Proverbs 31: The Lady I’d Like to Be

march-small

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. ~ Proverbs 31:26

It’s hard to believe that the month of March is over, and so is our “March” through Proverbs. It’s kind of bittersweet. It feels good to have read through a book of the Bible, doesn’t it? But I’m kind of sad that our journey together has come to an end. The good news is that we can just flip back a few pages tomorrow, on April first, and begin again! For me, one time through Proverbs (or one hundred times) just isn’t enough. Please feel free to share with me through this blog, my email, or any one of the 5,000 other social media outlets, a blessing that you receive from Proverbs. My online door is always open, so please come by.

Many of these posts have been about words, so I thought it would be fitting to end on one about words. I love Proverbs 31! This chapter convicts me every time I read it. There is so much here, that it was hard to select just one verse to write about. I think for me, today’s verse was it. If I could open my mouth with wisdom, if I could use kindness in all of my words, I would be a better person. But it’s not just my words that need more kindness, my whole demeanor could use it. I catch myself frowning a lot, and scowling at my children. I don’t want to be that way. I know there is a time for firmness, but it isn’t all the time.  I want to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. It’s a constant battle! I have much growing to do, and the job certainly is daunting.  I’m so thankful to have a loving, patient Heavenly Father to forgive me when I fail, and guide me as I grow. This chapter is what I’m aiming for in my life. This is the lady I want to be.

Thank you, again, for joining me. May your life be filled to overflowing with blessings from God’s Word!

With love,

sig

Proverbs 30: Pure Words and Protective Watchcare

march-small

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. ~ Proverbs 30:5

How precious are God’s Words! I recently read about a Chinese Christian who prayed for a Bible. He prayed for many months before finally receiving a copy. It was delivered at night so that the couriers would be less likely to be arrested by the Communist government for simply having a Bible. I’m sorry to say that I don’t value God’s Words the way I ought to. I often take for granted the privilege of owning my own copy – in fact, many copies! – of God’s Holy Word.

This verse also says that those who put their trust in Him have the greatest protector of all. Better than a Glock, better than the newest high-tech security system, better than a hundred armed guards  is the Lord! Nothing goes without His notice. Not one of His children can escape His watchful care.

God’s Words are pure, His arm is strong, and His grip never loosens.

Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.  –  Psalm 113:2

sig

Proverbs 29: The Foolish and the Wise

march-small

A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards. ~ Proverbs 29:11

As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3:7 there is “…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;” It is up to us to discern when to speak and when to keep silence. I’ve often told my husband, after some unpleasant situation, that “I wanted to give her a piece of my mind!” Of course, his jocular response is, “Don’t do that. It’s your last piece!” But how often have I vented my thoughts or opinions on someone, only to regret it soon thereafter? Too often to admit!

There are times we must boldly proclaim the truth. But we must be careful that it is the truth we are speaking. It seems to me that discernment is the need of the hour. I want to be sensitive to know when to share my thoughts, and when to keep it till another time. A few questions we can use to guide us might be these:

  1. Is what I’m about to share helpful to this situation?
  2. Is this information from God’s Word, or just my own opinion?
  3. Do I have a perspective from personal experience that can help this situation?
  4. Would this information be well received now?
  5. Does this person need to hear the Gospel?

The answers to these questions can help eliminate unnecessary talk. If the person is angry, they  may not receive any words very well, even helpful ones. If you have no experience with what is being discussed, then how can you help? If the person needs to hear the Gospel, then we should boldly share it. If we see that we have nothing of value to add, we can always excuse ourselves by offering to pray for the person, and then actually praying for them.

Only a fool stands around and gives his ideas on a matter about which he knows nothing; the wise man waits, considers and prays before sharing his thoughts. I pray the Lord will help me to be wise.

sig

Proverbs 28: Do Right

 march-small

To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress. – Proverbs 28:21

To “have respect of persons” means to favor someone more than everyone else. When I read this verse, my first thought was about politics. Politics is messy because of this verse. There are too many politicians who will “transgress” because he wants favor with a big-wig. (That’s what we Arkansans call rich people.) This leads to poor decision making on the part of the politician. Instead of being led by Scripture, or even good-ol’ common sense, he is only thinking about the interests of the one person who can make him successful.

On greater inspection, I see that this verse can apply to more than just politicians. It applies to all of us. Will we “respect” someone at work so much that we lie or cheat for them? It could happen. What about our children? Will they become so important to us, that  we overlook serious character flaws which should be addressed? What about at church? James admonishes us not to have respect for the wealthy church members over the poor ones. (James 2:3)

I remember that this situation presented itself to us at one of the churches my husband pastored. A man offered to give us a car. We declined because it seemed so extravagant. Later, this man purchased three suits and a winter coat for my husband. We gratefully accepted these gifts, thinking nothing about it…until a few weeks passed. We soon found out that there were strings attached to the gifts. My husband did not bend to the wishes of this man, and the gifts stopped.  We saw clearly that there were some in the church who wanted to cause us to “transgress”.

