Sunday, July 31, 2016

July 31 - Prov. 31

A good wife, who can find? She is worth far more than diamonds.
Prov. 31:1 MSG

How could I not pick this verse? After 30+ years I'm still in awe of the fact that God brought Rhonda and I together in a God-honouring, adventurous, encouraging, hard working, and enjoyable marriage. We didn't know all of the twists in the road we would take, nor all of the places we would visit, nor the great blessings we would receive and faith-stretching experiences we would face, but we've done it all together.

I can still remember the day that I got a note from her during a class break (I read it in Monday morning Greek Exegesis class), sharing a verse that she had read earlier. We made it our theme verse for our wedding, and have used it to this day as a beacon, our life verse:

For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭48:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What we noticed right away was that it was plural - a team of two - working together on putting God first, and relying on God to fill in the details. We've seen that as we sought God first, that all of the rest of life has been taken care of (Mt. 6:33).

So ... As I read this today, and as I look back over the years, I can only say "Amen" and "Thank you Lord."

Saturday, July 30, 2016

July 30 - Prov. 30

There are four small creatures, wisest of the wise they are— ants—frail as they are, get plenty of food in for the winter; marmots—vulnerable as they are, manage to arrange for rock-solid homes; locusts—leaderless insects, yet they strip the field like an army regiment; lizards—easy enough to catch, but they sneak past vigilant palace guards.
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭30:24-28‬ ‭MSG‬‬

You could subtitle these verses as "lessons from the animal kingdom," or "what I learned on my trip to the zoo." The words of Agur follow the example set by Solomon, who not only gained his wisdom by watching the ways of men and women, but also paid attention to what God was saying through His creation. Agur, who was likely one of the royal scribes of Judah that worked during the days of Ezra and the return of the exiles from Babylon, no doubt found the volumes of literature which Solomon had compiled. In the midst of the thousands of proverbs that Solomon wrote (many which are not included in the book of Proverbs), he may have come across the volumes of literature where Solomon described the plant life and classified the animals (see I Kings 4:33).

Both David and the apostle Paul remind us that God reveals Himself in this way:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭19:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

As Paul went on to say, the creation is not to be worshipped (Rom. 1:25), but is to point us to the greatness of our God, who made all things. The One who gave order to all that has been created is the same One who knows us by name, cares for us, and desires that we come to Him for wisdom for our daily lives.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Prov. 29 - July 29

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.
Prov. 29:11 NIV

Have you ever been in a store when a child throws a tantrum? I was in the grocery store line-up the other day when a boy, who must have been around 10, began to do so over a pack of gum.  It wasn't a pretty sight, but he had no idea of how he was embarrassing his mother, and himself.

Have you ever been in the same room when an adult acted the same way? (I really wanted to say, can you remember a time when you ...).

I'm impressed with how many of the things that the book of Proverbs treats really deals with our self control and discipline. Think before you speak, consider the outcome of your actions, and hold a tight reign on your anger are all part of such God-pleasing behaviour. All of these can be tough to do, when we try to do them in our own power and strength.

But there's a power available to us - one which includes a life of self-control, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, patience, peace, joy and love. The fruit of the Holy Spirit, found in Galatians 5:22,23, and listed above in reverse order, is not only an altruistic list to aim towards, but a gift that comes from walking and keeping in step with the Spirit. This is actually the power for living made available to those who would daily submit to the control and direction of God, and is what it means in Prov. 1:7 when we are told, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."

Thursday, July 28, 2016

July 28 - Prov. 28

Justice makes no sense to the evilminded; those who seek GOD know it inside and out.
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭ 28:5‬ ‭MSG

Yesterday afternoon we welcomed a group of people that are riding bikes across Ontario to raise funds for a ministry which is focused on helping women in crisis. The Love in Motion bike tour is an initiative that is meant to raise awareness of issues of justice and a group of over 30 are peddling across our province in blazing heat and high humidity.

