Nothing New Under the Sun

Chapters 1-4 of Ecclesiastes (eh/kle/see/as/tees; which might rhyme with “meh – see the nasties”)

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Tuesday, January 31

Many Bible books were named from a key word near the start of the book, which often means they are named after the author. That is sort-of the case with Ecclesiastes, but the author’s name isn’t used in the book so it picks up a title the author took. In Hebrew that title could mean “lecturer”: it comes from the word for “gatherer” and the idea is that he gathered information and then passed it along. When the book got translated into Greek this lecture-teaching was described as preaching, so its title now is a word for “preacher.” You might wish that the name of the book was translated to English when the book was. (By the way, “ecclesia” is the Greek word that normally is translated as “church” in the New Testament). We read the book of Proverbs, a collection of wise statements that often gives advice. We read the book of Psalms, a collection of poems which often call on God. You could get the impression that our current book is a collection of downer thoughts about life. That is how a lot of people have read this book, and it is understandable if some of what we read in Ecclesiastes seems sad to us, but there is more going on here than that.

In over 20 places the book says a thing is “meaningless”, but that doesn’t mean “don’t do it”, it is more about looking at things from a long perspective and saying that the “meaningless” event or action doesn’t really change things. Certainly that is true if we look at things from the perspective of generations (1:3). The verses keep returning to the idea of our work, our labors. In the short term they can bring us satisfaction, and we are meant to accept that, it is a gift from God (3:13). But we also should be careful how we view things, never totally forgetting the big picture.

If you haven’t heard the song that Pete Seeger made out of the lines in 3:1-8, check it out (“To Everything There is a Season”). Part of the point of the verses is that we can never emphasize one thing as “the point” for our actions, what is pushed in one direction will also be pushed in another. Nothing we change stays that way forever.

An obvious example for this is eating. You can feel really hungry, say right before a church potluck that has been delayed, and then a few minutes after you eat you have no interest in food at all. But a few hours later you will be hungry again. You can’t eat enough to end the cycle, and we can ask how much importance there is in any one meal we ever eat – but we certainly cannot skip all of them.

So, that cupcake you ate the other week may have tasted good, but does it still please you? That binge-session on Netflix of sit-com episodes? Almost certainly meaningless. The test you are studying for may make a big difference to your grades – but for how many years will it matter what grades you received? It is possible to poke holes in every form of human labor and success, but “wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness” (2:13). The wise person may recognize, like the Preacher, that success is temporary in this world, but it is still better to be wise.

The Preacher / Teacher is described as a king of Jerusalem, and many people tag him as Solomon late in life. It may require being a powerful king to test all the things the Preacher tested, to see what would make him happy. He could do what he wanted, and none of it was enough. But some of the simplest things, the inexpensive things, can bring happiness to us – we just know that none of it lasts. “Happily ever after” doesn’t have much sense behind it, because people are not immortal, and the struggles of this world don’t just get skipped over for the people who want to serve God.

In a way this book is an extended piece of wise-talk, like Proverbs has, but directed to just one issue – what the point of this life is. If this world were the one God was aiming for in the first place we could expect the Preacher to give us a more positive answer, but this world is what resulted from sin. God is in the process of fixing things.

This is the book about “meaningless” (temporary) things where there is “nothing new under the sun” (in this world) and both wise and foolish people “chase after the wind” but can’t catch it, and get nothing from the chase. But along with all the comments about our work not changing things, or being undone or forgotten, we get comments about the endless importance of what God does (3:14). Maybe that is a hint at the future. What God does lasts forever, and God sent Jesus to die for us and God raised Jesus from death as the first-fruits of many who will come to immortality and live with him forever.

If you find yourself getting dragged down by anything this book says, you could question if that is because it is telling you truth you didn’t want to know about something that you have considered to be more important than it should be. But don’t ever let yourself get brought to despair by this scripture or by anything at all – always remember that the story is not over

-Daniel Smead

Daniel grew up in Missouri, then attended Oregon Bible College, Atlanta Bible College, and Columbia Theological Seminary. He has pastored in Eden Valley, Minnesota, and now attends the Pine Grove Bible Church in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. He has worked for many years editing adult Sunday School lessons, and also writes some (slowly). He is trying to create a card game about the first few centuries of Church history (very slowly). He also recognizes in himself a tendency to focus on a thing(s) more than he should, and the need to put things in God’s hands and leave them there – so if that describes you, you are not alone. God bless you.  : )

(photo credit: http://keywordsuggest.org/gallery/386871.html)

Even though Proverbs is Coming to a Close – Keep up with the Wisdom!

Proverbs 29-31

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Monday, January 30

Today’s reading will wrap up the book of Proverbs.  This book is one of what we refer to as the five book section of poetry.  You’ve probably noticed that neither Proverbs, nor the rest of this section has a lot of rhyme and rhythm which is often associated with poetry.  Here’s a little poem I remember from my school days.  “Roses are red, Violets are blue.  God made me pretty, what happened to you?”  The rhyme and rhythm are obvious.  The Biblical books of poetry are classified as such, because of the rhyme and rhythm of thought and reason.  This is often called parallelism, putting similar or contrasting thoughts side by side.  These five books are also often called Wisdom Literature.  The reason is obvious.  They are full of wisdom, every one of them, but particularly the Proverbs.

 

I liken the book of Proverbs to the New Testament book of James.  Both are very practical, and contain much wisdom for day to day living.  The Proverbs can be seen not so much as hard and fast promises or guarantees, but rather as counsel, guidance, directives to follow, with consequential blessings.

 

Solomon wrote many of the proverbs contained in this book, though not all of them.  He actually did write many, many other proverbs not contained in this book.  His wisdom was a gift from God, and we would do well to follow his counsel.

 

Read Proverbs 29 slowly and observe the many and varied topics.  You might recall Biblical examples that fit right into some of the proverbs.  You may even think of real life experiences that relate to or prove some of the counsel shared.

 

Proverbs 30 begins, “The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh – an oracle.”  An oracle is either the counsel or message of a person of trust and authority, or the person him or herself.  Again, I would suggest you read slowly through Proverbs 30.  Ponder the various topics addressed.  Agur likes the organization of numbers, two things he asked of the LORD, four things that are never satisfied, four things that are amazing, four things under which the earth trembles, four things that are small, yet extremely wise, and more.

 

Proverbs 31 comes in two parts.  The first nine verses are an oracle (again), this time from the mother of King Lemuel.  I’ll just comment a bit on verses 4-7, where she addresses the use of alcohol.  The use of alcohol is very much accepted these days within the church as well as without.  Lemuel’s mother cautioned him about its use, because of the risk of it affecting the king’s ability to properly perform his responsibilities.  The contrast then is given in verses 6 and 7, “Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.”  Alcohol so easily impairs people to the point where it’s an effective escape from the realities of life.  I can’t tell you the Bible condemns the use of alcohol, but I would caution those who use it freely that it often impairs the user of both wisdom and judgment.  I’ve seen all too often how the abuse of alcohol has been behind the ruining of marriages, families, careers, relationships, integrity; people have been killed, etc.  Most of the examples and stories I could cite have been within the church, people who should have known better, people who never set out to destroy their marriage, family, career, etc.  They just got caught up.  It isn’t worth it to me, to use my freedom to use alcohol, when the abuse of it is so easy and so costly.  I have enough of a challenge to somewhat control my food intake, and am not willing to risk what could happen if I were to use, and go on to abuse alcohol.  I’m confident that those who never take their first drink will never be an alcoholic.  I’ve never heard of an alcoholic who set out to become one.

 

The rest of Proverbs 31 is a wonderful passage describing a beautiful wife and mother.  It’s actually an acrostic, with each verse beginning with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  Of course we lose all that in the translation into the English language.  It’s still a beautiful description.  This is as modern day as one could ask.  Read through it slowly.  If you’re in search of a wife, look for someone such as this.  If you are a wife, or may be some day, be one such as this.  If your wife or mother is one such as this, rise up and do as suggested in verses 28-31.

