How to Be Stupid

Proverbs 11-13

prov-12-1

Tuesday, January 24

 

How have you used your “fountain of life” today (Proverbs 10:11)?  Did you know when to keep it shut?  Can you think of a time when you used it (your mouth) to nourish others?   In today’s readings there are several more excellent verses reminding us again of the power of our words.  And of course we know that “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”.  Some verses worthy of being great refrigerator verses are:

11:12 – A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.
12:18 – Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
12:28 – An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.
13:3 – He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

My guess is we can all quickly think of a time when someone’s words pierced us, and also a time when someone’s words healed us.  Can you also think of a recent time when your own words pierced another?  What about brought healing or cheered up someone?   How can we make a better plan for our mouth so we don’t just say the first thing that comes to mind, which can lead to ruin?

How about experimenting with ranking your mouth at the end of each day for the next week or two.  A big fat score of 0 would be for a day filled with piercing words spoken rashly: accusations, angry outbursts, rudeness, gossip, lies or twisted truths, put-downs (even in jest? It’s not really funny), boasting, manipulating, cursing and foul language, I’m sure you can think of more.  And of course our goal would be a shining 10 score for a day full of polite speech, genuine compliments, thankfulness, apologies, forgiveness extended, words of encouragement and sometimes sympathy, morsels of truth at just the right moment, Godly wisdom and Bible verses shared – and none of that nastiness that automatically pull your score down.  From day to day be looking for ways to grow your own score.  Be more mindful of how you use your words  – and sometimes more appropriately, your gift of silence – and the impact it has on those around you.   Hold yourself accountable for the proper use of your fountain of life.  For only then will you be called righteous.  (10:11)

There is so much more wisdom and lessons for the one seeking to live a righteous life!  Come to think of it – Proverbs also has great advice if you are aiming to be a stupid fool.   Solomon could have titled Proverbs, “How to Be STUPID”.  Proverbs 12:1 is a great start: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is STUPID.”   And, since reading it once isn’t always enough . . .

13:1 – He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored

13:10 – Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice

12:15 – The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice

Raise your hand if you think you are right most of the time.  My hand goes up.  Guilty as charged.  No doubt it is my pride that makes me think I am right and they are wrong.  Sometimes, I AM right.  But, when I am WISE I will realize and accept that I am also sometimes wrong.  I have been, am and will be wrong, in need of correction and discipline and sorely in need of advice.  Why should I even LOVE discipline (12:1)  – because I want more and more to be as Godly as possible (Be holy, because I am holy – I Peter 1:16)– and right now there is still a pretty huge gap between God’s holiness and mine.   Dear God, help me grow a more humble spirit that accepts correction well.

So many great proverbs, so little time.  We sadly won’t go into detail about the sluggard, pig snout, chasing fantasies or husband’s crown or so many others.  But just one last nugget for those who want to be wise. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (13:20). If you desire to avoid harm (and I sure hope you do) – choose your companions carefully.  Don’t waste your time searching for perfect people to be friends with – that can be a real disappointment.  But choose to spend your time side by side with those who are seeking to grow closer and closer to the Father.
Keep Growing!
God Bless,
Marcia Railton
 

 

 

 

Advertisements

My Mouth – Wise or Foolish?

Proverbs 8-10

proverbs10_9

 

Monday, January 23

In/Out, Hot/Cold, Wet/Dry, Over/Under, Near/Far.  Beginning at a very young age opposites are a great learning tool.  Toddlers learn what wet is because it is the absence of what dry is, and vice versa.  Wise Solomon similarly employed the power of opposites throughout the book of Proverbs.   Wise/Foolish is the ultimate lesson of contrasts.  But in teaching the multitude of differences between wise and foolish numerous pairs of opposing opposites are introduced: joy/grief, diligent/lazy, wealth/poor, love/hatred, nourish/die, choice silver/little value, length to life/years cut short, refuge/ruin, and righteous/wicked.  A very clear picture emerges of what is indeed wise and what is not.  And with the picture comes a strong desire to find myself more and more camped out on the side of the wise.  But how do I do that?

Mouth, lips, words, tongue – it becomes obvious that wisdom is not just for the mind and following God is not just for the heart.  Our mouths must play the part, too.  Some great verses in Chapter 10 are aimed at the use of the mouth.

