoning to death in the Old Testament!  Adultery leads to shame, disgrace, and ultimately death.  This sin is also a form of idolatry that breaks our relationship with God!

Satan has used women and sexual desires to cause the ruin and death of many throughout history.  Solomon’s own father, David, succumbed to the temptation of adultery and his sin has been read about for over 3000 years!  Solomon, himself, had over 1000 women in his harem.  These wives were his downfall, because many worshiped idols and they brought idolatry into Solomon’s life!  Sexual promiscuity is itself related to idolatry.  We are setting up our desires as superior to the Word of God and creating an idol out of our own appetite!

Many times, men recklessly believe that they will not be seen or caught in their adulterous forays.  Even if the affair is secret to all others, God sees everything !  (Proverbs 5:21)  God promises us that the cords of our sin will hold us fast and we will die for our lack of discipline!  (Proverbs 5:22-23)  Often men blame the women for enticing them or they may blame their own wife for a lack of sex or affection.  The truth of the matter is God sees it as their own folly that is at fault!

The Bible is very clear on the consequences of adultery.  Death and the grave are both mentioned more than once as a consequence of going in with an adulteress. (Proverbs 5:5) (Proverbs 7:27)  Regret, oppression, depression and misery are also mentioned as following the adulteress.  (Proverbs 5:9-14; Proverbs 6:33)   Possible retaliation by the husband of the adulteress could cost your life and peace! (Proverbs 6:34-35)  The verse that talks about taking fire into his lap may be referring to sexually transmitted diseases.  (Proverbs 6:27) 

Are you involved in the seductive sin of adultery? Are your own desires and appetites an idol that you worship? Please listen to our Lord.  Jesus Christ has been made to us our Wisdom!  (1st Corinthians 1:30)

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Hearing or listening?

Scripture reading for July 3th: Proverbs 1-4

I have personally read Proverbs dozens of times over the last forty years.  For many years I read the entire book of Proverbs each month as a daily discipline.  Even though I have read or heard Proverbs many times, I am still impressed at how they speak to us about our daily lives.  Wisdom is a bubbling brook!

Hearing and listening can be two different things.  Almost everyone can hear what is being said but listening in order to learn and apply truth is a different process requiring humility and a teachable spirit.  As we begin the book of Proverbs, take a moment to check your hearing and listening abilities.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you new insights about successful living and decision making.

Solomon was David’s son through his wife Bathsheba.  Solomon was visited by God and given an opportunity to ask for anything he desired.  He asked for wisdom to rule God’s people.  God was pleased and the proverbs are some of the written record of the wisdom God blessed Solomon with.  Solomon wanted to pass that wisdom on to his sons (and us).  The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.  (Proverbs 1:7)  There are those who either don’t want wisdom and Solomon gives them names like ‘simple’, ‘fool’, and ‘mocker’. (Proverbs 1:7, 22)  Thankfully, those names are not descriptive of any of us!

Wisdom’s blessings include knowledge and discretion to the young as well as guidance.  (Proverbs 1:4-5)  It brings safety to those who listen and they have rest and no fear of harm.  (Proverbs 1:33)  A person who listens to wisdom understands the fear of the Lord and finds knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5) You will be kept safe from wicked men who are on crooked paths leading to destruction.  (Proverbs 2:12-15)   You will also avoid the adulterous woman and her path that leads to death. (Proverbs 2:16-19)  Listening and keeping wisdom brings long life and prosperity.  (Proverbs 3:2)  Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her and they will be richly blessed!  (Proverbs 3:18)

Wisdom is to be prized above any other treasure.  (Proverbs 3:13-15)  We must lay hold of wisdom by taking hold of the words given by the Father.  (Proverbs 4:1-5)  We must hold onto instructions of wisdom and guard them.  Wisdom is our life and health to our whole body!  (Proverbs 4:22)  Wisdom is to reside in our heart! (Proverbs 4:23)  Wisdom sounds a lot like Jesus Christ, in Whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! (Colossians 2:2-3)

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Praise the Lord!

Scripture reading for July 2: Psalm 146-150

The hymn book of the Old Testament concludes with stirring songs of praise.  Life is to be lived in worship to the King!  Real joy and peace come from a life centered on the goodness and greatness of God the Creator!  Worship is much more than singing a few songs at church on Sunday, it flows from His creation!

In Psalm 146 the psalmist declares he is going to praise the Lord all of his life!  He warns us not to put our trust in princes, mortal men who cannot save!  Many are caught up in the idea of a political leader who can save. These will die and their plans will come to nothing! (Psalm 146:3-4)  Only the God who created the heaven and earth can save!  This God is faithful forever!  He can be counted on by the poor, needy, oppressed and hungry!  He watches over the alien, widow, and the fatherless!  (Psalm 146:7-9) 

Psalm 147 is a hymn of praise to the Lord for Jerusalem, His holy city and it’s chosen people.  God has built up Jerusalem and gathered the exiles of Israel.  He has healed them and sends provision.  God’s people are to praise and honor Him for His mighty deeds on their behalf!  God’s delight is in His people! (Psalm 147:11)  He blesses them and protects them and deserves their worship!  (Psalm 147:12-14) He has given them His Word and laws, making them special among nations!  Praise the Lord! (Psalm 147:19-20)

Psalms 148 commends all creation and the saints for their praise of the Lord!  Angels praise Him in the heights.  The sun, moon and stars praise Him.  He named them and set them in place!  (Psalm 148:3-6)  From the earth, sea creatures and fish, mountains and valleys and animals praise Him!  (Psalm 148:7-10)  Mankind, young and old, rich and poor all owe Him praise for His splendor! (Psalm 148:14)

Psalm 149 calls upon God’s covenant people, Israel, to praise the Lord!  They are to dance, sing, and make music with instruments!  They are to sing a new song and rejoice, even on their beds!  The psalm then shifts from praise of God in their mouths to a double edged sword in their hands!  They are to praise the Lord as they inflict vengeance on the nations and peoples who have rebelled against the Lord!  These are under a sentence of death from God!  (Psalm 149:6-9)  This is the “glory of all His saints.”  Wow!

Psalm 150:6 sums it all up and closes the hymnal!  “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.”

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