I overheard one of the members of the group talking to someone over his speaker-phone. "You're doing what?" said the man on the other end of the line.

"I'm riding across Canada to raise awareness and to make a difference," said the rider.

"You're crazy, man!" was the answer he received. "You're supposed to be on holidays and should be at a beach."

Those who do not seek God don't know the value of practicing His justice. They will never understand what it means to look out for others or to speak up for them, mostly because they are overwhelmed by their own selfishness; they're more concerned that "life's not fair," to them, than they are thinking of others. They miss out on some of the greatest rewards, for the one who gives to the poor (or helps the needy), gives to the Lord.

In the book of Micah we are told what the Lord requires of us; to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8).‬‬ We're called to take real steps that do this, whether it be participating on a bicycle tour,  or helping at a homeless shelter, or watching for the needs of our neighbor. Those who seek God know that they can't sit by and not participate in the things that matter; things that change lives and bring Christ's Kingdom to those who need it most.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

July 27 - Prov. 27

Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow; you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow.
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:1‬ ‭MSG‬‬

A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:12‬ ‭MSG‬‬

What are we to do with apparent contradictions in the Bible? On the one hand this chapter warns us not to make plans, yet a couple of verses down, we're called wise if we look ahead and take evasive (preparatory) measures. What's a person to do?

The New Testament contains the same comparison. Jesus talked about the wise man who builds his well-planned house upon the rock (Mt. 7:24-27 and Lk. 6:47-49), yet the epistle of James warns about boasting about tomorrow (James 4:13-16).

I think the key to understanding this is found in our attitude towards the future. There's a huge difference between preparation and planning, and boastfully or brashly announcing that you've got everything under control. The truth is that we never know what a day may bring, and our confidence needs not to be on our own cleverness, but rather on God's faithfulness to care and provide for us. This doesn't mean that we go through life with a fatalistic sense of planning - a laissez-faire attitude of que sera, sera - but rather that we learn to commit our plans to the Lord, understanding that he will direct our paths (Prov. 3:5-6; and 16:1, 3). It's the balance between preparing and using our head, while affirming that we are not in control of all things and that our ultimate need is to trust in God; for He is God, and we are not.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 26 - Prov. 26

A proverb quoted by fools is limp as a wet noodle. Putting a fool in a place of honor is like setting a mud brick on a marble column. To ask a moron to quote a proverb is like putting a scalpel in the hands of a drunk. Hire a fool or a drunk and you shoot yourself in the foot.
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭26:7-10‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Eugene Petersom has taken a bit of creative license in this translation, yet he paints contemporary, powerful and funny word pictures. They are reminders that there's a difference between foolishness and good hyperbole; between being trite or cute, and being profound. Solomon uses the very tool of comedy to unmask foolishness for what it is - empty and unproductive.

Who wants to be called a wet noodle or a clay brick in the middle of a marble colomn? Who would put their trust in a drunk surgeon, or more recently in the news, in a drunk airline pilot? Who trusts a person that cannot control themselves (the NIV says "an archer that wounds at random"). No one in their right mind would do such things.

And that's exactly the point of the Proverbs: what do you want to be know for? Our character reflects our motives and the principles that govern our lives. If we focus on the ways of God and His direction for life, we will live different than those who do not. People need to see that difference and be not only be asking "why," but be attracted to the One who makes a difference in our lives.

Monday, July 25, 2016

July 25 - Prov. 25

The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, And a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.
Proverbs 25:11-12

I've heard it said that we all need three levels of mentorship in our lives. We need to have someone speaking truth and teaching us - sort of a Paul to Timothy level. We need someone who walks with us and shares at a personal level, because we're going through the same things - like a Barnabas and Paul level. But we all need to be speaking into the lives of others, giving and speaking from the things that we have learned - like a Barnabas to Saul (before he was known as Paul) level.

Once again I note that how things are said is just as important as what is said - it reflects godly character. How I listen also is a key, for those who dare to speak to us are a gift, not a curse.

