Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Chapter a Day - Proverbs 31

We are at the finish line; this is the last day of the month and, therefore, the last chapter in the book of Proverbs.

As they told me when I completed the Carlsbad Half Marathon - "look ahead, you can see the finish line; be sure to smile as you cross the finish line.” So let's compose ourselves, one last time and smile as we finish by reading Proverbs 31.

Gems

There are two women noted in this chapter - one we've heard about - the virtuous woman; and the other one is hardly mentioned - Lemuel's mother. It is not certain who King Lemuel was, but his mother was clearly a wise woman who gave her son sage advice. As a King, someone in a position of authority, he took his mother's advice to heart.

Lemuel's Mother
The first nine verses include a poem that Lemuel's mother taught him which contains some good advice:
Do not give yourself to carnal pleasures - women and alcohol
Avoid flatterers and tempters
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves
Defend the rights of the poor and the forgotten
Judge fairly
She encouraged him to be a righteous leader, one who is discerning, fair, and smart in his associations. Throughout Proverbs, we have seen the benefits of being a righteous leader.

The Virtuous Woman
I have had a love/hate relationship with the woman described in verses 10-31 commonly called the virtuous woman. Initially, I thought it was an unrealistic standard to which I could never measure up. I also mistakenly felt that it was used to keep women in their place. Then I rediscovered it and realized that she is quite a well-rounded woman and it is something I aspire to. (This is why it's important to know the Word for yourself). Did you know that the target audience for this chapter is men, not women? In the Jewish culture, men memorize this passage and sing it as a song of praise to the women in their lives. (Now, I could get used to that (smile!)).

The virtuous woman is about her character, not her role. The virtuous woman is hard working, has her family's best interest at heart, does what she needs to do so that they have what they need, is creative, an entrepreneur, dresses well, takes care of herself (she girds her loins with strength and strengthens her arms (v 17)), is perceptive, and compassionate. She speaks wise words and is not idle. Because of who she is and what she does, her husband is respected. She is more than a wife, she is the total package; she is a woman of bravery, wisdom, and strength.

But this woman does not reap all the rewards immediately - strength and honor are her clothing and she shall rejoice in time to come (v25). Being this kind of woman is hard - sometimes you're tired (bone weary tired) and you want to snap; sometimes you may even feel unappreciated. But keeping what is important in mind, you press on. There comes a time when her children rise up and call her blessed and her husband praises her (v28-29). It takes time to become this virtuous woman.

The virtuous woman is a personification of wisdom, which we have seen throughout this entire book. It is yet another display of how wisdom is intertwined in our daily lives. It is nothing to be afraid of, though, because if we are seeking God, he will give us the wisdom and the courage to know how to handle anything. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

How fitting that the book of Proverbs should end on such a high note for women.

I’ve enjoyed doing this challenge; I hope you have too. In a couple of days, I’ll provide my overall reflections.

You did it!


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 30

This chapter is written by Agur, a man who we have never heard of and is only mentioned in this chapter of the Bibe. Agur thinks very little of himself (v2-3), yet sees the evidence of God's hand in nature and teaches with riddles. Agur seems to have a way with numbers - they allow him to attempt to group common thoughts together. The Bible, in general, is for our edification; in Agur, we see that he was a wise man for understanding and acknowledging the vastness of God.

Let's look at some of these gems found in Proverbs 30.

Gems

Agur wants two things from God before death (v7-8):
1. Take a way vanity and lies – He didn’t want anything that gave him a proud heart. Pride is detrimental and goes before a fall.
2. Give me neither poverty or riches - Agur wisely prayed for a median state - a state that would provide him with what he needed, no more, no less, that he might be kept at a distance from temptations.

Four things which are never satisfied (v 16):
1. The grave - death is inevitable, and it seems we die faster than there are places to bury us.
2. The barren womb - a woman unable to bear children wants to have them; craves them.
3. Land, which is never satisfied with water - dry land needs lots of water. When I first moved to California, all the hills and mountains were brown - they were dry and parched. It hadn't rained in months and the first time it rained, it was not enough.
4. Fire, which never says, ‘Enough! - fire burns everything in its path rapidly. Because those hills were dry, there was an increased risk for wildfires. These fires raged and lasted for days; lots of land was destroyed.

Four things that are too wonderful for me (v 18-19):
1. the way of an eagle in the sky
2. the way of a snake on a rock
3. the way of a ship on the high seas
4. the way of a man with a young woman
These things are marvelous to behold. They speak of the majesty and the knowledge of God. We may not be nature lovers, but I'm sure we've seen someone in love - not TV love but real love. As an observer it's hard to understand, but because love is making both parties happy it's beautiful to watch. This same phenomenon applies to the eagle, the snake and the ship.

Under four things the earth trembles (v21-23):
1. a servant who becomes king,
2. a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,
3. a contemptible woman who gets married,
4. a servant who displaces her mistress.
The common element here is that all of these things are intolerable and seem out of place. The instances above show examples of position and role misused because they fall to those who have no training for them, and are therefore in the wrong place. A contemptible woman is one who is bitter because of her lack of love; her dissatisfaction with life; her envy; or her choices. The poor husband who marries her has to deal with this mindset until she recognizes she is loved and there's no need to be contemptible or odious anymore.

Four things which are little but are exceedingly wise (24-28):
1. ants - not strong but they prepare their meat in the summer.
2. conies - very feeble but make their houses in rocks. The rocks protect them. Are also known as rock badgers or hyrax.
3. locusts - have no king, yet they go forth in groups
4. spiders - can be caught with the hand but lives in king's palaces.
This group confounds human wisdom, but we can learn from them in particular how to work together and how to protect ourselves.