 

John A. Railton

-John Railton is a pastor in Northern Indiana at Family Bible Church.  He also uses his ministry talents working at a funeral home.  He would love to have a conversation with you about the Bible – and maybe play a round of ping-pong, too.

(photo credit: https://dailyverses.net/proverbs/30/5)

VOMIT!

Proverbs 26-28

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Sunday, January 29

My husband Jason and I have been in youth ministry for many years and one boy who was in the youth group about 20 years ago comes to mind every time I hear his very favorite Bible verse, “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11)  What middle school boy doesn’t love a great vomit verse!  But middle school boys are not the only ones to love this proverb.  Jesus’ disciple, Peter, the Rock Jesus would build his church on showed his wisdom (and knowledge and reliance on God’s Word) when he quoted this very proverb in 2 Peter 2:22.  Peter was referring to the foolishness, and danger, of false prophets who had once been worldly, then accepted Jesus, but then, “turned their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” (2 Peter 2:21).  Just like a dog who returns to his vomit.  How disgustingly gross.  All of us have some gross vomit and worldly foolishness in our past.  What vomit in your life would you be wise to not return to?  How will you avoid turning back to your gross folly?

Another proverb that got my full attention was 28:9 – “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable”.  Look at that – God’s detest list shows up again.  And this time PRAYERS are on the list??  I thought God loved to hear us come to him in prayer with our long list of wants and occasionally a praise or thank you thrown in – who wouldn’t love that?  When in the world would prayers be detestable to God?  I don’t think I learned this in Sunday School, or Facebook for that matter.  Thankfully, Solomon (or the writer of this proverb, who was inspired to write this by God) doesn’t leave us clueless.  He says prayers are detestable IF the “prayee” doesn’t listen to the law – doesn’t abide by God’s Word.  Perhaps you have seen someone quite content totally neglecting God’s law, hands over ears, living life their own way, returning to their vomit frequently, when all of a sudden – BAM – a crisis sends them to God in prayer.  They are ready for their miracle.  And some days, I am also guilty of not being fully tuned into listening to God’s law.  And then I could become quick to blame God for not hearing my prayers and giving me the answer requested, on my time schedule of course.

The good news is, there are many prayers God does NOT find detestable.  “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”  (James 5:16).  Next time you are frustrated with a “silent” God who doesn’t seem to hear you at all, one possibility is to do a check-up on how well YOU have been listening to HIS law.  Perhaps, God is not the one with the hearing problem.

The lovely thing about the book of Proverbs is there are SO many topics and brief nuggets of truth.  Each time you read them you can see something different and new and exceedingly wise for you at whatever point you are in life (even a middle school boy) and at whatever stage you are in following God (even those not currently listening to Him.)   Dig in regularly to gain another morsel of truth and Godly wisdom.  So many pearls of wisdom in today’s chapters, with not enough time to touch on them all, but just a few more quick thoughts. . .

ON HUMILITY –      “Do you see someone wise in his own eyes?  There is more hope for a fool than for him” (26:12)     “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (27:2)    –  Don’t be the proud bragger.  No one likes the proud bragger.

ON CONFESSION –    “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)     –   God’s not looking for perfect people, just ones willing to ask for forgiveness and turn from their sins.

ON GREED & GIVING –   “A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.”  (28:25)     “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” (28:27)     –   Greed does not bring about the prosperous life intended – but giving does.

God Bless You as you Listen to His Law,                                                                                              Marcia Railton

(Photo credit: cartoon by Elgin Bolling.  Maybe a little posted reminder would help you steer clear of revisiting your vomit/folly.  You can go to the ministry-to-children website to color your own black and white version of the dog cartoon above created by Elgin Bolling.  Just go to http://ministry-to-children.com/fool-and-his-folly-proverbs-26-cartoon/)

Golden Apples

Proverbs 23-25

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Saturday, January 28

“Oh be careful little tongue what you say.  Oh be careful little tongue what you say.  For the Father up above is looking down in love.  So be careful little tongue what you say.”   “A word aptly (appropriately) spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (both beautiful and valuable!).”  (25:11)  How did your tongue do yesterday?  How can wisdom, patience, self-control and listening keep your mouth from playing the part of a fool today?   What appropriate word can you find to share today that will be beautiful and valuable to your audience?

