A Loud Voice Early in the Morning

Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.
(Proverbs 27:14)

How can a blessing be counted as a curse? In this particular proverb, there are a few ideas to consider.

For one, it may be that my timing is off. Having a loud voice can be annoying at anytime in the day, having a loud voice in the morning may lead to gunfire, no matter how good your intentions are. I don’t want to violate the context of Ecclesiastes 3, but Solomon did say there was a time to speak and a time to be silent. We do have to know what time it is! A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word! (Proverbs 15:23).

Secondly, my approach may be completely turning a positive thing into a negative thing. “The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools” (Ecclesiastes 9:17). Why would you have to shout it early in the morning to get your point across?

Thirdly, I need to consider my motives in why I’m gushing and lavishing praise on someone. When someone is just heaping an unusual amount of praise and adoration on another, it naturally leads the recipient to suspect the motives behind it. Is this really a genuine blessing, or is something behind all this cavity-causing sweetness? Remember as it is often said that compliments are like perfume, you are to sniff it, not swallow it. I don’t mean that we are to constantly call into doubt our motives or the motives of others, but there are times when the amount of praise, the timing of it and the volume in which it is exclaimed can really turn into a curse in the end. Solomon sure had a lot of wisdom, didn’t he?

A Word Fitly Spoken

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
(Proverbs 25:11)

Have you had someone give you a specific compliment that pointed out an area where you really do well in? How did that make you feel? Didn’t it make you want to take on the world?

Today is just a quick thought that we should always be looking for where people shine in life and make sure they hear us say it. Those “words fitly spoken” are truly like apples of gold in settings of silver.

Most importantly, men, let’s do this in our marriages. It is too easy and very destructive to find the problems. How about we look for where our wives shine and praise them up and down for it?

Listen to the Messiah speak in Isaiah 50:4,

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.

He had the prayer of the learned, so that He could “sustain with a word him who is weary.” Your few words of encouragement have that much power! Pointing out the talents and strengths of another may help that person be renewed in strength. Sometimes all we see in ourselves is the problems, the weaknesses and the lack of abilities. Somebody else can help us see more realistically and with it will revive our spirits!

David’s Faithful Friends Who Wounded Him

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
(Proverbs 27:5-6)

Aren’t you thankful for that close friend who is willing to tell you what you need to hear even if it hurts?

I think of the life of David and how several people in his life told him what he needed to hear at the time. Nathan rebuked him for his sins of murder, adultery and the cover up (2 Samuel 12). Abigail pleaded with him to calm down and not take vengeance upon the house of Nabal (1 Samuel 25). Bathsheba stirred up the aging David to make sure Solomon, and not Adonijah, was put on the throne of Israel (1 Kings 1). Joab had to confront David after the death of Absalom to help David regain some perspective (2 Samuel 19). Gad was sent by God to correct and pronounce God’s punishment upon David and Israel because of the numbering of the people (1 Chronicles 21). There are others, I’m sure, but you can see that God sent many people to David to help him get his head straight about things.

Because those people were sent to advise, correct and rebuke David, he was either put back on the path of righteousness or was kept from straying from it. Some of those friends said some very encouraging things, others said some words that really stung. Regardless, David had people in his life who loved God and loved him enough to say what needed to be said.

Being told you are wonderful may be awesome, but it’s like a triple chocolate cake oozing with fudge. A few bites and you’re sick. You won’t be healthy for long if you eat that stuff.

I hope this helps. If you want to be a person like David, you have to surround yourself with friends like David had.

By the way, sorry for missing Wednesday’s article and being late on today’s. No excuses, just doing too much.

Married Under the Influence

Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
(Proverbs 5:15-20)

Anna was listening to a radio program the other day, and shared with me a great point that the speaker made. It goes something like this, “Satan does everything in his power to get us to be physically intimate before we are married, and then everything in his power to break that physical intimacy after we are married.” So true.

The passage above in Proverbs talks about being intoxicated. We can be drunk and led astray into the arms of forbidden love, or we can be drunk in love of our bride. God created the sexual relationship to be very fulfilling, to draw us closer to our spouse than we are to anyone else on the planet.

That is why this union is designed exclusively for marriage, when it is taken outside of marriage, it defiles everything and everyone it touches. When it is kept within the covenant relationship of a husband and wife, it brings joy, unity and an intimacy unparalleled in human relationships.