Four things that move with stately bearing (v 29-31):
1. A lion
2. A greyhound (some translations say a horse)
3. A he-goat
4. A king secure against revolt.
These are all very beautiful to look at as they move as they display confidence. A king secure against revolt has confidence in his knowledge, his plans and those around him. Confidence is beautiful to see.

Some of these sayings are really deep. Have you ever thought about some of them? Can you see a spiritual application in all of them? For me, I simply acknowledge that God knew what he was doing when he created everything, even though I don't understand everything. I may sometimes feel like Agur, but like Agur, I know that every word of God is pure; he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him (v5).

Read on.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 29


Proverbs 29
I inadvertently ruined yet another piece of clothing with bleach this morning. I had a choice in my response - lash out at anyone in my path or learn from this experience (stop wearing things I like when using bleach, or stop using bleach). I decided to learn from this experience by not getting angry and doing things differently in the future. I say this to say, that I too am constantly re-learning and applying the wisdom found in Proverbs.

This relearning happens when you run a long race also. Near the end, you're thinking of all the training you've received and if anything at this point, that you have not tried, will assist you in getting to the finish line. So you may start pumping your arms more, or become more conscious of your posture and your gait. The goal is to finish strong, so you're looking at all the ways to do so. But then you have to get out of your head and keep running.

Gems

When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan. The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern (v2, 7). We talked about this extensively yesterday. It seems to be a point worth reiterating because we seem to be easily confused by the merits of righteousness vs. wickedness. Simply put righteous character is always the way to go. The impact is greater when you are in a position of authority.

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end (v11). Fools do not exhibit self-control as a matter of fact they may gloat in the fact that they are easily angered and do not exhibit discernment in its display. We are all prone to anger, and we've all been around people who vent their rage often;  it's like walking on eggshells; it's a storm waiting to erupt. A wise person knows how to handle their anger effectively and how to ultimately bring calm and resolution.

A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother. Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire (v15, 17). Unruly children become unruly adults. If for no other reason, this is the reason to discipline your children. If you won't discipline them as children, laws and society will discipline them as adults. Even though our children grow up to be adults and make their own decisions, it's always a reflection on their parents.

Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them (v 20). An old Jamaican woman I know loves to say, "Tek time." It means to take time, and it means to approach any situation with care. Think before you speak and act.

The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies; they are put under oath and dare not testify (v 24). This brings to mind the old adage - I'll show you who you are by the company you keep. To knowingly join a shady character in their dealing is a huge red flag. You can't cover for a thief and remain innocent. You can't plead ignorance if you knowingly chose to be an accomplice of a thief. Once more we are reminded of the consequences of not choosing our friends and acquaintances wisely.

Read on.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 28

Proverbs 28 continues with its observations of human behaviors delineated by wise vs. foolish. As I dig deeper in this book, I realize that there is nothing in human nature that God is not aware of or surprised by. Each chapter points out character flaws or virtues which are divided into two camps - wise or foolish. Some things in life are black or white with no gray area. There should be no gray areas in your character. If you are unsure, seek wisdom, search the scriptures, talk to God until you end up on the right side.

Today I'll leave you with a couple of gems from this chapter.

Gems

The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion (v1). This verse speaks of having a guilty conscience. A guilty conscience will give you no rest - you're unsettled in your actions; there's a constant expectation of dread. But when you have a conscience that gives you peace because you know that you have done the right thing, there's nothing to hide and you are bold as a lion.

To show partiality is not good— yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread (v21). The KJV says to have respect of persons is not good; for a piece of bread that man will transgress. Treat all people fairly, in the same way, you wish to be treated. Don't treat some men better than others simply because of their status, class, race or whatever you determine to be better in your mind. When you show favoritism, this mindset will allow you to do things you normally would not do, and the reward is not usually in line with the status of the individual. I employ the golden rule in determining how I treat people. The golden rule which is found in the New Testament in Matthew 7:12 says, “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.” (BTW I do not believe the platinum rule trumps the golden rule). It’s a beautiful thing to see this rule play out in your life; people looking on wonder why you have the ability to talk and interact with the CEO, VP, or any other position of high stature. Many books have been written about interacting with different people, but it’s not the title you’re interacting with it’s the person. Also, think about how you feel when the golden rule is not applied to you; you feel less than a person, slighted because of some status. It’s not a good feeling. If this happens to you often enough, you learn to treat people with the basic respect we all deserve. Don't show favoritism, treat the rich and the poor the same (v3,6,27). If a person has a need that you can meet, meet the need.

When the wicked rise, men hide themselves but when they perish the righteous increase (v28). Many people are saying if a certain person wins the Presidential election that they're moving to another country. This is the equivalent to the righteous hiding because the wicked are in power. When wicked people are in charge there is a fear and a real danger in the land. When we look back in history a wicked ruler's reign was marked by fear because of what they did and could do from their position of authority; many hid or fled. The elevation of the wicked drives people to seek refuge from tyranny. On the contrary, quite simply, when the righteous are in charge, everybody wins. The sentiment in this verse is echoed in verses 2 and 12.

Read on.

Feel free to share other gems from this chapter; I love your comments.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 27

I hope you too are feeling good about participating in this challenge, and benefitting in more ways than I can imagine.

We're almost done. To use the running analogy - let's finish strong!

Proverbs 27

Gems
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring (v 1). We have enough for today; while looking ahead is good, we’re not promised tomorrow. Let’s make an impact today.

Open rebuke is better than secret love; faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (v 5-6). Sometimes, as a loving friend, we may need to correct, reprove, or provide constructive criticism. Or we may be the recipient of this correction. Friendships are sometimes tricky and it is situations such as these that may test a friendship. If you know the motive of your friend's heart, if you know your friend's character and integrity, if you know your friend loves you, then it's much better to receive the correction. A friend who has your best interest at heart will not only tell you what you want to hear but what you need to hear. I like friends like that. Someone who only says what you want to hear may not be your friend at all. Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice (v9).

