Courage To Arise And Build

Nehemiah is one of my favorite stories to read about in the scriptures. Nehemiah got things done. Nehemiah had a plan and vision. Nehemiah was a great leader. Nehemiah was a man of God.

We can go on and on about these characteristics he had. Today, I want to consider another great quality Nehemiah had.

Nehemiah had great COURAGE.

In Nehemiah 1:1-4, he received terrible news. But the news he received didn’t crush his spirit. He indeed felt terrible. But he cried out to God. He turned to God. While he was in great pain hearing the news, it didn’t crush him. Rather, he had the courage to trust in God and continue to find a way to make a difference.

We need to have the courage to continue and to find ways to make a difference. Nehemiah could have received the news of his family and brethren, cried, and then continued on with his work. But he didn’t. He had the courage to arise and build. This is the mindset we must have.

But that’s not all. Nehemiah had the courage to speak. In Nehemiah 2:1-5, we find Nehemiah making a great request to King Artaxerxes. This took a lot of courage. Nehemiah had a lot riding on the line. Yet Nehemiah had the courage to open his mouth. This may not seem to be like a big deal, but it is. When it comes to arising and building, we will have to open our mouth.

We will need to open our mouth to help encourage our spouse and our children.

We will need to have the courage to open our mouth when things need to be corrected.

We will need to have the courage to open our mouth and apologize when we are wrong.

I’m sure there are other examples we could consider. The point? We need to have the courage to open our mouth like Nehemiah. We will have to override the fear of rejection, difficulties, etc. Nehemiah had the courage to ask the king. He got a YES!

Finally, we are going to need the courage to finish. At times, it can be easy to arise and build. People do this every New Year. People get excited. They listen to podcasts. They read blogs. They are ready for growth. But. They. Don’t. Finish.

I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too. This is where we will need to have courage. The courage to see something through even when it gets hard. That’s what Nehemiah did. He faced opposition, Nehemiah 4:1.  But he had the courage to finish building the wall. Let’s strive to have the courage to arise and build. Let’s go.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 31

Here we are at Day 31!

Proverbs 31:1-31 (1) The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him: (2) What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows? (3) Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings. (4) It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, (5) lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. (6) Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; (7) let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. (8) Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. (9) Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. (10) An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. (11) The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. (12) She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. (13) She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. (14) She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. (15) She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. (16) She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. (17) She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. (18) She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. (19) She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. (20) She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. (21) She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. (22) She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. (23) Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. (24) She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. (25) Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. (26) She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (27) She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (28) Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: (29) “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (30) Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (31) Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

What are you doing? (vs. 1-10). I love this section of Proverbs 30. The mom says to her son, “What are you doing?” There are things that will destroy a king, and there are things that will destroy anyone who is not a king. The king’s mother also warned him about women, the wrong sort of women (vs. 3). Momma will follow up here later to talk about the right kind of woman. There is a time for alcohol, this Proverb teaches, but those times and amounts are limited. Alcohol will distort your ability to discern between right and wrong, so watch out for it! What should a king be doing? Opening his mouth to plead the cause of the helpless and needy. So should anyone who isn’t a “king.” That is what God’s people should be doing.

A virtuous wife (vs. 11-31). We began the book of proverbs looking at two kinds of women, two pathways, two choices. We end the book of Proverbs considering the kind of woman that God praises and that we should praise too! Remember from the beginning of this chapter that this advice and picture of a godly woman came from a godly mother who was counseling her son! I hope that we as Christian men do not read this section of Scripture and come up with unrealistic expectations for all of the things our wives must do to be pleasing to God (really to us). This is, I believe, a composite picture of the wonderful things that a godly woman is, says and does. She is a teacher of good things. This woman loves her family dearly and cares for them in a sacrificial way. She works hard to provide for her family in whatever way necessary. A godly woman is thoughtful of so many things and people. She sees those in need and reaches out to them. In her wisdom she sees the “winters” of life coming and prepares her household for them. Notice that the husband safely trusts in her. He is not micromanaging her affairs. He’s got his own work to do. But look at how the husband and the kids rise up and praise her. This is so important. Praise that woman, do not wait for Mother’s Day!

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 30

Here we are at Day 30! Tomorrow is the last day of our 31 days of Proverbs.

