Archive for January, 2011

verse 5: “He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; he who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished.”

In this modern age, we get a lot of news and sports information from online news sources. In addition, the publisher of those news stories invites the reader to register (usually for free) and post a comment on the story. It seems that there are 3 types of “posters”: the one who is leaving a comment having nothing to do with the story, but looking for free “advertising”; the intelligent poster who is giving a well-thought out response to the article (whether you agree with their opinion or not); and the poster who gives the less-than-thought-out response. It is the last of these groups who seem to take delight in a person’s misfortunes, more than often.

Solomon is warning us in this verse, that God will judge those who mock the poor. The Holman Concordance on Proverbs (pg. 173) says it another way in that “when you mock the poor, you mock their Maker”. After all, we are all made in God’s image…and God will not be mocked.

So before you make fun of someone else’s misfortunes, take a minute and think about it. To quote a familiar phrase, WWJD: what would Jesus do?

Have a blessed day!


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verse 3: “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests hearts.”

Those familiar with the refining and purifying processes for silver and gold recognize the first part of the verse above. It is through the fire that the dross metals are removed, leaving the purified silver and gold in return. The process also tests the raw material, to see how much of it is “true” silver or gold.

Recently, there was some chatter on sports boards about the Chicago Bears football team, regarding its quarterback, Jay Cutler. Some were questioning his playing “heart” after he left the 2011 NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers with a knee injury. Some former players around the league and some fans were saying that you’d have to drag them off the field half-broken before they’d leave the championship game, especially against your arch-rivals (for the record, the Packers won the game). Cutler was reportedly visibly upset that his heart was being questioned, that he would “bail” on this teammates. Most of his teammates and his coach came to his defense, stating that Jay was truly injured and couldn’t go back in.

I cannot comment on the situation, but I mentioned that story to point to the verse above in analogy: though people love to pass judgment on another person’s heart, commitment, or “guts”, it is the Lord who is the Tester of hearts. He made us, and He alone is the Refiner, the Tester, the Prover. You know what’s great, though? Even if we flunk the “test”, He gives us a second chance in Jesus to take that test again. If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, accept Him today into your heart and life….and you’ll pass the test with flying colors.

Something to think about.

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verse 1: “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it Than a house full of feasting with strife.”

“Is it worth it?” is a question most people will weigh when considering loss coupled with the chance for gain.

Many stories, ranging from Aesop’s fables to even myths such as King Midas, often point out the folly of sacrificing a lot for what seems to be riches galore…only to discover what you have lost was even more precious. I’m reminded of one of the cartoons I enjoyed watching: Batman: The Animated Series. It was similar to the old campy Batman TV show of the 1960’s, only in that both series had big name talent as guest stars; the cartoon was done much more seriously. The cartoon had cast recognizable celebrities as many of the voices. In the episode that introduced the villain known as the Riddler, Batman and Robin save his victim, head of a corporation that made millions off Edward Nygma’s (who would become the Riddler) contract work legally; obviously the Riddler wanted revenge for his “perceived” injustice at not sharing in the success of his work. Though they save the corporate head from death, the Riddler got away. That corporate head, whose name was Mockridge, pocketed millions off the company deal to bring it to Gotham City.

That didn’t sit well with Dick Grayson (Robin) who groused about the injustice that occurred. But Bruce Wayne (Batman) pointed out to him that, maybe Mockridge got away with it…and maybe he didn’t come out smelling like roses. The episode closes with the multi-rich Mockridge, living in fear in his own house, with multiple locks on his doors, always checking every corner for fear of the Riddler’s revenge, trying to sleep while nearby is a shotgun he carries with him. The scene fades with the sound of Batman’s voice saying, “how much is a good night’s sleep worth? Now, there…is a riddle.”

Peace is not overrated, and material success does have its costs. Learn to be content today in what God gives you.

Something to think about.

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verse 32: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.”

What’s the difference between an electric range oven and a gas range oven, besides the obvious power source? Speed of heat. You see, you turn on a gas range and POOF, instant flame, instant heat. You turn on an electric range, and it takes a little while for the eye on the stove to come to heating temperature. In today’s world, more people are like gas ranges than electric ranges. Instant everything; they want instant news, instant results, and sometimes reactions are instant.

Solomon was saying that for one who can control their temper and can maintain reign over spirit, it is they who are better than the mightiest soldier who could capture a city. Sometimes, we only have one chance to make a first impression; sometimes, it can take one instant of lost control to ruin a lifetime’s reputation.

The story goes that a preacher had two clear jars on his pulpit as an object lesson for his congregation; both had liquid in them. Both liquids look yellowish, but that’s all the casual observer could see from the pews. Only after the jars were tipped over was it revealed that one contained honey…and the other contained vinegar. The preacher’s point was that you don’t know how people will react until they are…upset.

When there are trying times (and there will be!), pray to God to give you that control you need. After all, He might be using that moment to test if you are honey or vinegar….both look the same from a distance, but oh how different they are!

Have a blessed day!

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Proverbs 16:14-20

verse 20: “He who gives attention to the word shall find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.”

“What’s the first rule when helping Daddy?”
“Follow instructions.”