In every area of life, we must strive to make decisions based on God’s Word alone. It can be tempting to please man; to care about the thoughts and opinions of man, but that is the wrong path. Let’s remember the words of Bob Jones, Sr., which I learned as a chorus when I was just a teenager:

Do right, till the stars fall, do right, till the last call.

Do right, when there’s no one else to stand by you.

Do right, when you’re all alone; do right, though it’s never known.

Do right, since you love the Lord. Do right! Do right!

sig

Proverbs 27: My Filthy Rags

march-small

Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. ~ Proverbs 27:2

In a world where social media is king, this verse is becoming harder and harder to heed. It’s so easy to get online and proclaim our accomplishments, post photos of ourselves with celebrities, or with awards. It’s so easy to boast and brag about all that we have done.

Praise from the mouth of another is comely and appropriate. Praise of ourselves by ourselves, isn’t. We have all known someone who bragged on themselves or who sought out  praise from others. I’m fairly certain we have also been guilty of these charges ourselves. But even if we have kept silent about our perceived goodness, we have thought it about ourselves. “I look great tonight!” or “No one could have done this the way I just did it!” These thoughts are the beginning of self-praising words. These thoughts are just as prideful as the spoken words would be.

Many of my posts in this series have been about words, because that is my weakness. This one is no different. How often have I, without thinking, naturally slid into praising myself while talking to someone!

The only solution to this dilemma is to humble myself before God and seek His forgiveness. I must remember that without Christ , I am nothing! I would be bound for Hell were it not for Him! Even now, my righteousness is as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) Now there’s a Facebook status: “Just want everyone to know – all that I have done is but filthy rags.” At least that would be a true statement. I want to recall often the words of John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30. May it be so, Lord, in me.

sig

Proverbs 26: Joker, Beware

march-small

As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death,  So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport? ~ Proverbs 26:18-19

I love to laugh. I love hearing funny stories and sharing them. But this passage reminded me today that you can have too much of a good thing. While I love laughing, I do not enjoy a joke which is at the expense of another. Practical jokes or jokes which humiliate someone, is what this passage is about. I quote Charles Bridges’ wise words:

“How little does the thoughtless man consider the misery, which his wantonness occasions to others! He bears no  malice. He indulges on the pure love of mischief. He carries on a scheme of imposition as harmless play. His companions compliment him upon his adroitness, and join in the laugh of triumph over the victim of his cruel jest. What the man calls ‘sport’ is the ‘madman’, scattering murderous mischief – firebrands, arrows and death. What are smoothly called ‘practical jokes’. . . come under this awful charge.”

When we purposely deceive someone in order to tell a joke, does this remove our deception? No, it just makes the deception look cute. It seems excusable because it puts a smile on a few faces, but what about the one who has been deceived? Could their smile be forced? Could their smile be a way to hide the hurt and embarrassment they are feeling? It is likely.

Let the joker beware: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. – Galatians 6:7

sig

Proverbs 25: A Broken Wall and a Lasting Legacy

march-small

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. ~ Proverbs 25:28

What a picture this verse gives us – a city broken down, without walls. That city is highly vulnerable! Any beggar can pilfer the remains. Vandals can destroy and loot the property. Enemies are given freedom to come in and do as much harm as they desire. Charles Bridges says, “He that hath no rule over his spirit is an easy prey to the invader. Anyone may irritate and torment him.”

My dad struggled with a bad temper before he was saved. He struggled with it after he was born again, too. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt us from sin – though I wish it did! I remember that he quoted this verse  and told us he was working on controlling his temper. The image of this weakened city resonated with him, and he didn’t want to be that way. I am happy to say that God gave him victory in this area before his death. Dad wasn’t perfect –  he could still get riled up on a bad day – but he didn’t stay that way. He worked to correct the error and not to make it again.

The only way to fortify ourselves is to build up walls of prayer around us. Prayer – the great work of the Christian life! It is so easy to say “I’ll pray,” and so hard to follow through – for me, anyway. Christ said in the model prayer “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. (Matthew 6:13) That should be our prayer as well. We do not want to be led astray by anger or lust, thereby committing murder or adultery. We want to live holy lives that glorify the Lord. This can only be done with Christ’s help, and that can only come through prayer and Bible reading.

Today just happens to be my birthday. It was a blessing to be reminded today of all days, that my dad is still speaking to me. No, not through the Bible, my Heavenly Father does that. My dad speaks through his legacy. He speaks through the life he lived in front of me every day as he tried to be pliable in the Potter’s hands. In a way, I do see my dad through Scripture – because that was where he sought guidance. He never said, “Read your Bible, Valerie!” He said, “Look what I read in the Bible, Valerie.”  He showed me each day that his struggles were real, but not insurmountable. His faith was small, but God’s grace was abundant. His life pointed to Jesus – the Author and Finisher of his faith.

As long as I have a Bible, I can hear my parents’ voices through its pages. I find reminders of them all throughout God’s Word  saying to me,  “This passage helped us to keep going, it will help you, too!”

And in my darkest moments, or when I stumble and fall, I imagine that my dad is standing on the shores of Heaven, cheering me on.  He says, “Get up! You can do it! Keep running! It is worth it all!”

With love,

sig