Proverbs 30:1-33 (1) The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle. The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out. (2) Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. (3) I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. (4) Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know! (5) Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (6) Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. (7) Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: (8) Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, (9) lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (10) Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty. (11) There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. (12) There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. (13) There are those–how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift! (14) There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind. (15) The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”: (16) Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.” (17) The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures. (18) Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: (19) the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin. (20) This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.” (21) Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up: (22) a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food; (23) an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress. (24) Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: (25) the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; (26) the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; (27) the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; (28) the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces. (29) Three things are stately in their tread; four are stately in their stride: (30) the lion, which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any; (31) the strutting rooster, the he-goat, and a king whose army is with him. (32) If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. (33) For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.

Agur’s relationship with God (Verses 1-9). The author here, Agur not Solomon, speaks of his relationship with God. He recognizes how inadequate he is before God. On his own he could not come to the knowledge of God. He sees the value of God’s word and knows that to add to it or take away from it is defiance before God. I love how Agur asks for two things from God, and I believe these are good things for all of us to ask of God. First of all, take all falsehood away from me. May I speak the truth in my heart in the mirror before my God, and may I speak the truth to others around me. Secondly, don’t make me too rich or too poor. This Agur was a pretty wise man.

Groups of 4 things. The Proverb writer starts with three things and for emphasis adds that it is four things.

  1. There are those (vs. 11-14) who are proud, cursing and dangerous.
  2. Never satisfied (vs. 15-16). Just like the leech who has offspring who are gluttonously ravenous, there are some things in life that will never say “Enough!” The grave will never be satisfied, the ground will always drink up more water, and one who is unable to conceive is crying out to God for a baby.
  3. Things too wonderful to understand (vs. 18-19). Young, pure love is a wonderful thing to God. Just like watching a ship on the seas, an eagle flying or a serpent moving gracefully along the rocks.
  4. Things the earth cannot bear up (vs. 21-23). Some things make the earth tremble. When these things happen, it is just going to cause more trouble. You think a woman getting married is a good thing, but if she is a hard to love woman, that marriage will be trouble. We might think a slave becoming king is a great Cinderella story, but if the slave comes to the throne bitter and thirsty for vengeance, it will ruin the kingdom.
  5. Small but wise (vs. 24-28). Ants are small and can be squished with a finger, but look at what they do every year. They work hard and provide their food for the winter. Locusts are also small creatures, they have no king, they they are smart enough to “march in ranks.” Rock badgers have enough sense to find a safe place to live in the cliffs.
  6. Stately (vs. 29-31). Whether it is a king with his troops behind him, or a rooster or a lion, they all have a kind of swagger to them. Notice, though, what is said in the next verse. Vs. 32 warns us against having that kind of swagger in exalting ourselves.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 29

Proverbs 29:1-27 (1) He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. (2) When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan. (3) He who loves wisdom makes his father glad, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth. (4) By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down. (5) A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet. (6) An evil man is ensnared in his transgression, but a righteous man sings and rejoices. (7) A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge. (8) Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath. (9) If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet. (10) Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright. (11) A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. (12) If a ruler listens to falsehood, all his officials will be wicked. (13) The poor man and the oppressor meet together; the LORD gives light to the eyes of both. (14) If a king faithfully judges the poor, his throne will be established forever. (15) The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (16) When the wicked increase, transgression increases, but the righteous will look upon their downfall. (17) Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (18) Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. (19) By mere words a servant is not disciplined, for though he understands, he will not respond. (20) Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (21) Whoever pampers his servant from childhood will in the end find him his heir. (22) A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression. (23) One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (24) The partner of a thief hates his own life; he hears the curse, but discloses nothing. (25) The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe. (26) Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice. (27) An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

Learning to calm down – A person who is given to anger will have lots of conflict in his life (vs. 22). Look around at your relationships, are you a person given to anger? You might listen to what others are saying to you. It may be that you have an anger problem and need to deal with it. You also might listen…who is doing all the talking and spouting off? The Bible says here that a fool is the one who vents all his feelings, but it is a wise man who holds them back (vs. 11). Don’t be in a hurry to talk (vs. 20). Don’t be the kind of person that just has to tell everyone what’s on your mind.

Mere words – Sometimes words are not enough (vs. 15,17,19). Your child may sometimes need to be punished in order for him or her to get the point. With patience, love, teaching and occasional punishment, you will see fruits bearing in your children. That is a general truth that Solomon teaches us here. If you leave your kids to their own devices, then they will bring shame to you (vs. 15). Again that is a general truth given here in the Proverbs.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 28

Here we are at day 28, let’s get started!