Solomon is directing the husband’s senses (ears, eyes, hands, nose, mouth, etc.) to be directed fully toward his wife. When he starts looking at other women, smelling their pretty perfume, and listening to their flattering words, he will become drunk in other women’s love. His hands and arms are to be devoted to his wife, not to any other woman. Just read the first 7 chapters of Proverbs to be reminded of how Solomon teaches and warns about sexual sin.

But in those warnings are also passages like the one above that talk about the joy and intoxication that can be found within a committed relationship between a husband and his wife.

Have you lost that at home? If so, what happened? And then, how can we get that back again? There are no quick easy answers to these questions. If you have been married long enough you have more than likely found yourself in the situation where the sexual relationship is not the joyful union God designed for you to have.

There are a lot of reasons this happens in a marriage. Health reasons, life stresses, past hurts, arguments and bitterness piled up, unrealistic expectations, the kids, or we are just flat out tired, etc. It also could be that other people have drawn away our affections in some way. Can we come back from these things that have tried to destroy our physical intimacy with our wife? Yes. Otherwise passages like Proverbs 5 wouldn’t have been written.

The question is men, what will you do about this? Have you sought out wise counsel on this matter? Are you directing all your senses toward your wife, or are you being pulled away in your affections to other things and people?

Think about what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7

But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife,
(1 Corinthians 7:33)

I don’t believe Paul meant this in a negative way. It’s just a reality. If you are married, your attention should naturally be toward how to please your wife. Included in that is the sexual relationship (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). It is your job and your life, and God wants it to be your joy. Seek to please your wife, all the while seeking to please God as well.

Through sloth the roof sinks in

Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.
(Ecclesiastes 10:18)

Some people are too lazy to fix a leaky roof– then the house falls in.
(Ecclesiastes 10:18, Contemporary English Version)

Have you ever let that project on the house go too long, and it ended up costing you more later because the problem got worse? Well apparently 3,000 years ago people did the same thing. Painfully, Solomon points out the main reason those projects don’t get finished. Sloth. Laziness (which means aversion of activity or exertion). That hole in the roof will only get bigger, the gutters will only get more full of leaves, and the leak under the sink did not get better because you put a bucket under it and shut the cabinet door!

As leaders in churches, we can also learn a thing or two from this principle. Sometimes our neglect and slothfulness can lead to a huge problem down the road. What may have been a simple repair a year ago turned into a church divided a year later.

Every Christian is to pay attention to each other “daily,” because big spiritual problems can spring up fast (Hebrews 3:12,13).

Shepherds (elders) are to watch out with diligence for the flock (Acts 20:28-29; 1 Peter 5:1-4). Wolves don’t take a day off, do they?

How did the church at Ephesus lose its first love? How did the church at Sardis slowly die? How did the church at Thyatira let in false teachers that led many astray? I think in some way the answer is the same…neglect. The strong and the wise ignored the signs that problems were arising and did not attend to them.

It would be nice to coast as a Christian, but we really don’t have that luxury. We as a culture are working toward “self-driving” vehicles, but there isn’t such a thing in God’s church. Pay attention. Get on that roof and fix that problem right away.

I know that roofs are easier to “fix” than people, but the principle still applies. A little attention now, and some hard work now, just may well save a whole new roof job down the road.

When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose,
(Acts 11:23)

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
(Hebrews 12:15)

Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?
(Proverbs 27:23-24)

The heart of her husband trusts in her

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain (Proverbs 31:11).

Trust. The husband of the virtuous woman here in Proverbs 31 is said to have complete trust in his heart for his wife. Let’s think about what that means, and what that looks like.

Many of you have probably taken part in some training seminar or camp where they made you do the “trust fall.” It’s really difficult for a lot of us to trust that when we fall backward, that the person behind us will be there and be able to catch our fall. In order to do that, we have to give up some measure of control. We also have to assume that the person behind us will do the right thing.

The fact that this husband trusted his wife means:

  1. He didn’t have to check into all her actions, decisions and words. She didn’t need a babysitter.
  2. He didn’t make all of the decisions. Look at all of the decisions, both in her business and in her home dealings; she made lots of choices on her own without her husband having to think for her.
  3. He assumed that she was doing the right thing and he wasn’t away from her worried about how she was going to behave.
  4. His heart was at peace when it came to his wife.

Sometimes we have trust issues, because we don’t trust ourselves. When we are not at peace in our own souls, we look at others assuming that they have the same problems. We try to control others because things are out of control in our own hearts. But this husband was not that way toward his wife. He had his life, and his business and his relationship with God, and it seems that he was at peace with it. He didn’t have to overreach into her life and try to micromanage her life to appease his own troubled conscience.