Perhaps that's why the three levels are so important: as we learn to listen to wise counsel, we learn how to share it with others, as well as teach it in a loving, life-giving fashion. We learn how to be a gift to others; a tool in the hands of God to shape the lives and character of others.

It also makes me ask, who are the mentors I am listening to? Who are those that I can walk with, share with, and pray as we learn to walk with God together? And who is my "Timothy" or "Joshua" that I am sharing with? I need all three in my life to be a balanced and growing person.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Prov. 24 - July 24

An honest answer is like a warm hug.
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭24:26‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Peterson's translation is quite different from the NIV: "An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips," perhaps reflecting a cultural practice or greeting that's more appropriate for our times. However, the principle that it's not only what we say, but how we say things that reveals our heart and character, is the same message. The author of the Proverbs has presented this truth in a number of ways, pointing out that our words and the delivery of our words, matter.

Jesus, we are told, came to this earth "full of truth and grace" (John 1:14).  The very last recorded words of Peter, the apostle known for his encorajable spirit and ability to put his foot in his mouth, spoke of the need to grow in both grace and the knowledge (truth) Of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Truth and grace can walk together. Christians who hold to moral absolutes don't have to be "Bible thumpers," but can be known as those who love their neighbor, even if they don't agree with them. They are the ones who are able to embrace the truth, as well as the people with whom they share it.

We need more of this in our world; more soft-spoken grace in a world where it seems that the loudest voice is the only one that gets heard (or gets the press). We need truth spoken in the public and private areas of life, but we need messengers who will speak it in an attractive, God-honouring, and God-pointing way.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

July 23 - Prov. 23

Buy truth—don’t sell it for love or money; buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight.
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭23:23MSG‬‬

There are some things that are priceless; things that money can't buy and that should not be taken for granted. We are told to pursue these things and invest our time, energy and money into these things.

While most people would agree with this principle, living it is quite another. We see people wearing themselves out to get rich, which is very different from working hard to provide for your family. Every day there's a new "get rich quick" scheme, which is different than saving and planning. Credit cards provide ease and convenience, but can become a self-imposed ball and chain - a form of financial slavery - if you're not wise with them. Riches and amassing material goods should never be confused with happiness and contentment, yet the pursuit of prosperity remains one of the toughest temptations to weed out.

Our relationships to God, those closest to us, and to others needs be a priority; the thing that we seek first and foremost. This is what Jesus meant when he said "Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all of the "other stuff of life - those things you need and spend time worrying about - will be provided for you" (my loose translation).  This isn't a cop-out for not planning, or working hard, or being level-headed when it comes to money, but rather a directive (a moral compass) that guides our direction, desires, and attention.

Friday, July 22, 2016

July 22 - Prov. 22

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or fine gold,
Proverbs 22:1, NIV

There are times when doing the right thing, or being the right kind of person, will cost you. It will cost you more money when you might take advantage of a person, or returning the wrong change when paying a bill. It will often cost you more time when working on a project where you could take short-cuts, or cover something up instead of properly fixing it, but chose not to do so. It will cost you the jeers of teammates or onlookers when you insist on playing by the rules, even though your team might gain for the injustice. It may cost you all of these things, but it will never cost you your good reputation.

We are known by our words and by our actions. These things reflect back not only on us as people, but on our family, our church, and our God. They can make or break a company's name. They generally start with small things - like returning that extra quarter that the cashier at the grocery store gave you - but end with much bigger things. They are the things that our children, neighbours, and colleagues are watching, even though we don't know it.

In the end, I want to be known for things like "a man with a heart after God" (Acts 13:22), "a good man, full of faith and the Holy Spirit" (Acts 11:24), and "one who does not need to be ashamed, but correctly handles the Word of God" (2 I'm. 2:15). These are more desirable than great riches.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 21 - Prov. 21

Sinners are always wanting what they don’t have; the God-loyal are always giving what they do have.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭21:26‬ ‭MSG‬‬

It was that great British "theologian," Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, that said it this way: "Ain't got no satisfaction." The Apostle Paul said it another way: "I've learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:12b-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬). He also said in another portion of scripture that "godliness with contentment is great gain" 1 Tim. 6:6).