Proverbs 28:1-28 – (1) The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. (2) When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue. (3) A poor man who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food. (4) Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive against them. (5) Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely. (6) Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways. (7) The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father. (8) Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor. (9) If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (10) Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance. (11) A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has understanding will find him out. (12) When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves. (13) Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (14) Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. (15) Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people. (16) A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days. (17) If one is burdened with the blood of another, he will be a fugitive until death; let no one help him. (18) Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall. (19) Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. (20) A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. (21) To show partiality is not good, but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong. (22) A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him. (23) Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue. (24) Whoever robs his father or his mother and says, “That is no transgression,” is a companion to a man who destroys. (25) A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the LORD will be enriched. (26) Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. (27) Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse. (28) When the wicked rise, people hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase.

Rulers, good or bad (vs. 2,3,12,15,16,28) – Verses 12 and 28 say that when wicked people rule, people hide themselves. But when the wicked perish and good people rule, then the good people increase. Vs. 15-16 talk about how it is like dealing with a roaring lion or a charging bear…hide and get out of the way! When good people rule, there is stability in the kingdom, but when bad leaders rule there is instability (vs. 2).

To show partiality is not good (vs. 21) – It is easy to show partiality…toward our political party, toward our favorite school, our business, toward our family, etc. Solomon said here a man will transgress for a piece of bread. He may end up showing partiality and blinding his eyes to what is right because of the money in his pocket or other things that benefit him. For example, someone in the other “party” may do something corrupt and we cry out for justice, but someone in our “party” does the same thing wrong and we cry for mercy and compassion. That is not good, Solomon said.

Being greedy and in a hurry for money versus being generous and patient to make money – Chapter 28 has several passages about money, generosity and greediness. Verses 19,20 and 22 warn about what happens when we are stingy for money and are in a hurry to get it. Vs. 19 says we will have plenty…plenty of poverty! We end up broke and in debt! Be patient! Also, when you take from your parents instead of giving to them, God is most unhappy with that (vs. 24). It is greedy people that stir up trouble (vs. 25), most likely because they have a financial motive for doing so. God promises that if you are gathering money the wrong way, that it will end up in the hands of a righteous person somehow (vs. 8).

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 27

Happy Memorial Day! Here’s Proverbs 27!

Proverbs 27:1-27 – (1) Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. (2) Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. (3) A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both. (4) Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? (5) Better is open rebuke than hidden love. (6) Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (7) One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet. (8) Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home. (9) Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. (10) Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away. (11) Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him who reproaches me. (12) The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. (13) Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger, and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for an adulteress. (14) Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing. (15) A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; (16) to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand. (17) Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (18) Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored. (19) As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. (20) Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man. (21) The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise. (22) Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him. (23) Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, (24) for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations? (25) When the grass is gone and the new growth appears and the vegetation of the mountains is gathered, (26) the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field. (27) There will be enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household and maintenance for your girls.

Verses 5-6 – Open rebuke or hidden love, which is better? Open rebuke. Kisses of an enemy or the wounds of a friend, which is better? The wounds of a friend. Being a friend doesn’t mean that we just smile and laugh and live with rose-colored glasses. Sometimes we need to be corrected, and if our friends and family don’t love us enough to talk to us directly, then are they really our friends? Verse 17 talks about how iron sharpens iron, which means that there are times we have to help refine each other. Just because you correct me and don’t agree with me all the time doesn’t mean you aren’t my friend.

Verses 23-27 – Knowing the condition of your flocks and herds. Solomon is so wise here to tell us to pay attention to our flocks and herds. Why? Because if we don’t pay attention, those flocks (your income stream) could go away. If you take care of those flocks and herds you will be able to maintain your family and your employees with plenty to spare. So, you may not have sheep and goats, but you have money and a job. Are we paying attention to our finances and managing them well? Like Solomon said, riches do not last forever, so keep a close watch on the state of things.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 26

Happy Memorial Day! I missed Day 26 yesterday, so here it is.

Proverbs 26:1-28 (1) Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool. (2) Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight. (3) A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools. (4) Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. (5) Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. (6) Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence. (7) Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools. (8) Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool. (9) Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools. (10) Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard. (11) Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. (12) Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (13) The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!” (14) As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed. (15) The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth. (16) The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly. (17) Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears. (18) Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death (19) is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” (20) For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. (21) As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. (22) The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. (23) Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart. (24) Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; (25) when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; (26) though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. (27) Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. (28) A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

In Chapter 26, there is a focus on three types of people:

Fools (verses 1-12) – One of the consistencies I see in this section is that truth really has no effect in a fools ear. Just like a drunk person wouldn’t feel a thorn in his hand, wisdom will not pierce a fool’s heart. Solomon demonstrates in verses 4-5 that you don’t go down in the pit with the fool and act like them in a quarrel (vs. 4). But you will have to answer him with wisdom according to what he deserves (vs. 5, compare the New American Standard Version here). A fool will shoot off at the mouth and will be more dangerous than an archer that carelessly shoots arrows everywhere.

Sluggards (verses 13-16) – A door on its hinges may swing, but it really doesn’t go anywhere. The lazy person is the same way…the only movement he makes is turning over in bed. And your advice will fall on deaf ears, because he has seven times your wisdom!

Quarrelsome, whispering, deceitful people (verses 17-28)- There is a lot of wisdom here about quarrels in relationships here. We have to have the wisdom to know when something is not our business and to stay out. I’m sure we all can think of times when we jumped into something that was not our affair, and we felt like just wrestled a pitbull. We also can take notice that fire takes fuel, and so do contentions. When we are picking on others and being rough with them, only to follow with “I’m joking,” then we are shooting flaming arrows at people’s hearts. When we whisper and repeat things that shouldn’t be repeated, we are throwing wood on the fire of strife. Also, there is the wisdom here of Solomon that shines the light on deceptive people that pretend to be nice but are hateful in their hearts. God says that will be exposed before the assembly.

So, let’s look at these three types of people here in chapter 26 and think of the OPPOSITE type of person. A wise person, a diligent person, and a peace loving person. Let’s consider how we can be like that today.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 25

We hope you have a great Memorial Day Weekend! Here is Proverbs 25.

Proverbs 25:1-28 – (1) These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied. (2) It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. (3) As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable. (4) Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel; (5) take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness. (6) Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, (7) for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble. What your eyes have seen (8) do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame? (9) Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret, (10) lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end. (11) A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. (12) Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. (13) Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters. (14) Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give. (15) With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone. (16) If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. (17) Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you. (18) A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow. (19) Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips. (20) Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda. (21) If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, (22) for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. (23) The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks. (24) It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. (25) Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. (26) Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. (27) It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. (28) A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Kings – I love the illustration here about silver and dross. Remove the dross and you have beautiful silver. Take away wickedness from a king and a nation, and the nation will thrive (vs. 2-5). Verses 6-7 sounds like what Jesus taught about seeking the best seats of honor. Let someone else honor you, don’t try to manipulate that for yourself. Just like eating a lot of honey is not good, trying to get our own honor is worse (vs. 27). We can also learn from this chapter that patience and a soft tongue has great power, even with kings (vs. 15).

Relationships – There are some relationship concepts here that really need our attention. Vs. 20 talks about considering the emotional state and needs of another. They are in deep sorrow and you are over there singing “I’m happy today!” Pay attention to what’s going on with others. Your approach may make things worse. Also, keep aware of how long you stay at people’s house, or how long you hold them in conversation. Some people just don’t when to cut if off, and others are left with feeling drained and not considered. In verses 21-22 we see a passage that Paul quoted in Romans. How do we treat our enemies? Are we doing good for them and seeking their best interest, or are we seeking to get them back? Verses 8-9 teaches us about how we need to seek as quick and private of a resolution as possible. Are we seeking to privately resolve issues with others, or are we broadcasting those problems with others who don’t need to know that information. Are we in a hurry to “go to court” and win our case, prove our point? Or are we racing to bring peace and unity? It’s a reminder for us all.

Self-Control – Vs. 28 says we are defenseless without self-control. Our relationships are wide open to attack when we do not exhibit self-control with our words. Our souls and bodies are also defenseless when we fail to show discipline in how we live, eat, think, etc. Even very good things, like honey, can make us vomit if we have too much (vs. 16), so exhibit some self-control (vs. 17).

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 24

Happy Friday…Let’s do Proverbs 24.