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (v 17). Surround yourself with wise people so that there is mutual learning. This sharpening may be a hard, tough process. Think of two knife blades rubbing against each other - initially the sound is grating. Over time ,it becomes smoother. So you may have intense debates with others - but again think of the heart, the motive - so that you both can learn from each other. This is another favorite verse of mine.

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart (v 19). What does our heart say about our lives? What are our priorities? What drives and motivates you? What are your values? When you look into a pool of water you can see your reflection, so the heart is our reflection of our lives. There is great value in being willing to be self-aware. The more we are willing to examine our lives, the more we will be willing to allow God to work in us.

Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes (v 20). The fires of hell are thought to be unquenchable, so also our desires. The more we have, the more we need. The more we get, the more we want. In addition, more (things, people, dreams, friends) brings more responsibility. It is part of the human condition that affects us all. We won't master this until we get to heaven, but we can learn to be content with what we have. Being content strikes a balance - between not caring and always being driven. God can help us to achieve this balance.

Read on.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 26

Do you remember learning about similes in grade school? A simile is a figure of speech in which two fundamentally unlike things are explicitly compared, usually in a phrase introduced by like or as.

Proverbs 26 strikes a different a tone and uses similes to get its point across. What you learn from the book of Proverbs in addition to all the wisdom gained is that there are many ways to emphasize a point.

Gems
This chapter really breaks down the actions of a fool.
Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool (v1,8). Let's go back to the definition of a fool.  When a fool receives honor, it seems unnatural; the fool becomes more conceited as he doesn't know how to accept praise.

Here are two verses that don't fit the simile model and on initial reading seem to contradict each other - Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes (4-5). The point is to know when to respond to a fool - and there are times to respond. Being in the company of a foolish person who is spouting nonsense is interesting - to say the least. If they're speaking of ideas, that just make no sense and you've tried getting through before - answer not a fool. If they're taking a fact and making it fiction - answer a fool (the facts back you up). I think if you can refute a fool based on solid principles, facts, God's word - then provide an answer or a question for him to think about, if not leave him to his folly.

As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly (v11). Fools go back to their vices - they continue to repeat what is not good for them. The thought of a dog returning to his own vomit turns my stomach; it is the same effect when we see someone continually doing something foolish.

As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed (v14). The door moves back and forth, but it's not going anywhere. So is a lazy person, who just turns back and forth but does not get up to accomplish anything. He has to do something different!

Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel, not their own (v 17, 20, 21). Grabbing a dog by the ears is begging for trouble, so is someone who is quick to create arguments that have nothing to do with him.

Do you know people who overuse the phrase, "Just Kidding?" Here are two verses that talk about this phrase - Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” (v 18-19). Our deceptions can be deadly; we can't just wish it away with "just kidding". There is a time and place for laughter and jokes, but when it becomes a habit that's hurtful we need to rethink our actions. In line with this keep in mind that a lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin (v 28). One that gets into the habit of lying whether it is twisting the truth or false flattery does not have your best interests at heart. We really need to watch what we say.

Fools are lazy, slothful, arrogant, conceited, create strife, deceitful, and wicked. If we exhibit these traits, by the grace of God, we can be changed.

Read on.

Friday, March 25, 2016

They Killed My God on a Friday

Source
Every year, without fail my husband gets very reflective on Good Friday. Somehow the school the Little One attends scheduled parent-teacher conferences today. He said he's not going as, "They killed my God on a Friday," and he does nothing on this day but reflect on the significance of this day. This day is sacred to him.

One of the benefits of marriage is you get to see your partner live out their beliefs. The day is called good, but on this day what Jesus went through in terms of suffering was anything but good. But he hung on a cross for our good. He was sacrificed for us, for our sins.  His death made us perfect.

Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday, on which the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is commemorated in the Christian Church. It is traditionally a day of fasting and penance. (source: Wikipedia)
The Good on Friday is equivalent to the suffering we go through in this life that brings us to a Better. Is there good in suffering? Not in the act itself but being able to withstand and grow through suffering is good. To die and to be resurrected is the ultimate good.  Jesus did that.

I'm glad my husband gets reflective every year on this day because it reminds me to also slow down. I'm glad his faith is so personal and yet so real. I'm glad that we're married to each other.

They killed My God on a Friday...but thank God He Rose!!!

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:50-54[NLT]

Today was for our good.  How do you observe Good Friday?


A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 25

Do you remember why we started this challenge? In case you need a refresher, here's why. I wanted to challenge myself, as well as you dear reader to read the Bible daily. One of the best places to start is the book of Proverbs. With thirty-one (31) chapters - one chapter for each day of the month - this book is the perfect addition to any daily reading. Proverbs talks about every imaginable basic aspect of life - love, parenting, money, sex, God, relationships. It instructs on business, public policy, government, and family. It’s the best counsel in the whole world and it's free! (Luis Palau, Changed by Faith, 2011)
With less than a week remaining, let's use discipline to carry us through. The finish line is in sight, and the folks on the sideline are cheering you on.

Proverbs 25

Gems

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter (v 2). To conceal - means to hide to cover. It is God's glory to cover our sins - He did this by dying for us. As humans, when an injustice is hidden, it is an honor for someone in authority to discover it and then treat it appropriately. It is an honor to right a wrong, but as a leader when a wrong is righted it will have a greater impact.
This verse also seems to have spiritual application - in that God has revelations available for us, but we as his children have to be ready to receive it. The Glory of kings (Christians) is in searching out the Glory of God.