There are a lot of verses in Proverbs about the lazy sluggard who is headed towards poverty.  In today’s passage we read, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” (24:33,34).   Other verses also talk about too much sleep (6:9,10; 19:15; 20:13).  I am sure these verses still do apply to many.  But, it seems that most adults and youth I know don’t allow themselves to get enough sleep!  I wonder if the dawn of electricity and modern entertainment has changed a lot of sleep patterns.  In Solomon’s day perhaps the love of sleep was the biggest contributor to laziness, poor time management and poverty. What about today?  Perhaps…“A little video game, a little TV, a little Facebook and Pinterest into the wee hours of the morning – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”   Is it possible that sleep is no longer the number one contributor to laziness, poor time management and poverty?  Has it been replaced with our modern love of vegging out (def’n: to relax and spend time doing very little – often with a remote or device in hand – and sometimes stealing our much needed sleep).    Something to consider.  I know I can do a lot better with the use of the time that God has given me.

Another passage that struck me was from Proverbs 24:11-12

  “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.  If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?  Does not he who guards your life know it?  Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?”

Time for some more heavenly heart weighing.  Do we remember daily that God is weighing our heart?  Would our actions and words look any different if we did? This passage immediately made me think of those who turned a blind eye in Hitler’s Germany or in Martin Luther King, Jr’s America.  But what about today?  Who is God asking you to stand with? Who is God asking you to help rescue?  The unborn?  The friend heading down the wrong road?  The refugee?  The family member denying Christ?  The sex-trafficking victim?

Our world is full of so much pain and sin it is indeed tempting to block it all out and close our eyes pretending we don’t know enough to be held accountable to help.  Re-read the passage above, and see who comes to mind.  Pray, become more informed, pray some more, make a plan of action, pray again and perform a rescue operation!  Perhaps you can’t save the whole world, but you CAN do something.  And remember, your heart will be weighed.

A Few More Little Lessons from Proverbs . . .

On Alcohol – – I touched on this yesterday, but hadn’t read ahead to see that another many verses today would be devoted to the problem of drinking.   It even says, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat.”  (23:20).   And further down . . . “Who has woe?  Who has sorrow?  Who has strife?  Who has complaints?  Who has needless bruises?  Who has bloodshot eyes?  Those who linger over wine ….”(23:29-35).  Who couldn’t use some more woe, sorrow, strife and complaints!   Be wise and steer clear of the dangers involved with drinking.  But, if you ever are looking for more woe, sorrow, strife and complaints, you’ll know you can find it all down the liquor aisle.  “In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” (23:32)

On Envy – three times today’s reading warned against being envious of the wicked (23:17, 24:1,19) – with the last verse even adding do not fret because of evil men.   This reminds me of a Psalm I noticed a few weeks ago – it would have fit well into Proverbs.  “Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases, for he will take nothing with him when he dies….a man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.”  (Psalm 49:16,17,20).  The wicked (rich or poor) are NOT deserving of our envy.  Rather than wishing we could be like them (even a little), perhaps we could even help turn them from death (Proverbs 24:11-12).  Be zealous for the Lord, content with what you have, focused on the goal, and keep seeking wisdom.

God bless your study of His words!
Marcia Railton
(useful apples of gold photo found at http://cubits.org/Strength/thread/view/20332/)

How Much Does Your Heart Weigh?