Throughout my years of living in different countries I've seen this in many ways. I've stood in the marble-floored mansion of a family that lost its sons to addiction and greed; they would trade everything to have their boys back. I've sat at a rough two-plank table, dogs and chickens scurrying at my feet on the dirt floor, as the pastor's wife served us the best Mexican food I've ever eaten in my life; they shared what they had with a grateful heart. I've also been in the home of a millionaire who opened his doors to an entire group of young people and said "make yourselves at home" as we used his mountainside chalet as the base for a youth retreat, and sat with a family in their tiny one-room, concrete block house, as they refused to forgive and welcome back a wayward child.

None of this has anything to do with how much we do or do not have; it's all about how we hold the possessions and things that God has blessed us with. It's about a heart attitude of contentment and gratitude, recognizing Him as the giver and provider of all things, including our health, material blessings, and time.

I think that we forget that Solomon was speaking from experience (at the wrong end of the spectrum), living a life  of opulence and luxury, as he said: "Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack than share a mansion with a nagging spouse" (Prov. 21:9‬ ‭MSG‬‬) and “Better to live in a tent in the wild than with a cross and petulant spouse" (Prov. 21:19‬ ‭MSG‬‬).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 20 - Prov. 20

Form your purpose by asking for counsel, then carry it out using all the help you can get.
Proverbs‬ ‭20:18‬ ‭MSG‬‬

I've had the privilege of working with some good people in my life, but a few stand out as wise men and women that knew the right thing to say at the right time. One of those people was a man who had two teenage boys in our youth group (Rhonda and I served as Youth leaders in the church), and his encouragement was always appreciated. Even when he said no to an outlandish idea he had a way of saying it that didn't make us get defensive or feel put down. He was part of a group of God-fearing leaders over our lives who not only had authority (technically the board was our  boss), but he cared deeply for us as a young couple in ministry.

When that man suddenly passed away there was a huge gap for us - one of our "go-to guys" was gone. But one of the principles we learned was that you can never have too many wise, caring and godly people that speak into your life. Recognizing who these people are and seeking them out has become a pattern that has saved us in many ways, and they are a true gift from God.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July 19 - Prov. 19

“Blockheads shouldn’t live on easy street any more than workers should give orders to their boss. Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭19:10-11‬ ‭MSG‬‬

The contrast between the wise and the unwise is magnified in these two verses, especially in the translation, The Message. Who would ever want to be known as a blockhead? Who doesn't admire the person who can hold their tongue and are known for a forgiving spirit?

The whole point of these contrasts (and the book of Proverbs) is to ask the reader, "Which person are you?"

We are formed by the choices we make and known by our character. God invites us to walk with Him through all of life's choices; through the good and bad, through the difficult and the easy. "Today, I chose to follow you" is not only a song, but it's a way of life that holds out the promise of the presence of God.

Monday, July 18, 2016

“Many words rush along like rivers in flood, but deep wisdom flows up from artesian springs.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:4‬ ‭MSG‬‬

There are a great deal of good things in this chapter of the Proverbs, like how we use our words, to not being partial, to "Find a good spouse, you find a good life— and even more: the favor of GOD!”
‭‭(Proverbs‬ ‭18:4, 22‬ ‭MSG‬‬). But that's not the verse that stood out for me today.

We are bombarded with information and images, whether it be TV, radio, or Internet. The fast pace of information leaves little time for us to sit back to think through the information presented, let alone give consideration to how it affects us or how we should react.