We are again counseled to watch our speech. In our relationships with our neighbors, we should not be a talebearer (v9, 10), because as mentioned before, a talebearer cannot be trusted.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (v11). The first time I saw this image, it was in a painting in the Prayer Room of my old church. I was not aware of this verse at the time, but every time I looked at that picture these words came to mind: perfect, peaceful, calming, and beautiful. And then I finally discovered this verse and it all made sense. Are your words fitly spoken? Fitly - the right time and the right place to express a thought in the right way, so that it ministers and heals.

Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith and vomit it (v16). Too much of anything is bad for you. Though honey is good, too much of it will make you sick. In the case of neighbors, don't overstay your welcome and live peacefully with your neighbors (v17, 27). Another comparison to an excess of honey is to not seek out praise. Don't be so full of self that you always expect praise, for then you are conceited.

Have you ever heard the expression "Heap coals of fire upon their heads?” The verse reads - If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you (v 21, 22). These verses do not actually refer to causing the person's head to burn literally, but it refers to them being so taken aback by your kindness toward them because they know they have not treated you properly. This phrase is a metaphor taken from smelting metallic ores. It's what we refer to as "taking the high road,” or "not stooping to another person's level", even though sometimes it would be much easier to be on equal footing with them. I think the visual image of this makes sense in difficult times also because hopefully you're not causing them to burn, but you're hoping your actions melt them into kindness. As to when their behavior will change toward you; we're not responsible for that. However, we need to ensure that we're acting in a way God would have us act.

Which brings us to self-control - He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls (v 28). Without walls, you have no protection - everything (thoughts, ambitions, desires) gets in and bothers you. Also, everything gets out - you unleash your emotions on unsuspecting people. Fortify yourself; guard your heart. The walls that you erect are not to isolate, but are a means of self-control and protection.

Read on.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 24


Well, I got ahead of myself this morning and read the wrong chapter. So now I have to regroup and focus on Proverbs 24. Just a thought - this morning, it hit me that I really love studying the scripture. I'm no theologian (nor do I wish to be) but what I really like is reading and then allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to me through the Word. Many times people hear the phrase "Holy Spirit" and come up with unrealistic expectations. The Holy Spirit is our comforter, our guide, and there to assist in all areas of life; you'd be amazed at how the Holy Spirit can lead if you let him.

Forgive my excitement, but for the past couple of chapters the tone of Proverbs has changed - it's no longer warnings but actually advice from wise people. They are 30 sayings of the wise that started in chapter 22 and end in this chapter. These sayings cover the typical and the atypical. For example, I didn't realize the effects of drunkenness were so thoroughly explained in the Bible, until yesterday. Let's be wise and learn from the wise.
Proverbs 24

Gems

At one point in my life, I had two very difficult/mean/unfair/wicked (this may be a stretch but that's how I felt) bosses and they both were named Susan. I got into the habit of taking my Bible to work daily and reading a chapter so that I would wisely know how to deal with the second Susan. With the first Susan, I didn’t handle it so well.

The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength. Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers (v 5-6). I wanted to be wise in my interactions; so I prayed for wisdom and the right people to talk to. If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength! (v10) This was an encouragement to not give up. When we go through difficult times, it seems easier to give up, but we learn so much more by staying the course and handling it in a way that's pleasing to God. In your adversity, you have a chance to help others also (v11). A co-worker actually told me, he was encouraged by how I was handling the situation. All I could think and say was, “that’s God.”
More encouragement - for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes (v16). Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked, for the evildoer has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out (v19-20).
Finally, when both Susans were deposed, I was reminded of these verses - Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them (v 17-18).

To show partiality in judgement is not good....(v23) - Judge everyone fairly; use the same standard for all. God is a just God, therefore, as humans we should try to imitate his standards. In society today, it glaringly clear what happens when there is partiality in judgement whether this partiality is based on race, class or gender.

Preparation and planning are essential for the proper execution of plans, therefore, "Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house." (v27)

One last gem I'd like to leave you with - An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips (v 26). The next time you're tempted to be dishonest in your speech, remember how good it feels to receive a kiss on the lips - and be honest. Your honest words will be well received by the hearer. If you've never received a kiss on the lips - take my word for it - it feels good.

Read on.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 23

I've used the running analogy throughout this challenge. At this point we're in the zone - your breathing and your gait is automatic. You've adjusted your pace for fatigue, refreshed yourself with snacks so that you have energy to finish, and you just run. So it is with Proverbs - we've adjusted, refreshed and now we read.
Proverbs 23.

I've taken to calling my observations and highlights gems because that's what they are - priceless, invaluable, bits of information.

Gems

When you sit to eat with a ruler.....(v1-3) When we were growing up my mother sat us down for etiquette lessons, so that we would know how to dine with dignitaries. These verses don't provide details around place settings but they do tell you how to behave when you dine with important people - rulers and kings. Because you won't receive what you typically eat, don't be a glutton. Eat in a considerate manner; observe what is before you and act honored to be there.

Do not wear yourself out to get rich....(v4-5) In an effort to have an abundance of material things, some will do anything. Getting rich should not be your primary focus. It's not worth it; in the end, they are all things, which can disappear overnight or whose worth can be devalued.

Do not eat the food of a begrudging host....(v6-9) When a person does things grudgingly, it’s out of compulsion, reluctantly or unwillingly, but not necessarily a desire to please. This gives off a feeling of awkwardness and it's almost better that you not take what is being offered. As a hostess, be a generous, sincere, compassionate host.

Remove not the old landmark....(v10-11) Don't try to defraud the fatherless or the helpless among you. They appear fatherless, but God will take care of them. Don't take advantage of anyone.

We are further encouraged to be wise. - The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful! (v 24,25)

Finally, we see the effects of alcohol. Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine.....(v19-25) Bloodshot eyes, bruises (due to fights or stumbling), the burning sensation in the stomach, no self-control, seeing things, imaginations, not being in full control of your mind and body, sadness, being delusional, and at the end wanting more. These verses describe a vicious cycle, which may be hard to break once started.

We are constantly being challenged to be wise in all our ways.

Read on. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 22

Proverbs 22 contains some gems that we hear often. If you're following the running analogy, we are maintaining our form - steady breathing, pace and rhythm.

Gems
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches and loving favor rather than silver or gold (v1). When all is said and done, all you have left is your name. I’d like to think that when people hear my name they say, “O yeah, she’s a good person, a Christian woman, smart, a person of her word, possessing sound character.” Of course, there are many more things that can be added to this list. A good reputation is worth having but it should be based on what’s inside – a good character. Do you have a good name, that’s consistent with who you are? If you were running for political office, would any dirt be found on you?

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it (v6). The training takes place when children are young however they reap the rewards when they are old. Often times they may think you’re being mean to them, or you don’t understand, or you’re too strict. But if done with love and understanding they will reap the benefits of this when they are older. As parents, we don’t know when this epiphany takes place, but we know it happens. As a parent, don’t neglect your responsibility because it seems hard for the moment; in the end it will be beneficial to the child.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction drives it far (v15). Most babies are cute, angelic even. Yet it is amazing that one of the first words a child masters is “No,” and knows how to use it in its proper context. Foolishness starts young, as does the correction, the training, and the discipline. (Please note, I am not advocating child abuse, neither is the scripture.)

Make no friendship with an angry man….(v 24,25). Spirit has a wonderful and unaccountable influence upon spirit. From those with whom we associate we acquire habits, and learn their ways, imbibe their spirit, show their tempers and walk in their steps. We cannot ever be too careful of our company, for we may soon learn ways that will be a snare to our soul (Clarke’s commentary). Be careful of the company you keep.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings....(v 29) Don't be afraid of hard work; of being persistent and conscientious.  One of the rewards of diligence is success, which means the accomplishment of what you set out to do. Diligence springs from an attitude of the heart; it will transport you to unexpected places.

Read on.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 21

Isn’t it amazing, how a book that was written centuries ago is still relevant today? The more I read and learn, the more I realize there’s nothing new under the sun. I hope you also are gaining insight into the application of God’s word to our lives.

Proverbs 21

Observations and Highlights

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty (v5). The KJV has the word thoughts instead of plans. I was reading a blog yesterday, where the author in several posts talks about planning her family. She was amazed that others did not plan their families. Her planning was more an expression of her thoughts and desires for her family, not something set in stone that she would always adhere to. As Christians, God knows the desires of our hearts; being diligent leads to profit – as it is in the physical so it is in the spiritual. In this verse, the opposite of diligence isn’t laziness, but haste – being rushed or hurried. Take your time as you make decisions, and weigh all options.

Don’t be a brawling, contentious or angry woman (v 9, 19). A brawling contentious woman is one who is always looking for a fight or argument. Many people write about nagging wives – but one does not have to nag. From experience, I’ve learned to ask for what I want and let it go. When we don’t let it go is when it escalates to nagging, fighting or arguments. This is hard for us women, but we have to learn to let things go or we become like brawling contentious angry women, whom no one would rather live with. According to Proverbs, it’s easier to live with less (in a desert) than with this type of woman. Again, if I’m reflective, I don’t like being this kind of woman either, especially when I see what it does to others around me.

When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge (v11). Learn from the mistakes of others – you don’t have to experience everything to know how it’s going to affect you. A wise person chooses to learn.

There is no wisdom, no insight, and no plan that can succeed against the LORD (v30). Fighting, scheming, manipulating against God’s way is pointless – your plans won’t succeed. So where does this leave you? Find out God’s way (through reading and obeying His word, and talking to other believers) so that your plans are in line with what He wants. But remember God is sovereign, yet loving.

Read on.




Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 20

I have a confession; I've attempted this challenge before but typically at this point, I fall off the wagon. I make up excuses, or I say I'll do it later and before you know it a couple of days have passed. But somehow I get back up after missing a few days and resume where I've left off.

So, I want to encourage you - DON'T FALL OFF THE WAGON, STICK IT OUT. Imagine this is a half marathon; you are past the midpoint but now you’re really beginning to feel the toll on your body. Perhaps you slow your pace or even walk. IT'S OK TO WALK AS LONG AS YOU DON'T QUIT.
We're going at a slower pace today, but we're getting through.

Proverbs 20
Observations and Highlights

Perhaps the writer of Proverbs knew that we humans can be stubborn at times; perhaps this is why at this point the message seems repetitive. There are different scenarios presented where the end result is always to get wisdom, be wise, be smart, and don't be foolish.

Scenarios:
• Alcoholism (v1) - We now say alcoholism is a disease. Many are led down this path because they think they are stronger than alcohol, but this is not a wise choice. Wine is a strong mocker.

• Laziness (v 4, 13) - Be willing to put in the effort so that you can reap the reward.

• Handling authority (v 8, 26) - A good leader has the ability to see evil and get rid of it; the authority of his position allows him to do so.

• Cheating (v 10, 17, 23) - Cheating will haunt you and is an abomination to the Lord. Cheating means to act dishonestly or unfairly. Cheating on a test, in a relationship, taking unethical shortcuts are just some examples.

• Purity (v 7, 9) - A just person has integrity; anyone who interacts with him is blessed especially his family. No one can be righteous in their own strength; this only happens by the grace of God.

• Youth (v 11, 29) - We're all known by what we do and say, even children - teachers can testify to this. Besides actions, youth is marked by virility and strength, and age is marked by gray hair. The beauty of old men is the gray head.

• Planning (v 5, 18) - Seeking counsel requires effort. It takes a wise person to be able to extract wisdom from another. There's an implication that in being wise you must be willing to listen and process what you are hearing. Plans are made or established based off of good counsel. This applies to everything, even going into battle.

• Speaking (v 15, 19) – The lips of knowledge are a precious jewel. In contrast, a talebearer creates problems and breaks trust. Flattery is an indicator that a person is a talebearer.


• Fighting (v 3) – whether physical or verbal, it is considered an honor and a sign of wisdom to cease from strife.


Read on.

Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Chapter a Day - Proverbs 19


I've benefited immensely from this challenge in that it makes me realize that if one wants to be wise, they can be - if they choose to obey the Word of God and apply it to their lives. Let's maintain our form and jump into Proverbs 19.

Observations and Highlights

One of the constant themes in the book of Proverbs is dealing with those that are poor. What does it mean to be poor? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, poor is defined as lacking material possessions; of, relating to, or characterized by poverty; less than adequate, meager, small in worth; inferior in quality or value. It's a broad definition that covers a lack of physical possessions to a state of mind. To be poor is not a bad thing, either - it can happen to any of us.
So, even though you lack physical possessions you can still walk uprightly. Your physical situation does not necessarily determine your mental and spiritual state (v1). One of the benefits of being poor is being able to determine who your true friends are (v2). Remember, whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward them for what they have done (v19). Lending to the Lord is something we can't understand because it is not an earthly transaction. This reaps heavenly rewards.


One other powerful verse that can really impact our interactions is a person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense (v11). The practicing of wisdom produces patience that allows you to overlook actions that may irritate. Some folks aren't social in the morning and never say good morning - overlook it; someone persistently mispronounces your name - overlook it; someone cuts you off on the freeway - overlook it. We commit offenses every day - it’s up to us to decide how we respond to them. Someone told me a long time ago to ”Grow Duck Feathers” - so that things can just roll off my back. I've taken this advice to heart, but again it stems from the wisdom of God's word.


This chapter also mentions relationships in the home. A foolish child is a father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof. Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.(v 13,14) If you've read along so far, you know what actions make up foolish behavior. If you are behaving foolishly you are a foolish person; a foolish child is a heartbreaking. A quarrelsome wife is also exhibiting foolish behavior but a prudent wife is from the Lord. We can control how we provide an inheritance to our children, but as a husband when you have a wife that is wise and a blessing to you though you may have selected your wife, it was the Lord that guided you all along. A prudent wife is from the Lord.

Read on.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Chapter a Day - Proverbs 18

What a crazy world we live in - there's polarization of political parties and the character of the candidates is questioned based on what they say. Perhaps, all would do well by spending some time in Proverbs.

Proverbs 18 - There are lots of nuggets of wisdom in this chapter that deal with our speech, friendship, and wives. We're more than halfway done and we're benefiting immensely.

Observations and Highlights

Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions (v2). One of the hallmarks of a fool is that they're not good listeners. They love to hear themselves speak and bloviate but pay little attention to what others have to say.

Verses 4-8 contrast the words of the wise with the words of a fool.
The words of the wise are deep, plenteous, and helpful. The words of the fool are contentious, destructive, hurtful and shallow. The tongue holds the power of life or death (v21).

He who answers a matter before hearing it, it is folly and shame unto him (v13). Listen before answering. Don't interrupt when others are speaking. For bigger issues, weigh all options before answering. This sounds like Communication 101 - a class I may have taken in college or on the job. Good communication is essential in all relationships including marriage.

It seems that the writer shifts to marriage at this point, but the principles about communication and being foolish and wise are applicable. So first, he lets us know it is an honor to have a wife. He who finds a wife finds a good thing and receives favor from the Lord (v22). For wives, know that you are a good thing. Then, for husbands, he reminds them that they found their good thing, so treat her accordingly (1 Peter 3:7). It is not a  stretch to say that husbands and wives would be better served if they communicated as if they were wise persons to each other.

A man that has friends must show himself friendly, and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother (v 24). If you're married, one of the friendships you have automatically is the friend found in your spouse, and in my experience, most spouses stick closer than a brother. Your spouse is with you through thick and thin. If you're not married, you still have to put in the effort to being a friend; you have to nurture the relationships in your life. It's when times are tough that we begin to see who our true friends are. They visit you in the hospital if you're ill, they lend a hand if you're down, they comfort you when things aren't going right. They have a heart that seems to beat to your heartbeat - that's a true friend. This verse also speaks of reciprocity - true friendship is not one-sided. Lastly, when we have friends that are there for us, it is similar to the relationship we have with our Greatest Friend, Jesus. Only He truly embodies unconditional love and sacrifice.

Read on.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these verses or others that stood out to you.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 17

I saw this quote and thought it was appropriate for our challenge - "A chapter of Proverbs a day keeps the stupids away." Don't we all wrestle with the stupids? I do. It's one of the reasons why I'm doing this challenge and wanted to share it with you. They say it takes seven days to establish a habit; hopefully, by now this is a daily habit for you. Of course, you never know what you're going to discover until you start reading. This chapter contains 28 sayings which use parallelisms and analogies to assist in visualizing what is being said. Let's jump right in.

Proverbs 17

Observations and Highlights

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart (v3). Just as fire, which is harsh, tests the purity of silver and gold, so too the Lord test us to refine and purify us. The Lord can appear to be harsh, but He's also loving. The tests may be in the form of difficult people, circumstances, or both. We are being refined - like the precious materials that we are. If we weren't silver or gold but rather wood or hay, the fire would consume us. As you go through trials and challenges, think of yourself as a precious metal that is being refined thus increasing your value.

Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished (v5). Don't mock those less fortunate than you as it displays a prideful heart. Instead, do what you can to help.