Proverbs 20-22

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Friday, January 27
 
Still watching that tongue of yours?  This week have you ever stopped and changed what you were going to say – or decided it shouldn’t be said at all?  Are you feeling wiser and wiser every day you are more aware of what comes out of your mouth?  Keep it up!  Today’s reading continues to sprinkle in verses about our mouth.  It is a theme repeated over and over again throughout the Proverbs.  It seems how we use our mouth really is important to Solomon, the God who inspired his writings, and the path to wisdom.  Proverbs 21:23 says, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”  Wisdom brings great reward . . . but foolishness does not.  “A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead.”  (21:16)
 
 “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (21:2)   “ALL a man’s ways SEEM RIGHT to HIM.”  That explains a lot, doesn’t it?  No wonder relationships get a little sticky sometimes – all of my ways seem right to me, while all of your ways seem right to you.  Thankfully, the Lord does know what is right and knows our motives and heart.   We can pray that God will help us see ourselves clearly, truthfully – as He sees us.  I can pray that He will show me where and when I am wrong and off-track so I can make the adjustments necessary in myself.  Together we can pray that when our hearts are weighed they will not be found lacking.  And then we do the work we can to keep our hearts pure, devoted to Him,  and full of love for others.
 
 
And, for some quick lessons  . . .
 
On Drinking – “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”  (20:1)   – Don’t you think watching your words and actions and working to be Godly is challenging enough when you are sober?  Have you ever seen a good drunk Christian following God?  Watch what you are allowing to influence you.   Proverbs has several verses warning of the dangers of drinking.
 
On Revenge – “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord and he will deliver you.” (20:22)   — How wonderful to have something we can take off our busy ‘to do list’.  Life is too full to waste our time plotting and planning revenge.  Move on and leave it to God. 
 
On Drippy Faucets –  “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.”  (19:13)  Ok, that verse actually came from yesterday’s reading, but too good to pass up, and closely related to two of today’s proverbs: “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife” (21:9) and “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.” (21:19).  Not sure I can add anything to those eloquent words.  I guess it is just a reminder to me, and wives everywhere, as well as those aspiring to wifedom to ‘can the quarreling’ so our husbands don’t pitch a tent on the corner of the roof or hightail it to the desert.

Still so many great proverbs we aren’t going to have time to touch on.  Feel free to leave a comment on any of your favorite proverbs on our wordpress site!!  We would love to hear from you and learn from you.

God Bless You as You Seek to be Wise,

Marcia Railton 

 

 

 

What Are You Dishing Out Today?

Proverbs 17-19

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Thursday, January 26

So, how has your mouth been doing this week?  Today is a great time to make some positive changes.  One of my favorite Proverbs about our mouths is in today’s reading:  “The tongue has the power of life and death” (18:21).   Life or Death – you can’t get more powerful than that.  Life or Death – what life-giving words will you use today?  Life or Death – which will you be dishing out today?

And, just like your momma always said, “If you can’t find anything . . . to say that brings life . . . then DON’T say anything at all.”  I’m pretty sure she got that from Proverbs.  Maybe from 17:28 – “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.”    So, consider this the next time you open your mouth to speak words with the power of death – if you close your mouth before speaking it just might be a win-win for you and your listener alike.  You might avoid proving yourself foolish, and your intended audience might be spared a deathly blow.  And, if you do spit out those deathly words that are fighting to get out . . . does anyone win?  Other verses also remind us of the importance of listening and how it leads to wisdom:

18:13 – He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.

 

19:20 – Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise

Today’s chapters also repeatedly speak of the wisdom of overlooking an offense, or on the flip side, the foolishness of quarrelling.  Do you more often find yourself holding onto a grudge or forgiving and moving on?   Do you find your feelings easily hurt and hold it against others?  Are you quick to start a quarrel, or let the moment pass in peace?

17:9 – He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

17:14 – Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

17:19 – He who loves a quarrel loves sin.

I think we could all benefit by evaluating how well, or poorly, we do with 18:2: “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”    Which do you find yourself more interested in – understanding others or speaking your mind?  One little note on covering offenses – I am sure this is not referring to ignoring immoral sins.  We know that unrepentant sin leads to death and it is not loving to ignore that.  Galatians 6:1 has some wise advice in that case, as well as Proverbs 28:23 and Matthew 18.  No doubt, it takes much wisdom to know how to proceed in various situations.  Good thing God gives wisdom (James 1:5) and thank goodness we have the book of Proverbs to help us grow our wisdom.
A few more Proverbs that are just too good to not mention briefly . . .