Wisdom, on the other hand, can stop you dead in your tracks. It causes you to ask people to repeat what they've just said, and to stop what you are doing. It's that word spoken at just the right time and place. It's the word that is worth taking the time to search for, like a key that will unlock a great treasure or open the door for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. God's word invites us to look in the right place for it; not in the rushing stream of inforation that passes us each day, but in the deep waters of a well that will not run dry.

When I'm fishing, the "big ones" are seldom found in the rushing currents. Rather, they are in the quiet pools that rest at the end of those faster waters; waiting in the calm. It strikes me that wisdom and a guiding word from the Lord are much the same.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 17 - Prov. 17

He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.
Proverbs 17:5

We live in a world that seems to be increasing in violence. Terrorism now tops the list of things that people fear, and weekly the media serves up a new list of atrocities. Groups like ISIS claim victory and use the publicity as a recruiting tool. I'm sure that many people are asking "where is God in all of this?" and when and how can justice be served?

The same questions were asked on 9/11. A response from Tim Keller, a New York City pastor, stood out for me. His comments to a CNN reporter were that God was present in the first responders who rushed in to save lives, some making the ultimate sacrifice. God was in the thousands of people who came alongside the desperate and hurting, giving of themselves to serve others. God was present as a crushed people dealt with the reality of a broken and fallen world where at times it seems like evil has the upper hand.

The only comfort that I can take from this passage is that God knows. The hate-filled actions of radicalized people don't go unnoticed. The pain and cries of mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, who have lost loved ones, is also felt by the Heavenly Father. When terror is unleashed, God doesn't turn His back, for He knows the end of the story, and He is righteous and good.  We're told that the guilty "will not go unpunished."

Saturday, July 16, 2016

July 16 - Prov. 16

We plan the way we want to live, but only GOD makes us able to live it.
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:9‬ ‭

This Proverb is one of my favourite readings, as it speaks a great deal about God's direction and guidance. It speaks of plans and mapping out a course for our lives and in some ways adds a practical element to the "He will make your paths straight" of Proverbs 3:5-6.

But what I find most interesting in the Proverb is that God doesn't offer a formula, rather he offers Himself and a relationship. He still leaves decision making and much of the discernment process to us, even though it may cost some bumps in the road or detours along the way. Instead of smooth sailing and a life of ease, often we get "learning experiences" and character building experiences.

It seems that the trusting in the Lord gets tested in these times; in those situations when things don't always work out like we expect. Much like Jeremiah 29:11 - I know the plans I have for you, plans for your good" - which refer not to blessing and prosperity, but to 70 years of exile, God's faithfulness is shown in all circumstances. God walks with us and directs us through all of life, if we let Him and if we look to Him.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.
Proverbs 15:1 MSG

The first verse of this Proverb introduces a theme that runs throughout the chapter; it tells us that not only what we say matters, but how we say it. We can spread knowledge, be a tree of life, act as peacemakers, and a whole lot more - or as James 3:6 says, it can be a fire of destruction.

We shouldn't confuse encouraging speech with glossing over the truth or not saying what needs to be said. This Proverb points out that at the same time the wise person seeks out, even invites correction. He or she seeks the counsel of many wise counsellors and makes it a habit to listen to the wise.

I see Jesus as a master of the power of positive speech. This isn't to say that he backed away from the difficult things to say, nor that he never needed to confront, but In world that is full of negative, life-sapping speech, part of the attraction He had with others was this quality. That's how we as His followers are encouraged to be; that's part of the "aroma of Christ" that we are to spread (2 Cor. 2:15).

Thursday, July 14, 2016

July 14 - Prov. 14

The gullible believe anything they’re told; the prudent sift and weigh every word.
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭14:15‬ ‭MSG‬‬

The call to listen and consider Biblical wisdom is not a mindless or blind exercise. We're encouraged to consider the outcomes of our decisions and to be fully aware of the consequences of our actions.

The New Testament writers were of the same mindset; encouraging Christ's followers to de disciplined in their thought life. In 1 John 4:1 we read that we are to "test" every spirit. The Apostle Paul wrote that we take "every thought captive" to make it obedient to the Lord Jesus (2 Cor. 10:5). In Romans 12:1-2 we learn that our act of offering ourselves as living sacrifices is part of the transformation and renewing of our minds. The Philippians were encouraged to think on those things that were true, noble, right, pure, admirable, praiseworthy and excellent (Phil. 4:8).

This takes work and effort; it is a disciplined life that learns to listen to the voice of God and discern how to put biblical principles into practice. It involves spending time in God's word, meditating upon it, and allowing it to settle deep into our souls. It's a lifestyle of opening our hearts and minds to what the Lord would say to us. It's the attitude of the boy Samuel who was trained to say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening."

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July 13 - Prov. 13

Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.
Prov. 13:20 MSG

"Chose your friends wisely" and "be careful of the company that you keep" are things that my parents used to say. In my youth I didn't always understand the deep implications of this, but as I look back I see wisdom in those words. It's amazing how this principle can be seen, even in things like Facebook postings.

There are many friendships that built me up and made me who I am. There were mentors that guided and led me in paths that strengthened my relationship to the Lord and encouraged me to pursue a life of integrity. As I rubbed shoulders with godly men and women (and peers), something rubbed off on me. Their Facebook postings are filled with family pictures and show enduring, God-honouring friendships.

But there were other "friends," that looking back, could have ended in disasters and destruction. Foolishness and disrespect marked their lives, and to this day their Facebook postings reflect such a life. They were hell-bent on a path that ended exactly there.

Today I'm reminded that it's never too late to "walk with the wise."

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

July 12 - Prov. 12

You can't find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm.    Prov. 12:3 MSG

This verse put a song in my heart for today - and reminds me of the words of Jesus: The wise man built his house upon the rock (see Luke 6:46-49).
It's not a bad way to start the day, singing this song.
In Christ Alone
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! - who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.
Stuart Townend & Keith GettyCopyright © 2001 Thankyou Music (Adm. by excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family,

Monday, July 11, 2016

July 11 - Prov. 11

A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Prov. 11:25

There are a number of ways to look at prosperity, but a common thread that runs throughout the Bible is that God's blessing goes beyond material things. From the book of Genesis Abraham was told that he would be blessed in order that he could be a blessing to others (Gen. 12:3), to the end of Revelation (Rev. 22:14), those who stand before God are called a blessed people. This is not measured in bank accounts, accumulation of goods, or if we have the latest gadgets; it's measured in wealth of character, a generous spirit, and an attractive graciousness that cannot be bought or sold.

It must be noted that the principle of "you reap what you sow" (Gal. 6:7-10) is taught in the context of the filling of the Holy Spirit. It is a natural outflow of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, and not something that is done for reciprocity. The same holds true for this verse in the Proverbs, and for all the teaching associated with God's blessing in the chapters to follow. All that we receive from the Lord is not to be hoarded, but it is given to be shared (Prov. 11:10, 11).

Sunday, July 10, 2016

July 10 - Prov. 10

The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.
Prov. 10:9

I'm interested in the many comparisons in this chapter. They all beg the question of me: Which one are you? How do I want to be known? What is the end result of such a life? Consider these:

The wise son vs. the foolish son. (v. 1)
Lazy hands vs. diligent hands. (v. 4)
The wise son vs. the disgraceful son (v. 5).
The righteous vs. the wicked (v. 7).

The entire chapter follows this pattern, touching on themes like our work ethic, how we use our words, and the reason we make the choices that we do. They are all a matter of our heart coming to the forefront, and underline the main verse from which I will speak later this morning - Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Prov. 4:23).

Saturday, July 9, 2016

July 9 - Prov. 9

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his knowledge.
Prov. 9:9

The world we live in has what seems to be an abundance of knowledge at its fingertips. Any question you may have is just a few keystrokes away from a list of Google links or YouTube videos that will provide a host of answers. Wikipedia has replaced the encyclopedias that gather dust on our shelves. We live in an age of instant answers and abundant information.

