#DailyDevotion How Will You Use Your Mouth Today?
Read Prov 25:1–22
Pro 25:9-15 ESV Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret, (10) lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end. (11) A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. (12) Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. (13) Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters. (14) Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give. (15) With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.
When Jesus tells us in Matt. 18 that if we see a brother sin go and show him his sin in private, he wasn’t saying anything new. This had been known for at least 800 years before Jesus uttered those words. But few actually ever practice it. We prefer like the news today to judge a man/woman in the court of public opinion instead. We’ll talk about the problem on the phone. We’ll twitter or facebook about it for the whole world to see, but rarely will be go and talk to the person in private to bring about reconciliation.
Paul even teaches us that if we can bear it, put up with the brother, forgive and forget. That is, we don’t even bring it up but act as if it never happened. But few are able to do this without resentment.
So you can fit golden apples in settings of silver or spread horse manure. You can be like a gold ring or an ornament of gold or like vomit. It’s your choice. How are you going to use your words today? You can refresh the souls around you or be a nag. You could persuade rulers with patience and break bones with a soft tongue, i.e. bring people to repentance and faith.
We must remember how did God reprove us? In what manner has Jesus brought our faults to us and to our attention? How did he forgive us when we sinned against him by sinning against our neighbor? We too must reprove sin if we think it will lead them away from Christ Jesus and must speak the sweet words of forgiveness. When a sin is against us personally, we must sacrifice our right to vengeance and pour out grace upon our enemy even as our Lord Jesus Christ died for us without us even asking him to do it. Giving up our right to vengeance, to gossip, slander and the like is living in the life of Christ Jesus.
Lord Jesus Christ, grant us your life that we may forgive and forget or at the very least keep things private between ourselves and the people who sin against us. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Don’t Be Envious Of The Wicked. You Know Their End.
Read Prov 24:1–22
Pro 24:1-6 ESV Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, (2) for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble. (3) By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; (4) by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (5) A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, (6) for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
David in the Psalms writes about this. He says: Psa 73:2-19 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. (3) For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (4) For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. (5) They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. (6) Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. (7) Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. (8) They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. (9) They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. (10) Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. (11) And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” (12) Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. (13) All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. (14) For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. (15) If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. (16) But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, (17) until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. (18) Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. (19) How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!
Are you jealous of your neighbor getting away with their affairs? Are you envious of those who you work with who seem to be getting ahead by stabbing others in the back? Do you desire to engage in the works of the sexually immoral, the drunkards and drug users because it looks like they’re having a good time and seem to be getting away with it? Well don’t. They are standing on slippery places and they will soon fall to ruin. They will be destroyed in a moment and swept away with terrors.
The thinking that makes us envious shows we are not trusting God to take care of us. We need the support of otherwise people to strengthen and support us. And that’s why we go to Church. We gather with others like us who desire to fear, love and trust in God above all things. Through their words of wisdom and encouragement we are reminded of all that Jesus has done for us, is doing for us and is going to do for us. Through the readings of Scripture lessons, the sermon, the service, bible study we can wage war and in the abundance of their counsel we can have victory over sin, death and the power of the devil.
Lord Jesus Christ, set our hearts aright that we might not be envious of wickedness but rather surround us with good counsel that we might know and walk in your ways and gain the victory. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Watch Yourself When Invited To Dinner
Pro 23:1-3 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, (2) and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. (3) Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.
Pro 23:6 Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies,
Pro 23:7 for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
These two sets of proverbs seem to go together in this chapter. They speak about dining with other. The first is a ruler the second is a man who is stingy.
With the ruler, when you dine with him he is seeing what kind of man you are. Are you a glutton who devours everything set before you with gusto? Do you pick and choose carefully what you are going to eat and eat with discernment and restraint? Are you wasteful? Do you care about your fellows who sit with you? Do you make sure they get what they need?
What you do at the dinner table can demonstrate a lot about your character and what you do at your work and how you go about your work. If you are dining with someone greater than you he very well may be sizing you up as a person, so be the person you would want the ruler to see.
As to the stingy man his heart is not with you. He has no desire to give you good things. If you devour your meal he will only built up a resentment towards you and work against you in everything if you do not eat in accord with his temperament.