10:11 – The mouth of the RIGHTEOUS is a fountain of life,  but violence overwhelms the mouth of the WICKED.
10:21 – The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.

10:31 – The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out.

10:32 – The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

And, we not only read of how to use our mouth – there is a helpful reminder when NOT to use it as well . . .

10:19 – When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.

Dear God – May I use my mouth as a fountain of life that nourishes many – those in my house and in my church, neighborhood, school, social media and employment.   May the words I speak (as well as those I chose not to say) give life and point others to you.   Help me know when to keep my mouth shut – putting an end to useless arguments, pride, put-downs,  harmful dissension,  potty mouth, “little white lies”, and big black ones, too.  Help me be more intentional about how and when I use my words – that they might draw me closer to you and to becoming what you desire for me.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

God Bless Your Reading,
Marcia Railton
(Photo credit: http://www.verseoftheday.com/en/09102013/)

 

 

Attention Grabbers

Proverbs 4-7

proverbs-4-in-due-time-blog

 

Sunday, January 22

 

 

Fashion reviews, stock market reports, Facebook feeds and social media, your sport of choice and preferred teams, entertainment gossip, Pinterest, politics, your GPA, your app of choice, the most recent episode of “insert title here”, money-making schemes, bazillions of Youtube videos, work and career endeavors, God’s Word?

 

What do you pay attention to?  In today’s noisy and congested society there are no doubt many options out there vying for your attention.  If you are reading this, congratulations!  God’s Word has made your list!  In Solomon’s proverbs for today an often repeated theme is: Sonny boy, PAY ATTENTION to these words of wisdom.  LISTEN UP!  Not just because I say so, but because these words of wisdom bring life and health (Proverbs 4:10, 13,22). They give understanding (Proverbs 4:1).   They are a light keeping you on the right path (Proverbs 5:8, 6:23, 24).  They provide protection (Proverbs 4:6).  I doubt you will find such benefits from your time invested in paying attention to so much of today’s “attention grabbers”.  Some of today’s attention grabbers are fancy time-wasters, pulling you away from what matters most.  And, just as in Solomon’s day, some of those sparkly attention grabbers will actually entice, or push, you down an immoral and dangerous path.

 

Chapters 5 & 7 include vivid descriptions of a young man being led astray by a woman whose speech drips like honey (5:3), and who sets a trap leading to death (5:5, 7:22,23) even though, “she knows it not.” (5:6).  Similarly, tempting traps leading to sin today are most often not advertised as such – sometimes because the attention grabbers don’t even know that they are on a crooked path.   It is ridiculously naïve to assume all the attention grabbers have our best interest in mind or are truly offering harmless fun.  Rather, when we spend more and more time paying attention to the wisdom contained in God’s Word (in Proverbs and throughout) we see more clearly what is helpful and what is hurtful, what leads to death and what leads to life.  What will you pay attention to today?

If you answered God’s Wisdom . . . how can you do that better and better . . . starting today?  How about writing out some Proverbs to post around your home where you will see them often.  Post Scripture on your technology wallpaper and social media.  A verse such as Psalm 101:3 on your TV.  Listening to God’s Word as you get ready for the day or during your commute.  Doing a Bible study on a word or topic.  Let God grab your attention!  You won’t be disappointed.

-Marcia Railton

(Photo credit: http://in-due-time.com/faith/proverbs-420-22-138/)

 

 

Where Wisdom Can Be Found

Proverbs 1-3

pro-1-33-ww-notrace-9x

Saturday, January 21

There is a great contradiction in today’s world. In a time when we are experiencing exponential expansions in knowledge, we are also suffering significant shortages in wisdom.   We had placed value so high on creation and discovery, that many have lost what is labeled as “common sense,” in the process.  There are plenty of planes, but no pilots, plenty of shells, but no yokes, plenty of bark but no bite? Wood? No matter.  I see it in adults and students alike.  They are missing a critical component in the navigation of life: wisdom.

.