So, think about this husband today, men, and consider how much he truly loved his wife to let her be her own person and make her own decisions. I do not mean that we live in our marriages as complete individuals and that we are not in union and accountable to each other. But we also must remove the desire to control and manage, and trust that others in our lives, specifically our wives, will make the right decisions.

Hebrews 6:9 – Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation

An article from Dave Ramsey about teens investing

I read an article this week from Dave Ramsey’s website entitled “How Teens Can Become Millionaires.”

A little bit of a caveat first: Our most important emphasis is for our children to invest in their eternal souls, regardless of how much money they have here on earth. Please put this article in that Biblical perspective.

That being said, the Bible is very clear in its wisdom for us to save and invest and grow the talents/opportunities/blessings that God has given us.

What blew me away, was the point in the article that if a 19 year old invested $2,000 each year for only 8 years, and then left that money alone until he was 65, that money would grow to around $2.3 million at 12% interest. That is the amazing beauty of compound interest. Boy, do I wish I had that kind of mindset at 19!

The article contrasted the 19 year old with a 27 year old who invested $2,000 a year every year until he was 65 years old. When the 27 year old turned 65 he had around $1.5 million in the bank. The 19 year old invested $16,000 over 8 years and the 27 year old invested $78,000 over 39 years. In the end, the 19 year old ended up with $800,ooo more because he started early.

Here is the chart from that article:

That’s the lesson to burn into our young men and women right now. Start early! Don’t blow all that hard earned income on fancy clothes, restaurants and miscellaneous stuff that you can live without.

Here is the wisdom from Solomon (from God) on this subject:

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
(Proverbs 6:6-11)

 

The Proverbs 31 Husband

I’m looking at Proverbs 31 today with a perspective not on the virtuous woman but on the husband who loved and supported her. Take some time to read through the chapter and learn about the man who was married to this wonderful woman. What kind of man was he?

He was a husband who has been taught and come to understand the precious value of a woman who fears God and walks with Him.

The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:
(Proverbs 31:1)

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
(Proverbs 31:10)

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
(Proverbs 31:30)

He was a husband who “safely trusted” in his wife. As a husband, he did not hold her back or discourage her from expressing her talents and pursuing her dreams. This man fanned the flames of encouragement. She knew he trusted her. It was clear that he supported her and was her biggest fan. He took leadership in the home among his children; those kids saw their father praising and lifting up their mother. The kids followed suit by imitating their father in praising their mother.

The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.
(Proverbs 31:11)

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
(Proverbs 31:23)

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.”
(Proverbs 31:28-29)

In verses 28-29, the husband is comparing his wife to other women, but notice how he is doing it. He doesn’t point out how other women are doing things she isn’t or that they are doing it better. He lifts her up on a pedestal and makes her the queen of the castle with his words.

Look at the verbs connected to the virtuous woman. She seeks, works, brings, rises, provides, considers, buys, plants, girds, strengthens, perceives, stretches, holds, extends, reaches, is not afraid, makes, supplies, opens her mouth with kindness (vs. 12-27). As this godly wife was doing all these things, her husband trusted her, supported her and praised her.

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:31)

She may not be sitting in the gates with her husband and the other leaders/officials of the land, but her influence is truly felt there. Her own works praise her in the gates.

How do we talk to and about our wives? Do our children see an example of a man who rises up and calls her blessed? When we are “in the gates” are we lifting up our wives in praise? Do our wives know and fully understand that our hearts safely trust in them?

Some principles for making a wise decision

Today we will consider some principles for making wise decisions. We make decisions (tons) of them on a daily basis. Some are pretty insignificant, like which coffee mug to use this morning. Others have generational impact, in other words, this decision will affect your great-grandchildren. The Bible is full of teaching and advice on how to make good decisions, we cannot even scratch the scratch of the surface in today’s post. Hopefully, however, we can consider just a few basic principles to keep our feet on solid ground and our heads out of the clouds when making decisions.

Some principles for making a wise decision

Did I come to God first and ask Him for wisdom (James 1:5)? There are many examples of people in Scripture who did not consult God first, and it really turned out poorly (Joshua 9:14; Isaiah 30:1-2). Those examples are given to us so that we can keep from repeating history! God promised, and He does not ever break a promise, that He would liberally pour out wisdom upon us if we ask!