And yet all the information in the world cannot help the person who does not have a teachable spirit. These people often cloak themselves with pride and arrogance, claiming to have all the answers. However, this chapter in the Proverbs calls it something else: folly. It is represented by a figure that also calls out in the streets and makes great claims, yet she mocks common sense and leads her suitors to the grave (v. 13-18).

There is a gift in store for those with a teachable spirit; new understanding of the riches and depth of a relationship with the author and creator of life. Once again we are reminded that "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (v. 10).

Friday, July 8, 2016

July 8 - Prov. 8

Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each day, alert and responsive as I start my days work.       Prov. 8:34 MSG

There is something about a daily habit that will reap its benefits and rewards, or reap its destruction and consequences. Some of these habits, like getting out for a daily walk, are constructive, while others, like eating donuts for breakfast, can be destructive. So too the realm of our spiritual lives.

The 8th chapter of Proverbs personifies wisdom as a lady that can be sought out. She dwells with prudence, counsel, and sound judgement (v. 12-14), and is the first work of the Lord. She was present at creation (v. 22-30) and governs the world that we live in. She is to be sought out daily and whoever finds her finds favour from the Lord (v. 35).

Compare this to John 1:1-4:  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God from the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

God's offer of wisdom to those who seek Him does not speak of quantity or a volume of knowledge, but it is a relationship with the maker of heaven and earth; the author and giver of life. What God looks for in our lives is a daily walk with him as we lay out our plans, dreams, frustrations and shortcomings, ready to speak into them with all of the wisdom and insight that we need for the day. Each day we can seek Him first, and all of the "stuff of life" will be added unto us (A loose translation of Matthew 6:33).

Thursday, July 7, 2016

July 7 - Prov. 7

Today we have a guest posting her thoughts about Proverbs 7. She asked to remain anonymous, so I'll honour her request, but the invitation remains open to those who would also like to join in.

Proverbs 7 

When reading Chapter 7 of the Proverbs it reminds me a lot of the song of Solomon.  

There are many contracts throughout the chapter... 

When we read Solomon's warnings against the immoral women, we see that Christ is warning His Church, His bride to remain true to Him and not be drawn in by every doctrine we hear, but to be alert and weigh whatever we hear by the Word of God. The harlot or the immoral women pictured here is a good picture of the corrupt world system. We, as believers can also be seduced by a religious system. There is a great difference in being a "religious" person and a person who follows Jesus. We are warned not to be seduced or fooled by the harlot religious system that is works based and we are strongly urged to remain loyal to the purity and holiness of God and His grace (Ephesians 4:19). They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. Verses 20 -24 go on to encourage us to throw off the old man and put on the new man.

The seductive women entices her prey in the darkness, we are encouraged to see Jesus who is the light of the world. The temptress blinds the men or victim by her beauty and pleasant words, offering pleasure with no consequences much like satan tempts believers. Man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed and when lust has conceived it bringeth forth sin and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death. (James 1:14)

Prov. 7:11 describes this women as "never content"... God's Word encourages us to be content, regardless of our circumstances. Godliness with contentment brings great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)

When she talks about her bed, she describes the sheets or "covering" of the bed, going on and on about how beautiful they are, how good they smell, feel, etc.  She appeals to the emotions and feelings..   God's Word encourages believers to live under the "covering of the shed blood of Christ" which is for our salvation but also for our protection against evil. We are further encouraged to walk by faith and not by sight.

In summary, In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer because Jesus said, I have overcome the world.  John 16: 33


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

July 6 - Prov. 6

"my son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching."  Prov. 6:20

I'm not sure if you noticed, but in a book that mostly does not follow themes, this is the second chapter with a large chunk of scripture dedicated to one topic: adultery. (But wait, there's more! - Spoiler alert - the next chapter continues the theme.)