Pro 22:29 Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.
Pro 23:4 Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.
These two verses also go together. While the Lord wants us to toil to receive our daily bread, he does not desire that our hearts be set on wealth. Wealth is fleeting and the love of it destroys the love of God in men. You cannot love the Lord and wealth. Better set in your mind to be the best you can be at what you do and apply yourself to it. If you do, you will be known by great men of wealth and always have what you need. They will bring their wealth to you for your skills and work. If the Lord desires to make you wealthy through your skill and hard work so be it. If not continue to set your heart on the Lord.
Heavenly Father, give us hearts for instruction and ears given to words of knowledge that we may apply ourselves to them that we may live in the joy of your salvation and life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion How You Treat The Poor Is How You Treat The Lord
Pro 22:2 The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the maker of them all…9 Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor…13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!”
Pro 22:16 Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty…17 Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, (18) for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips.
In today’s chapter there are a number of lessons concerning the poor. It is important that we pay attention to them because the poor are a class of people who are the apple of God’s eye. These are not about special government programs but what do you do when you see the poor. How do you interact with them? How you treat them is how you treat the Lord.
So we note first that the graved is the great equalizer. Rich and poor alike meet the Lord in death. Both are answerable as to how they lived their lives. The Lord has made one man rich and another man poor. What have they done in their peculiar circumstances?
The Lord desires the rich to have a bountiful eye. He will be blessed. The bountiful eye sees the potential in everything. He sees how may profit from what he experiences around him. Because he sees what is around him he opens his hands to the poor. He does not oppress the poor but attempts to bring the poor out of poverty. His hand is generous to give to them because he knows what he has, he has from the bounty of the Lord. So the Lord blesses him all the more because the rich man’s gifts to the poor are gifts to the Lord himself.
Does the poor man act as a sluggard? Does he use his poverty to be lazy and not work and attempt to be productive? He is answerable to the Lord for his actions or lack of them.
Those who use their riches to oppress the poor instead of helping them will eventually come to ruin. Their actions are not just against helpless individuals, but they are oppressing the Lord. They may have their profits for today by taking advantage of those less fortunate, but what will their reward be before the Lord? Eternal perdition is their lot.
So listen to the wise saying here and implant them on your heart so as the occasion arises you may act wisely and live pleasantly.
Heavenly Father, you have been rich towards us in Christ Jesus in grace and salvation. Grant us to have open hands to those who are poor materially and if we find ourselves poor give us courage to work and earn our daily bread with thanksgiving. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion The Lord Doesn’t Mind Talking About Business
Pro 20:10 Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the LORD. Pro 20:23 Unequal weights are an abomination to the LORD, and false scales are not good.
Religion, politics and business are not talked about in polite society. God is not polite society. He talks about them all. We’ll talk about business today. It is amazing that corruption is so thorough in business today that it has been accepted and normalized. How will they cheat you next? When’s the last time you bought a 2×4 that was 2” x 4”? If you don’t know the industry standard of cheating how can you begin to build anything. Luckily for us, builders and carpenters know and it’s fairly standard.
But what does the Lord say? Unequal weights and unequal measure are an abomination to him. False scales are not good. But we need not get too literal with this. We can go beyond weights, measures and scales. When we sell something are we honest with the other person as to what you are selling them. Have you disclosed what defects you know about? Christian businessmen should not sell things caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). What we sell should be reliable or at least the buyer should know what they are getting. Not doing so angers your Lord.
(14) “Bad, bad,” says the buyer, but when he goes away, then he boasts.
But it’s not just sellers! It’s buyers too! Do you buy things at a fair price? Do you take advantage of sellers who don’t know better at garage sales or thrift markets? You have an obligation from the Lord to buy at a fair price as well. If the owner knows the value but he wants to sell it to you cheaply anyway that’s fine. But you should find out before assuming he does. It is the Christian thing to do. The Lord does not deal so cheaply with your salvation.
Pro 20:13 Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.
