December 8, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 14

Well, it’s not getting any better! Chapter 14 is chock-full of truths as well… where do I start? PLEASE read it carefully, but here are a few observations.

There are several references to what makes a fool in this chapter. I know that you and I don’t want to be one, so we need to pay attention to what it says.

“A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him, 
but the words of the wise keep them safe.” (v.3)

“Fools make fun of guilt,
 but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.” (v.9)

“Short-tempered people do foolish things…” (v.17a)

“… a hot temper shows great foolishness.” (v.29b)

What we say shows our heart. Be careful what you’re revealing when you open your mouth. Our temper makes us look foolish. It hurts us and our families so much.

Several verses deal with our emotions and our trust in God.

“Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” (v.13)

“A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body,
jealousy is like cancer in the bones.” (v.3)

Peace only comes from God. It’s a fruit of the Spirit. So many Christians live without it, and life without peace is so destructive.

The last three I want to share with you are my favorites:

“Without oxen a stable stays clean,
 but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” (v.4)

Ministry is messy! Sometimes in the midst of complaining, we forget verse 4. Our barns can be spotless if we have no oxen, but then we go hungry. If there are cows in the barn, there will be a mess. But even that is a blessing from the Lord.

“Those who fear the LORD are secure; 
he will be a refuge for their children.” (v.26)

Verse 26 really strikes me. What I do affects my children so much! When I fear the Lord, that becomes a refuge for my kids!

“Godliness makes a nation great,
 but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (v.34)

Especially during this upcoming critical election year, let’s pray for our country – for God to move and to use us to bring change. America is great, but only as long as “In God We Trust.”

Posted by: Tim Parsons

December 7, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 13

“Hey! Watch yo mouth…”

The title you just read should have a Rocky Balboa “accent” attached to it. It should be followed by the words, “you talk’n to me?”

As funny as it seems, we actually should “watch our mouths.” In fact, we should guard them extremely carefully. This chapter has so much straightforward advice, but perhaps one of the greatest is found in verses 2-3. Why are these verses so important? Well, verse 3 goes as far to say that, “whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

Really? Your mouth can really set the direction of your life? The answer is yes. And it will steer your life in the wrong way if you’re not careful. It doesn’t matter how pure your intentions are when you are in your “quiet time.” If you don’t guard your mouth outside of it, you will find yourself on a slippery slope to ruin. Remember, Jesus’ second most important command is to love people. We have no business worrying about anything else until we get this in check.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

The Lord has been working in me about this topic, here are some principles I’ve learned:

1. When necessary, say hard things, but in gracious ways. – Your tone and attitude can communicate the same words in two completely different ways. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

2. Pray before you speak. – Of course you can’t do this about everything, but be aware that just because your feelings are telling you to speak something, it doesn’t mean the Lord is telling you to speak something. Ask yourself the question, “Is it necessary?”

3. Consider timing and type. – Timing: Just because you want to get it off your chest right now, it does not mean that now is the right time. This takes self-control. Things to consider:

• Are there others around that will make it embarrassing for the other person?

• What is going on in their life? Are your words going to be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back? If so, refrain.

• Are your emotions going to drown out your words? If you are in a hyper-emotional state, press pause.

Type: Is face to face necessary? Consider that emails, texts, and Fb messages are often misinterpreted. It also gives you a little too much “boldness.” It may protect you to do it in person.

4. Consider your purpose. – Honestly. Is your purpose to build up the other person in love? Or is it to prove your point? If it’s the first, this must change before you speak, and my guess is once your purpose changes, your words will too. You may not even want to say it anymore. – Ephesians 4:29

I have been memorizing and meditating on Ephesians 4:29-32. I highly encourage you to do the same. Just as a small insight into this verse; it says to “let NO unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but ONLY what is good for building up.” “NO” and “ONLY.” Those are absolute words, friends.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

December 6, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 12

This chapter is filled with a barrage of life lessons and wise quotes for us to live by. There are several topics discussed here. There is, however, a running theme throughout the chapter. We see a contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Each verse, each proverb, tells us about the righteous path and it’s reward and the wicked and their end. Below is a chart of the characteristics of each and their corresponding verses.

Righteous

Rooted; Firm-vv.3, 7, 21
Kind- vv.2, 10,
Just- v.5
Loves Discipline- v.1
Hard Worker- vv. 11, 14, 24, 27
Wise- v.8
Listener- v.15
Noble-v. 4
Truthful- vv. 17, 22
Patient-v. 16
Graceful Speech- vv.14,18,23, 25
Peace Promoter- v.20
Eternal Life- v.28

Wicked

Stupidity- vv.1, 11
Condemnation- v.2
Shaky Life- vv. 3, 7, 21, 26
Deceit- vv.5, 17, 20, 22
Poor Reputation- v. 8
Cruel- v. 10
Decay to the bones-v. 4
Looking for easy gain-v. 12
Evil Speech- vv. 6, 18, 23
Self-wise- v. 15
Lacks Self-control- v. 16, 23
Lazy- vv.11, 12, 24, 27
Anxious-v. 25

So when you read this chapter and see these character qualities where do you see yourself? Are you living a life that could be called a righteous life? Maybe you see yourself on both sides of the chart. Maybe you are doing well in some areas but need to improve in others. We can praise God that, through Jesus, we have His righteousness and are counted by God to be on the righteous side of the chart. This does not give us any excuses to not strive for the righteous life. Spend some time today examining your life and asking yourself, “where am I on this chart?” When you see an area of weakness and wickedness ask God to give you the grace and strength to overcome it, and, move toward being more like Jesus in that area of your life.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

December 5, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 11

I’m facing a conundrum. Where do I begin? Every verse in this chapter has something powerful to say and I can’t touch on all of them!! Let me encourage you to read this chapter carefully.

Here are some highlights:

– Verse one reminds us that God demands honesty. This is true in every area of our lives. There’s no such thing as “a little white lie” to Him. A half a truth is a whole lie to God. Verse 20 says, “The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD, 
But the blameless in their walk are His delight.”

How’s your heart? How do your habits stack up? Are you impeccably honest? What needs to change?

Verse 3 reminds us that integrity produces honesty. Integrity is what you would do if you could do anything you wanted and no one would ever find out – and there would be no consequences. What would you do? That’s who you really are!

– Verse 2 deals with pride – this hits home to all of us. It says that pride brings dishonor – but humility produces wisdom.

Where are your pride landmines? Where are the places pride most often rears its ugly head in your life?

– Righteousness simply means living right. Verse 6 reminds us that our righteousness will deliver us – but evil will destroy us. I LOVE verse 11…

“By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, 
But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.”

How are we a blessing to our city by our righteousness? What does God want to use us to do at our school or our job?

Then, of course, verse 22 is just fun!

“As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout 
So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.”

So much to think about today…

What can you apply to your life today? What does God want you to adjust? What are you going to do about it?

Posted by: Tim Parsons