Coupled with the fact that this section begins with an appeal to keep his father's commands and not to forsake his mother's teaching, one has to wonder if Solomon had a chip on his shoulder.

But the truth is that he did have a personal interest in speaking about the issue. He was the second son of an adulterous relationship, and his father was the one who did not heed wisdom (II Sam. chapters 11 and 12). His family had a history of sibling incest, and suffered division, distrust and murder as a result (II Sam. chapters 13-18). Solomon himself used marriage as a political tool of power and influence (I Kings chapter 11), and did not heed his own advice to remember the wife of his youth.

It is generally accepted that the compilation of the Proverbs took place during the later stages of Solomon's life, hoping to leave a legacy that his sons would follow. The sayings of wisdom, especially as they contrast a righteous and a wayward life, beg the reader to make a choice, but the sad truth is that Solomon's sons did not listen to their father, and suffered for it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July 5 - Prov. 5

Mark well that God doesn't miss a move you make, he's aware of every step you take. The shadow of  your sin will overtake you; you'll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark.
     Prov. 5:21, 22 (MSG)

Sometimes I find it helpful to read a passage from a different perspective or translation. Such was the case this morning as I read chapter 5 from The Message, a translation by Eugene Peterson. It reads more like a paraphrase and uses terms expressions and a wording that you might hear on the street.

In one of the few chapters that is fully dedicated to one theme (Peterson uses "the seductive woman" instead of calling her "the adulteress"), I note that the path to sin always starts as something that looks innocent, yet it grows and the end result will be devastating and destructive. It's what the NT speaks of in James 1:14-15 - "but each one is tempted when , by their own desire, they are dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full grown, gives birth to death" (NIV).

The "growing shadow of your sin" needs to be nipped in the bud early in the process, before it grows into a life of bad choices and regrets. It's part of the reason why Solomon, in his later years, reminds us and tells us to "remember our Creator in our youth" (Eccl. 12:1). Don't let the shadow grow so long that it overtakes, but turn to the One who offers forgiveness, life, and a new start.

Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4 - Prov. 4

July 4 - Prov. 4

"Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Prov. 4:23

Here are some tips for a healthy heart:

1. Eat the right things. Jesus said, "Do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4)

2. Do regular exercise. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)

3. Get plenty of rest. But those who wait (rest or trust) on the Lord shall renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

July 3 - Prov. 3

"By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew."  Prov. 3:19-20

Each day I'm exposed to a complex world that is magnificent. Each day the truth that "the heavens declare the glory of God" (Psm. 19:1) is set before me. The intricacies of how our universe functions fills volumes of texts, yet we're told that we're just scratching the surface.

But the scriptures don't give us a science text that answer all of the 'how' questions, but rather simply tell us Who created the heavens and the earth. The mystery and discovery of it all is left to us, both to satisfy our hunger for knowledge and to point us to our Creator. He waits and longs to reveal Himself to us, not only as the Intelligent Designer, but also as our personal Saviour and Lord.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Day 2 - Prov. 2

"... and if you look for it (wisdom) as for silver and search for it as hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.   Prov. 2:4-5

While Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, this chapter starts off by encouraging the reader to "store up God's commandments, turn our ear to wisdom, and apply our heart to understanding." (Prov. 2:1-2)  This forms part of a triad of how we approach God with our head, heart and hands - knowing God's word, letting it sink into our souls, and applying it to our lives.

And we are to search for it with all of the diligence of finding buried treasure - tenacious in our efforts to go after it and tireless in our resolve until we find Him. This requires more than a one time reciting of James 1:5 ("If any of you lack wisdom, let them ask...), which is all too often our "Hail Mary" or final attempt when we've come to the end of our resources. It is planned, focused on God's Word, and diligent. It reveals our hunger and thirst for God in our lives which goes beyond the temporal and circumstantial - seeking to know Him more and find the hidden treasures that enable us to face all that life may throw our way.