Proverbs 24:1-34 (1) Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, (2) for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble. (3) By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; (4) by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (5) A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, (6) for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. (7) Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the gate he does not open his mouth. (8) Whoever plans to do evil will be called a schemer. (9) The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind. (10) If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. (11) Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. (12) If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? (13) My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. (14) Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off. (15) Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home; (16) for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. (17) Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, (18) lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him. (19) Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, (20) for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out. (21) My son, fear the LORD and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise, (22) for disaster will arise suddenly from them, and who knows the ruin that will come from them both? (23) These also are sayings of the wise. Partiality in judging is not good. (24) Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, (25) but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them. (26) Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips. (27) Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house. (28) Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips. (29) Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.” (30) I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, (31) and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. (32) Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. (33) A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, (34) and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

How we look at those who are evil – Solomon tells us not to fret about them, nor be envious of them (vs. 1-2,19-20). It is hard to see how others seem to prosper so much, even when they are not living for God. It’s also easy to “fret” because they seem to keep getting away with it. But God reminds us here that they (like us) have a judgment coming. We also shouldn’t have the heart of rejoicing when the wicked are judged, that ends up showing our hearts for what they really are (vs. 17-18). All the more reason for us to speak up and rebuke the wicked because maybe there is hope for them to repent (vs. 24-25). When we avoid telling those in error what they need to hear, we are sinning and avoiding our responsibility as God’s people. We can fret about the evil deeds of others, or we can pray about it and confront it.

The field of the lazy man – Solomon walked by the field of the lazy man and what did he see? Neglect…the visible fruit of a person not doing his job. Thorns, a vine choked by weeds, a wall broken down which means the protection is not there. There are many ways we can apply this concept. What happens when a marriage is neglected because of laziness and apathy? What happens when your finances and work is neglected? Neglect, laziness and a failure to do the necessary things in any circle will bring about the weeds, lack of positive fruit and will leave us wide open for attack by the enemy. It’s easier to sit down and watch TV than it is to fight for a marriage or to mend relationships. It’s much easier to avoid conflict, but in the end we make things far worse.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 23

Proverbs 23:1-35 (1) When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, (2) and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. (3) Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. (4) Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. (5) When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven. (6) Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, (7) for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. (8) You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words. (9) Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words. (10) Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, (11) for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you. (12) Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge. (13) Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. (14) If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. (15) My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. (16) My inmost being will exult when your lips speak what is right. (17) Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. (18) Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. (19) Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way. (20) Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, (21) for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. (22) Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. (23) Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. (24) The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. (25) Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. (26) My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. (27) For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well. (28) She lies in wait like a robber and increases the traitors among mankind. (29) Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? (30) Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. (31) Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. (32) In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. (33) Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. (34) You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. (35) “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.”

The pain of punishment, the reward of wisdom (verses 12-17, 22-26) – In chapter 23, Solomon tells us that punishment is part of the training of our kids. All discipline is not punishment, remember that. Discipline means training, so that includes teaching, encouragement, correction, etc. But sometimes you have to punish them in love. They will not die if you spank them. Regardless of what the culture today is trying to say, spanking is not the same as hitting or abusing your kids. When that punishment (spanking, grounding, time out, etc.) is joined with teaching, love and reassurance, it will produce godly fruit. That fruit is that generally speaking kids will learn to make wise choices in life. And Solomon says that when those kids grow up and make their own wise decisions, it just brings so much joy and peace to your heart.

Be careful about who you are eating around – Interesting concept, but twice in this concept Solomon says to be careful when you are eating around people. Two types of people are mentioned – Kings and stingy people (1-3,6-7). Solomon uses extreme imagery like putting a knife to our throat. We may want to indulge in a king’s nice things, but watch out…it is deceptive food. It comes with a higher cost that you thought. Also, watch out about taking the food, money and things of a stingy person, because as Solomon says, they like to calculate. They will constantly remind you of the cost. It would be better to do without and go hungry than to take that money and food from that stingy person.

Warnings about alcohol – Solomon said in 20:1 that wine can deceive us and lead the unwise astray. There is a time for wine, even Paul told Timothy to take some for his stomach and other infirmities (1 Timothy 5:23). But the warnings are aplenty in the Bible about what alcohol can do. In Proverbs 23, we see that alcohol can lead you to get into fights, it will give you great highs and you will feel like you are floating on the ocean. But it is a snake that has a deadly bite. Solomon warned about the addictive nature of alcohol here as well – “When I can have another drink?” A person will get themselves into a world of hurt because of drinking, but in the morning they start it all over again. So, watch out.