Friendships go through ups and downs. Sometimes our friends inadvertently hurt us. Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends; a friend loves at all times... (v9, 17). Love covers a multitude of sins. Speak your piece and move on. Don't continue to rehash it. When you've offended someone and it's brought to your attention, how do you feel? At that point, most of us would apologize. How would you feel if the offended person kept bringing up the issue? Either they didn't accept your apology or they're a troublemaker. They should heed the advice of v14 - Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Breaching a dam is the equivalent of opening the floodgates. True friends are rare; to have a friend you must be a friend.

A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth (v24). Wisdom brings discernment and perspective: the ability to understand the unwritten and the unsaid. Be wise!

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues (v27,28). Watch what you say, to whom you say it, and how you say it. I'm sure you've heard this quote before - "Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” So many things that make sense emanate from the Bible.

Read on.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 16

This chapter is encapsulated by statements that demonstrate the control God has over all of our circumstances - verses 1 and 33. In between we are given advice for daily living. Let's just jump right in, as we're in the zone.

Proverbs 16

Observations and Highlights

God, the Lord is in control of more than we sometimes wish to give him credit for. He provides the right word at the right time (v1), He knows our hearts and our motives (v2); He knows the end of the wicked(v5); He can help us avoid evil(v6); He establishes our plans (v9); He makes our enemies to be at peace with us (v7); and He prospers and blesses us (v20). In our human efforts, we try to do many of these things, but it really is an effort, since we can't control all things like He does. He cares about every detail of our lives.

Verses 12-15 talks about our interactions with kings. Kings are the equivalent of anyone in authority - bosses, governors, presidents, other leaders, etc. Some of the hallmarks of a good leader are:  they detest wrongdoing, value honesty, and grant favor. The King is in a position to grant favor; by your character and interactions with the King you may be in a position to receive this favor. But favor is not a given; it is up to the King to determine who receives it. When the King is upset, a wise person knows how to appease the king's anger. A wise person will not act in a way to further irritate the king, again, because he recognizes the power of the position. There is an underlying assumption in these passages that the King is a good king; however all Kings are not good so this passage also provides guidance on dealing with those also.

Pride goeth before a fall(v18-19). How many times have we seen this in our own lives? We get a little cocky over some achievement, and all of a sudden we are Mrs. Know-It-All. Know-It-Alls are no fun to be around - why do they need anyone else? Without fail, in life, as soon as we become over-confident, some event happens that grounds us again. Don't let yourself get cocky; stay humble.

Gray hair is a crown of splendor (v31) especially if it is attained in the way of righteousness. Have you ever thought about your gray hair in this manner? We dye it or cover it so people won't call us old. Wear your gray hair proudly - it's a sign of wisdom and maturity.

The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord (v33). God is in control

Read on.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 15

Look at how far we've come already. There are more contrasts between righteousness and wickedness with a focus on the little things that make a big impact - a soft answer, a wholesome tongue, a merry heart. Some of the larger impacts are highlighted also. Can you believe we're at the midpoint?
Proverbs 15

Observations and Highlights

This chapter starts off with another verse that I've heard quoted many times, particularly in my teens. "A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger (v1)." Or said another way, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." This verse came back to me when I would have yelled at my children, snapped at my husband, or became sarcastic with a coworker. It has saved me from much grief though I am not perfect. I have done all of the above and recognized after the fact, had I spoken differently I would have had a different outcome. It requires self-control to always give a soft answer.

Another theme in this chapter is - little is much when God is in it. (v 6, 16,17,25,27). This is the title of an old hymn that encourages you to give your best no matter how insignificant you feel or how small the task. When God is in it, there's a blessing.

Don't we love genuinely cheerful people? A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance (v13). Everything flows from within, so make sure your heart is right.

Whenever I'm facing huge decisions in my life I recall v 22 - "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed." It's not wrong to seek out advice, just be sure your sources can be honest and truthful and have your best interest at heart. Counsel means advice or guidance, especially as solicited from a knowledgeable person - so this rules out asking everyone for their opinions. You're not looking for hundreds of opinions, you're looking for additional insight to assist in making a decision. For me, the Bible serves as one of my primary sources of counsel, then my husband, and maybe another person who has some understanding(professional or otherwise) of what I'm thinking about. After all of this, I pray about it, until I have peace on the direction I should take.

Don't be afraid to seek out instruction, it's the beginning of understanding that leads to wisdom. (v 32,33).

One last point - before honor is humility (v33). We all need to submit, whether we like it or not. We submit to laws and rules. At work, we submit to our bosses. At home, we submit to each other (husband and wife). Children submit to their parents. So why not submit to God, and honor his commandments? Start with God first. The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom (v 33).

Read on.

I'd love to hear from you; leave a comment if you're so inclined.

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 14

Proverbs 14 - This chapter continues to provide more contrasts between wisdom and foolishness in various scenarios. We're in the zone, so let's keep moving.

Observations and Highlights

Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish woman destroys it with her own hands (v1). When you are doing what needs to be done in the right way, you are taking care of what's entrusted to you and you are wise. Some women beat themselves up for working, some for having to be firm with a child, for saying no when they really want to say yes, for teaching tough lessons, for the way they keep house, (perhaps it's not worthy of a picture in  "House Beautiful"). Mom guilt encompasses many things but it does not matter; you are building your house and you are wise. Hold on to this thought the next time you feel discouraged.

Leave the presence of a foolish person, when you perceive not in him knowledge (v7). How will you know you are in the presence of a foolish person? Refer back to Chapter 12Be a person of your convictions; measure what is being said and done. For me, it has to line up with scripture, the person speaking is of sound character, and to a certain degree what is being said makes sense. Foolish speaking may sound really good. That's why the verse says "when you perceive....". Once you recognize foolishness, make the change. There are many folks spouting hot air today; know your foundation, so that you know who to listen to.