Today, begins our reading in Proverbs, The Psalms’ more practical brother.  Much like an instruction manual, a lesson plan, or a mission briefing, Solomon, King of Israel and our author, lays out the purpose of this book in the opening verses:

“ <These Proverbs are> for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young” – Proverb 1: 2-4

The faith of Proverbs is not theoretical, hypothetical, or abstract. It is the pragmatic and clinical day-to-day application of faith.  It is the “how-to” or “for Dummies” book of those who are trying to live for Christ.  Even without true understanding of the meaning behind these words, one only needs to put them into practice, and they will immediately benefit. Solomon was granted special insight to God’s infinite knowledge and ultimate goodness. Through this, he had the ability to prioritize, see the sequence of events, discern the lasting outcomes of every decision, and sense the overriding nature of man  throughout his reign.  How did he obtain such a gift?  He asked (2 Chron 1:7-12).

 

“For the Lord grants wisdom!  From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.  He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.  He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.” – Proverbs 2:6-8

 

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver…” – James 1:5-6a

 

Thankfully, the wisdom of Solomon is available to us.  Yes, literally, here in the Proverbs, as we pour through a lifetime of wisdom in a handful of days, but also in a direct-to-us, handpicked for today’s questions and quandaries type of way.  The only condition is, like Solomon, we ask.  You don’t have to have a certain number of gray hairs, grow a long beard, or wear your glasses on a chain.  God has promised to give generously to all, without finding fault.

 

Let this time you spend in Proverbs begin or reignite your prayerful pursuit of God’s timeless wisdom.

-Aaron Winner

(photo credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/proverbs-1-2016/)

Praise

Psalm 145-150

aaron-photo

Friday, January 20

A few years ago my wife and I went on a driving tour of Ireland.  We had the opportunity to see beautiful and wonderful things, many of them being the untouched creation of God.  Each morning we would leave our bed and breakfast early, then ride around and visit as many sites as we could fit in between dusk and dawn, making sure to get to our next bed and breakfast before the sun went down. Why? It was near impossible to navigate the streets and backroads of the smaller towns of Ireland in the evening.

 

It was the fourth or fifth night into our journey, and we were having an exceptionally hard time finding our resting place for the evening.  We were driving (unknowingly) in the wrong direction, as the sun was starting to set.  There was a faint mist in the air and mountains ahead.  I watched as the sky and mountains turned from shades of gray to the most vivid reds, purples, yellows, oranges, and more.  It is not hyperbole to say that it was the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen in my life.  I was focused on how beautiful the sunset was, and I kept on oohing, awing, and driving in the wrong direction; however, my wife was focused on getting us safely to our destination, pouring through papers and maps.  I begged her to look up and take at look at the wondrous sight, but she wouldn’t have it; she told me to turn around (in the opposite direction of the sunset!) because we had made a wrong turn.  I turned around to avoid a fight (or more of one), but stopped when I saw a decent pull off.  I said, “You have to look at how beautiful the sunset is!”  We both got out of the car.  We oohed and awed together.  We snapped a photo or two that did not do the scene justice, and we drove off with a memory.

 

In that moment, I saw something that I wanted to give praise to.  I was amazed and astounded.  I thanked God, but that did not do it justice.  I had to share it.  I had to tell someone (now several someones) about it.  In fact, it was hard to think or speak of anything else.  C.S. Lewis says in Reflection on the Psalms ,

 

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation….It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with… Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

 

God has called us to enjoy His many wonderful attributes throughout the Psalms.  He is patient, kind, caring, merciful, just, faithful, and unrelenting.  While He is exalted in the highest heavens with knowledge too lofty to attain, He is a personal, close, and specific Father who gives us every opportunity to allow Him to work and act in our lives.  The highest of praise goes to an infinite God who has loved us so much! BUT, praise is far beyond acknowledgement.  Praise is an immersive experience. It may be great to see something praiseworthy, but to fully experience praise, we must share it.  Praise is not only see to see the sunset, it is to let others know and share in the moment.  When we experience His blessing, His healing, His power, His comfort, or His love, we cannot be silent or accept; we cannot let it go under the radar. We must let others know.  In this, we have then offered praise.

 

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; This splendor is above the earth and the heavens. And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart” Psalm 148:13-14.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” 150:6

-Aaron Winner

(Photo credit: Aaron Winner – most beautiful sunset)

He Knows

Psalm 139 – 144

psalm-139-14-large

Thursday, January 19

After 11 years of marriage, I feel like I know my wife pretty well.  I don’t just know her favorite movie, but I know when she will laugh in a couple dozen different films.  I don’t just know her favorite food, but I could sit down at a new restaurant with her, look at the menu, and tell you what she is going to order.  I don’t just know what annoys her, I could execute the annoyance with such precision that she would be sent into a full-blown rage within seconds.  I may know her better than she knows herself.  I do not only see her actions, but I know her potential.  I do not only know her answer, but understand her logic (well, most of the time).  When you love something or better yet, someone, deeply you take in as much knowledge as you can, so you can protect, please, and preserve it.

 

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:13-14

 

However, my love pales in comparison to God’s love for her.  God has been with her since he was knitting her together with the yarn of amino acids in her mother’s womb.   When no one else saw her because she was a few multiplying cells, God already knew her name.  Before she had a form, God knew who she would be called to be, He had taken account of her life, and placed it in His plan.  His love does not end here.

 

He’s a loving God, wanting to know more about his creation,

who left His word for her, so He can have a conversation;

He sacrificed His Son for her, so she could have salvation.

When her actions don’t match her potential he perceives it,

And when she repents from her heart he will always believe it;

When she confesses her pain, He will hear and will grieve it.

He truly knows the things that are desires of her heart;

He hears her prayers and then His blessings impart;

Thoughts so high, love so deep, may it never depart.

 

“How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.” – Psalm 139:17-18

While we may have a friend, a parent, a child, a spouse, that loves us deeply, God’s loves goes deeper; it is timeless, unconditional, and infinitely-supplied (Rom 8:38-39).  This comes from Him perfectly forming us and His continued desire to know us.  EVERY child of God has been made through great care and knowledge, but also promised a specific and great love.  You are a priceless possession of a Great God and Loving Father.

-Aaron Winner

(photo credit: http://www.psalmsquotes.com/psalm-139-14.htm)

 

 

Perfect Harmony

Psalm 132-138

psalm-133v1

Wednesday,  January 18

A conductor lifts her baton signifying music is only a breath or two away. Violins, violas, cellos, & basses simultaneously make a sound as their players move their bows side to side along each instruments’ strings.  Nothing is as pleasant as hearing the harmonious sound of an orchestra blending pitches, octaves, melodies, parts, becoming one unified thought and expression.  A euphonious sound appreciated by all in attendance: young, old, musically inclined, musically inept, and even those who would not admit they enjoy such things.

 

Unfortunately, the majority of my experience has been on the other side of this equation, having attended close to a dozen novice string concerts of first year players.  The conductor lifts her baton in the same manner,  but soon after comes a cacophony arising from the stage, sharply hitting my ear, and then a small chill goes up my spine.  The disunity and discord momentarily disconnect me; however,  I remain true to my reason for being there:  to support the ones I love, to offer encouragement, and provide helpful insight when the time comes.

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, Flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.  It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon,  flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life. – Psalm 133, The Message

When harmony is mentioned in the Bible, it overwhelmingly speaks of our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are to love, value, encourage, and cherish each individual member. Every member has an ordained purpose.  Every member has a God-given spiritual gift.  Every member has been fearfully and wonderfully made to play their part in His song.  We may know this full and well, but it really only takes a handful of minutes on social media, conversation at a meal after a church service, or a decision made at a board meeting to reveal disunity that still exists in the body.  Our sinful nature wants us to have our way, obtain all power, and to defeat those who oppose us.  God wants us to know His way, utilize His power, and to fight our battles for us.

With a unified purpose in God, we are no longer made to COMPETE with one another, but we are made to COMPLETE one another.  We must never forget we share the same Heavenly Father who has purposefully brought us together (1 Cor 12:12-13).  We must always do our best to love, support, encourage, and train our brothers and sisters to fulfill their vital part in body and song (Romans 14:19).  We must find and repair the discord, and keep from creating more, so we are all on the same page (Matthew 18:15-17). An orchestra filled with musicians trying to be heard, competing sections, or playing different pieces simultaneously, is one that will not be listened to.   The joy and attraction of harmony lives in playing our part, lifting praise as one voice, one song, to our One God.

May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus! – Romans 15:3-6, The Message

-Aaron Winner

(photo credit: http://hiswordinpictures.blogspot.com/2015/03/psalm-1331.html)