This is the advice I give my children when they want to help Daddy do something (or when Daddy needs them to do something!) One of the humorous stereotypes of men in society today is that they don’t ask for help or directions. Maybe I’m not stereotypical; the first thing I do when something has to be assembled is read the instructions and check the enclosed parts to make sure nothing is missing. One time, I almost finished assembling something…let me stress, ALMOST finished…when I discovered I was missing a screw that was necessary. Thankfully, I had a spare screw that could be used, else that story wouldn’t have ended well! That’s why I check beforehand and follow the instructions.

God gives us instructions; He gave us His Word. It also says plainly above that he “who gives attention to the word shall find good”. So, is it time to stop what you’re trying to do…and go back and read the instructions?

Something to think about.

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verse 11: “A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; All the weights of the bag are His concern.”

I was listening to the local sports radio station last week, and the current topic was the Green Bay Packers versus Atlanta Falcons playoff game, set for that Saturday. One caller made a statement that caught my attention: “Some folks like the teams that are hot versus the teams that are consistent”. Consistency. You want to know that something or someone will act or react in the same predictable manner or behave in the same reliable way.

That’s how it was with merchants weighing out goods using weights of gold or silver (in the time before coinage was used); sometimes they’d using differing weights to “skim a little more profit”. I read the background on this in the Holman concordance on Proverbs, page 245. “[God] is the source of all standards of right and wrong, and we measure everything against [H]is absolute truth and holiness.”

Many times we have heard the cry for fairness, for justice. Such fairness and justice start with the Author of those standards…God. On this Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, take a moment to consult God on what’s fair and just. Thank Him for mercy too: remember, if He gave us what was fair…that would be us on the cross, instead of Jesus.

Something to think about.

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verse 9: “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”

In the movie adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which is sort of a Justice League of literary heroes), Allan Quatermain and Tom Sawyer are pursuing Mr. Hyde through the back alleys of Paris. Quatermain the hunter shoots and misses Mr. Hyde, who dodges the shot (by the way, Allan Quatermain never misses what he shoots at). Sawyer remarks, “you missed him.” Quatermain replies, “I wasn’t trying to hit him…..turn left, Mr. Hyde.” as he shoots again, making Hyde turn left. It is only several scenes later that the viewer sees that Quatermain has been deftly corralling Hyde into a trap to capture him, all the while Hyde thinking he was escaping his pursuers.

Man thinks he can plan every step of his future, that he is the sole captain at the wheel of the ship. However, he fails at times to remember a simple fact I have stated on several of these devotions….God is in control. Similar to modern GPS devices that tell you when you stray and direct you back to the mapped path, God has a way of directing our steps in life. If you don’t have Jesus charting the course for your life….isn’t it about time you gave Him the wheel?

Something to think about.

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verses 6-7: “By lovingkindness and truth, iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil. When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

There is a hymn that comes to mind as I read these verses:

“When we walk with the Lord
In the light of his Word
What a glory he sheds on our way!
Let us do his good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.”

–When We Walk with the Lord, #409, The Baptist Hymnal, 1975 Edition

Are you trusting and obeying Him today?

Something to think about.

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verse 4: “The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.”

I have 3 cross references to the above verse in my Bible; they are as follows:

Genesis 1:31 – “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”

Romans 9:22 – “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?”

The Holman concordance on Proverbs, page 97, has an interesting statement on this verse too: “Finally, verse 4 shows that God controls even the wicked person, using his evil actions to bring about divine purposes (Rom. 8:28).” By the way, Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

There is an old tale I remember hearing in a sermon, that relates how a poor, elderly Christian woman would wake up every morning, and go out to her front porch, praising God for all He had done for her. She would praise Him for even the meager things she had. Next door to her lived an atheist, who bitterly detested this daily activity of her praising God. One day, he set out to “teach her a lesson”; knowing she was poor, he went out very early and bought a couple of bags of groceries and set them on her front doorstep. He hid nearby her front porch. When she came out for her morning prayers, she was astonished at the unexpected groceries and thanked God for them. The atheist stood up from his hiding place and said “Ha! There is no God, old woman; I bought those groceries myself and set them on your porch!” A moment of silence passed…and the woman praised God in a loud voice saying, “Thank you Lord for these groceries! And you even got the devil to deliver them to me!!”

God is in control; never underestimate His power or His ways.

Have a blessed day!

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Proverbs 16:1-2

Happy New Year to all of you! As promised, we’ll start 2011 by picking up with Proverbs 16.

verse 2: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.”

Why do you think most sports have officials? Take football, for instance; why do we have the referee and their officiating crew? What if both sides were to just agree to abide by the rules, not to cheat and not to play dishonestly? Well, that might work for a while…but eventually you would have a situation in which both sides would claim that the effects of a play or action were in their favor, even if one was clearly wrong. It would be up to the referee and the other officials to apply the rules independently, and rule who was in the right and who was in the wrong.

People are like that too. There are leaders in world history, that history shows were clearly in the wrong with their actions. Yet when these leaders were interviewed, they claim they did all that they did…for the right reasons! I know an individual whose actions are more than often questioned, because they are not in the best interest of his family. Yet, he’ll plead that he is the victim in these cases, not the one doing wrong!

God knows us better than we know ourselves; after all, He made us! He will judge our actions and our motives from His perspective, and His ruling will be just and right and final…for He is God. Tis better to seek His counsel on our ways, so that the judgment of them will be in accordance with His will.

Something to think about.

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