Have I consulted His word? His word is designed to give us prudence, the discernment to make sound decisions (Proverbs 1:1-4). Are there clear commands from God on this matter? What consistent Biblical principles can I draw from to help shed light on this matter? Can I find examples of people in Scripture who were in a similar situation? Is this conclusion / choice I am making consistent with Biblical wisdom?

What is the advice of the godly, wise people around me who love me (Proverbs 1:5)? There are many times when the godly, wise men and women around you will speak with one voice on a matter. Take those words seriously.

If you feel like you have to hide your decisions/course of action from the wise godly people around you, then ask yourself “Why is that?” We had better have a really good Biblical reason for not taking the advice of several godly people who surround us.

There are other times when you will get a wide array of advice, sometimes very different advice, and it will all come from very wise and godly people. So we have to go back to #1 and pray for wisdom to discern. Sometimes well-meaning Christians will all say “this is what God wants you to do,” but the problem with that is they may all have several different answers. In this specific instance, I’m not talking about matters of doctrine and sin, I’m talking about things like career choices, education choices, purchasing decisions, relationship advice, etc. Folks have lots of advice, that is why we must do a LOT of praying and searching Scripture for discernment.

Is this a decision I should be making right now (Genesis 25:29-34)? When we are really stressed, tired, and highly emotional, it is not a time to make huge life-changing decisions. Take some time to sleep and recover before you make those big choices. For example, you are really stressed and tired, and you are driving home from work. The tire goes flat. So, in your frustration, you decide to have it towed to the dealership and get a loan for a new car. A simple tire repair turned into a 5 year loan. This is just a made up example, but I hope you can see the point.

How will this decision affect others (1 Corinthians 8:12; 10:32-33)? We do not live in a vacuum; our decisions have direct impact on those around us. Esau’s wives were a grief of mind to his parents. Simeon and Levi’s anger and thirst for vengeance brought shame to their father Jacob. The 1st century Christians also faced this when it came to eating of certain meats and keeping of certain holy days. Their decisions had the power to cause another to stumble and sin. What they decided to do could either draw someone closer to God or make it far more challenging for another to obey God. How will this decision affect my influence upon others for Christ? What will this decision do to my loved ones? Who is looking up to me…how will this influence them?

Does this decision glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31)? Am I making a choice that will bring glory to God or more attention and glory to me? Am I seeking the praise of God or the praise and attention of men?

Hopefully these principles help. It is not all-inclusive, and many of you will have much better ideas. Please share them with me. Thanks!

The Tongue of the Wise Promotes Health

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health (Proverbs 12:18).

The focus for this week has been complaining. Words as we all know, have incredible weight and influence. The above proverb provides a great contrast. A stab wound doesn’t promote health, does it? My words can be a sword thrust through someone or I can promote health. Our words at work and school today can promote health: healthy attitudes, healthy dialogue, healthy teamwork, etc. Or, our complaining and criticizing words will just bring everyone down in the dumps.

Here are a couple of examples:

10 of the 12 spies sent by Moses to look over the land of Canaan brought back a bad report. They were faithless and their words discouraged the hearts of the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 1:28). Caleb, one of the 2 faithful spies, said decades later that the discouraging words of those 10 spies “made the heart of the people melt” (Joshua 14:8).

In contrast, consider King Hezekiah. When surrounded by the powerful army of Assyria, Hezekiah took his stand in faith with God. Not only did he prepare the people militarily, he spoke words of faith and encouragement to the people and directed their hearts to God’s power. “And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:6-8).

See the contrast? I think we all, that means me too, sometimes lose sight of how powerful and influential our speech can be. That’s probably why there is so much in Scripture about our words and their power. Hezekiah strengthened his people while the 10 spies made the hearts of Israel melt into discouragement.

The Tongue of the Wise Promotes Health

I found an interesting passage in Isaiah where the Messiah (Jesus) is speaking in the 1st person about what He is coming to do. In that section there is this statement:

The Lord has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary (Isaiah 50:4).

Jesus, the Messiah, has the tongue of the learned (educated, trained, wise). He knows how to speak a word in season (at the right time) to him who is weary (considering the audience and what is appropriate).

May the Lord give us this same tongue today! Let us train and educate our tongues and hearts. Consider what would be the right thing to say, not what would be the easy thing, or sarcastic thing or funny thing to say.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).

Past articles that might be helpful to you in connection to this topic: