Beware of Bad Company

Romans 14-16

1stCor15

Saturday June 17

 

Romans 16:17-19

17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.

When I was a teenager, I explored many different groups of friends.  I would get really close with a circle of people and then move on to the next, checking out different types of people.   Over the years in high school, I formed an eclectic group of friends and I found this verse to be true: “Do not be deceived, ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” I Corinthians 15:33.  The Bible talks a lot about this.  Whatever you are watching or reading, it will get into your mind and come out of your mouth.  The same goes with who you surround yourself.  If your friends are loose morally, your attitude and standards will be affected negatively.  Often, we can get into a trap of thinking we are stronger than those around us…but more often than not, this is not true!

Paul understood this when he admonished the Romans to watch those who caused trouble and said things against what they had been taught.  He knew that those people had not made Jesus Christ their lord and only cared about their own selfish desires.  Those types of people can deceive you away from the truth and cause all sorts of evil.  Paul wanted them to be wise in the things of God which are good and have no knowledge of evil.

I remember a time during my sophomore year in high school that I hung out with some kids who were drinking.  I didn’t know how much they had to drink but I ended up in the back seat of a car packed with kids and quickly became aware that the driver was drunk by his erratic driving.   I was scared!  I remember praying desperately to God to save me and protect me.  He did and I made it home safely but I was shaken up.  I shouldn’t have been in that situation or hanging out with the kind of kids that would drink and then drive putting many lives at risk.  The friends I had at that time had loosened my convictions and I was in uncharted, ungodly territory.

What I have learned over the years of my life is that you want people that will bring you up and not down.  Choose friends that will make you better for God and stronger, ones that will admire your solid convictions and morals.  I married my husband, Sean, because he did this for me.  He pushed me in areas that I was weak and inspired me to work harder and be better for God.  Below are some verses that talk about the consequences of the company you keep.

Proverbs 13:20

He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

1 Corinthians 5:11

But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one.

Proverbs 14:7

Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge.

Psalm 26:4-5

I do not sit with deceitful men, Nor will I go with pretenders. I hate the assembly of evildoers, And I will not sit with the wicked.

Psalm 1:1-4

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Proverbs 22:24-25

Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.

1 Corinthians 5:6

Your boasting is not good Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.

 

Ruth Finnegan

 

(photo credit: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/06/23/top-7-bible-verses-about-morality/)

 

Count the Cost

Mark 7-9

mark 8 36

Wednesday, May 10

What is the most you have ever paid for something? What is the most you have ever gotten from selling something? We value our things and we value our money. It seems that prices keep going up and up on everything that we need. Yet when we sell something it seems the price is never quite as high as we would like it to be. When we buy or sell we must ask ourselves, “What is this really worth to me?” That question will help us decide if we want to buy or sell at the price offered.

 

Jesus asks His followers to place value on what may be the single most valuable thing we have, our life and the choices we make in it. In Mark 8:31 Jesus teaches that He, “must suffer many things and be rejected … and be killed, and after three days rise again.” In the verses that follow He tells Peter that Peter had not set his mind on God’s interests, but his own. Then Jesus tells us, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34) Jesus is saying that we must place a value on being His follower. We must also place a value on following our own desires. We must decide which is of greater value to us. If our desires win and we choose to seek the things of this life and avoid the suffering of following Jesus it is a steep price to pay. Jesus says, “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35) Proverbs puts it this way, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 16:25)

 

I leave you with the 2 questions that Jesus asked His disciples in verses 36 and 37, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

 

-Bill Dunn

 

(Photo Credit: ttps://www.bbmquotes.com/quote-from-the-bible-mark-836/)

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

fool-folly-cartoon-complete-500

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

apples-of-gold

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

proverbs-21-2

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

proverbs-17-28

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