Finally we as Christians have a duty to work for our daily bread. It’s one thing to pray for daily bread but if you do not lift up your hands to work, you cannot complain the Lord is not taking care of you. Start your own business or work for someone else and put in a fair day’s work and the Lord will bless the work of your hands. And do not work just for your own mouth, but work so you may have something to provide for someone else who is lacking. This is pleasing to the Lord. For once you were poor in salvation and the Lord Jesus Christ worked to his death to give you the earning of eternal life.
Heavenly Father, as we go about the business of our day, may we work to the glory of your Son Jesus Christ and to the glory of your name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion What Are You Doing With Your Tongue?
Pro 17:4-5 An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue. (5) Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
You know you’re just as much to blame for gossip if you listen to it. God calls you an evildoer here. Not only that, he says you are liar as well when you listen to a mischievous tongue. For the Lord can look into your heart and see your intentions better than you can at times. If someone starts speaking evil of others, you need to shut them down quick and remind them what the Lord of Hosts says of such things. You might even exclaim, “Mouth of the serpent!” You probably won’t hear gossip from such people ever again. Another fine note in these verses is who we treat the poor and those that encounter misfortune. To mock such people and to be glad at others calamities is to insult the Maker of those who made them. You are insulting God! Instead we are to see how we can help such people.
Pro 17:9-10 Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. (10) A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.
He speaks again to how we use our tongues. Will we use it to cover the sins of others and put the best construction on people’s actions or will we repeat matters to others. People will love you when they find out you defended them in front of others and you will be honored if you can keep a secret. Yet if you hear evil about you, if someone rebukes you how will you handle it? Will you examine yourself to see if it is true and if so, will you let it sink into your depths so that you make a change? Or will you ignore it like the fool who gains no understanding about himself even if he is beaten?
Pro 17:14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
Starting a fight is like letting a cat out of bag. Good luck restraining it! It may start with a small thing but people’s feelings are hurt quickly, fear escalates and it’s hard to restrain. The good advice here you probably heard from your mother—if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
Pro 17:27-28 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. (28) Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
Sometimes, most of the time, we talk too much. Perhaps we type too much as well. Demonstrate your knowledge and wisdom by learning to have restraint. Why even if you are a fool, if you don’t say anything people might think you are intelligent.
Heavenly Father, you give us the gift of language. Help us to use this gift to be a blessing to others and not as wicked people. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Have You Told The Lord Your Plans? Did He Laugh?
Pro 16:1-4 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. (2) All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. (3) Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. (4) The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Pro 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
We have a proverb ourselves. Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans. In many of the passages from this chapter of proverbs deal with man’s plans and God’s providence. Indeed we may make all sorts of plans. We devise numerous ways of dealing with life today and what we think about doing tomorrow. But where is the Lord in all our planning? Verse two is particularly poignant because we think all of our ways are pure. Well they are in our eyes. Rarely do we do and plan what we think is wrong. We think even our most wicked plans are justified, good and right. But the Lord weighs our spirit and knows our hearts, our intentions. What will he find when he looks into our plans?
Before making plans and before putting them into action, we should commit our work to the Lord. Begin your plans with meditation upon God’s Word. What does it say about what you plan to do? Ask the Lord for guidance in whatever your task it. Nothing is too big, small or in between. You are not bothering him when you come to him in faith and trust. When your work is committed to the Lord in all its ways, he promises your plans will be established.
Everything in God’s creation has a purpose. He has a plan for everything. The Lord even uses the wicked to bring days of trouble for other wicked and for his purposes. Indeed, he used the wicked to accomplish our salvation. The Jews who rejected Jesus and the
Roman soldiers who crucified him were part of God’s plan in redeeming you from death and to make atonement for your sins and for theirs.
We should keep in mind these two other verses not included in the reading: Pro 16:25 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Pro 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” The first is related to Jesus’ teaching that out of the heart comes every evil and broad is the way to destruction. It seems right to us to do things but we can be deceived so we should compare it to what God’s Word says otherwise it may bring eternal death. The second is that since every decision is from the Lord we should humble ourselves under his hand that we be used for good. For every decision from the Lord is for the benefit of those who trust in him even if it doesn’t seem so at the moment. All things work for good for those who love God who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8) May his will be for your good in Christ.
Heavenly Father, grant that by your grace we commit our ways to you and your Word that everything we plan and do may have your blessing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.