On Zeal – typically considered a good thing – however . . .  “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” (19:2)  Can you think of a project you may have jumped into . . . and then realized you should have done more “homework” first?   What about those facebook posts we have all seen where a very zealous person is on a rampage because of the latest outrage . . . only to have a friend point out the errors in their information (thank you, snopes).  Very zealous, but not very helpful without the true knowledge – and God’s Word is even more reliable than snopes.

On Disciplining Children/Youth – “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (19:18).   No one likes to be  disciplined – and the parent doing the discipline isn’t too thrilled either.  However, discipline sure beats death.  As a parent I need to remember that I do NOT make their life better by being their best friend and making things easy for both of us.  I make their life better by firmly and lovingly teaching rules, consequences, boundaries, how to listen and follow directions.  By teaching our children how to obey their parents we are also teaching them how to obey God and that is the most important lesson, that leads to life not death.  So teens out there reading, next time you are disciplined by your parents, surprise them – give them a giant hug and a great big thank you for saving you from death.  Then, watch them faint!

What would our relationships and family look like if we lived out all of these wonderful Proverbs everyday?  Keep praying for wisdom and working at the lessons learned in Proverbs.  They bring life – and who couldn’t use more of that.

Marcia Railton

 

God’s DETEST List

Proverbs 14-16

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Wednesday, January 25

A phrase that is repeated numerous times in the Proverbs is “The Lord detests…”  It’s not just, “God doesn’t really like it very much when we ….”.   No, The Lord DETESTS!  I for one want to be far, far, far away from God’s DETEST List.  Sounds like we need some more information to know what to avoid.

— 15:8 – The Lord DETESTS the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
— 15:9 – The Lord DETESTS the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
— 15:26 – The Lord DETESTS the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him.
— 16:5 – The Lord DETESTS all the proud of heart.  Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

My heart sinks.   Wasn’t it just yesterday I said my PRIDE leads me to believe I am usually right.  Perhaps I am inching closer to that Detest List than I would like to admit.  And, the dangers don’t end there – there are numerous other “The Lord DETESTS” throughout the Proverbs: haughty eyes, lying tongue, hands that shed blood, a scheming heart, feet rushing to evil, a false witness, a man stirring up dissension (6:16-19), perverse hearts (11:20), acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent (17:15), and dishonest scales (20:23).  We are so comfortable with the warm and fuzzy “God of Love”, that we sometimes prefer to forget about the Lord DETESTS list.  So, while we are spending some time evaluating our mouth this week, let’s also examine our heart and deeds and attitudes and thoughts.  May we not become like the Pharisees, so proud of our “righteousness” that we lose sight of God and His many-faceted and always right –  love AND judgment.
Dear God – Help me to see myself clearly, as You see me.   Help me to grow in my understanding of You and what You desire of me.   Help me steer clear of ALL that is on your DETEST list and seek to please you always.

And, speaking of pleasing God . . . here’s just a sampling of some more great lessons from these 3 chapters of Proverbs . . .

On our Attitude

  • “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (14:30)
  • “All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.  Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.” (15:15,16)

Contentment with what you have and what comes your way.  It is well with my soul – even if I don’t have what others do or what I thought I wanted.  Enjoy the feast before you – whatever it may be.

On Patience vs. Temper  –

  • “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city” (16:32)
  • “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel” (15:18)
  • “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly” (14:29)
  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1)

Watching our mouth is so much easier when we learn to think before speaking.  Slow down, simmer down – it will save you, and others, a lot of grief.

On Helping the Needy –

  • “He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.” (14:21)
  • “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” (14:31)

How can you honor God this week with an act of kindness to the needy?
God Bless You as You Seek Him,

Marcia Railton

 

(Photo credit: photo by Bob Smerecki, found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/snapnpiks0304/10636599685)