There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end is destruction (v12). My father quoted this proverb often. When children reach a certain age they are convinced that they know more than their parents, and as a parent it becomes a bit challenging dealing with this new found "knowledge." We are cautioned to not be headstrong, instead, we are better served by seeking out and listening to wise counsel. Wise counsel can come through many people and sources so seek them out and listen. Listen so that you can prevent heartache.

Hard work brings a profit....(v 23). Hard work brings profit financially and in your growth. Through the effort you put in, you see the rewards and you are motivated to continue working, creating an upward spiral. This concept works in relationships, employment, creative endeavors, sports. It is applicable in all areas of life.

He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding...(v 29). This speaks of patience and self-control. Much of patience is learned and developed as we mature. As a Christian, one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. As you spend time in your relationship with the Lord, you will see evidence of self-control. Believers need self-control because the outside world and internal forces still attack (Romans 7:21-25). Like a vulnerable city, we must have defenses. Self-control naturally leads to perseverance (2 Peter 1:6) as we value the long-term good instead of the instant gratification of the world. Self-control is a gift that frees us. It frees us to enjoy the benefits of a healthy body. It frees us to rest in the security of good stewardship. It frees us from a guilty conscience. Self-control restricts the indulgence of our foolish desires, and we find the liberty to love and live as we were meant to. (Source: http://www.gotquestions.org/fruit-Holy-Spirit-self-control.html) Take a moment to think before you act. It's much better than always having to say sorry later.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to many people (v 34). On all levels, doing right is powerful! It doesn't make you wimp - it grants favor, it elevates. In the current political climate, it seems as if bad behavior is the order of the day, but according to scripture that won't exalt a nation. Do the right thing, all the time.

Read on.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 13

Proverbs 13 continues with contrasting righteous attributes and foolish attributes. However there are a couple of verses that don’t necessarily fit this model and I’d like to look at them. BTW, if you are taking the running analogy to heart, you should be in the zone now. Plan to stay in the zone for a while.

Observations and Highlights

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (v12).
Hope deferred. To hope is to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe desire or trust. To defer means to put off to a future time. Hope deferred is to have an expectation that is delayed; an expectation that doesn't occur in an anticipated timeframe, as a result, becoming less hopeful, stressed, or anxious. This delay pains the mind and affects the spirit. However, we have to know that what we’re hoping for is from the Lord. It does no good to hope you win the lottery if the Lord has not directed you in that way; that may just be wishful thinking.
Why be any of those things when you can give it over and just wait. Waiting seems SO HARD but hold on to the fact that a longing fulfilled brings life. God understands what we go through when we hope, that's why He gives us someone to place our hope in.

He that walks with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed (v 20).
Choose your friends wisely as they can negatively or positively influence you. Sometimes, it's much easier for friends to have a negative influence on you than the other way around which is why we are also warned that  bad company corrupts good character. The pull your companions may have on you is similar to a gravitational pull. The more wise friends you have the greater the likelihood that you will be positively impacted by them. The converse is also true. As with everything, it’s a process but once you recognize that you may be a companion of fools, sever the chains and go in a different direction.

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them (v 24).
If you’re a parent, you MUST discipline your children as it is one of the best ways to demonstrate love. In my family, we were beaten (sounds horrid), but we weren’t abused. That correction served its purpose because it kept us on the straight and narrow. As a child, I didn't necessarily appreciate this correction, and as an adult and a parent, I now know it could not have been easy for my parents. But the discipline occurred because the alternative was not pleasing: bad behaviour left unchecked. Find a happy medium that works for you, but correct your child lovingly when necessary. The more you do it in their formative years – the less you’ll have to do it as they're older.

Read on.



Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Chapter a Day - Proverbs 12


This past week I've felt meh, melancholy. However, this challenge is one of the things I look forward to doing on a daily basis. Sort of like running, huh?

Proverbs 12

Highlights and Observations

This chapter provides a vivid representation of wise and foolish attributes. The table below summarizes these attributes. There's no need to guess about where you are - your actions and behavior will let you know if you are wise or foolish. Hopefully, more of us wish to be wise.

WiseFoolish
Accepts discipline; listens to adviceHates to be corrected
Obtains favorReceives condemnation
Solid foundationWeak foundation
Plans are justPlans are conniving; deceitful
PrudentWarped mind; stupid
Willing to workChases fantasies
TrustworthyLying lips
Healing wordsReckless words
CalmAnxious; worrisome
DiligentLazy
Choose friends carefullyChoose friends rashly


How do you measure up? We're all works in progress, but with God's help, we can improve.

Read on.

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 11

Proverbs 11 like the previous chapter contains a wealth of information that can be used in our daily interactions with our neighbors, co-workers, random people we meet, or our families.

Before we go further, I like the analogy of distance running when it comes to doing this challenge. When you initially start running, a few minutes in you may feel like stopping, but you tell yourself to press on. Your legs are a bit sore and your feet feel like lead, but the longer you run, that feeling disappears. We're at that point.

Today, I've provided my thoughts on a few verses that resonated for me.

Highlights and Observations
The integrity of the upright shall guide them, but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.(v3) Integrity is the quality of  being honest and having strong moral principles. A person of integrity usually does not shift their views based on the circumstance but rather their moral compass allows them to handle any circumstance appropriately. Having strong moral principles will always guide you in the right direction. Something isn't right because it feels right, it's right because you have a guide of right and wrong and you know what right is.

When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. (v10, 21) A note about the joy - we're not joyful to see another person's demise; it's more of an acknowledgement of what we always knew but they refused to see. We shouldn't get too cocky about being right, or a person's downfall either.

A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. (v13) People who talk freely about others to you in a slanderous way, will talk about you the same way to others. This makes you not able to trust them. A trustworthy person does not betray trust.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion (v22). My immediate thought today is Kim K and her latest antics. Your beauty is priceless, something to be treasured, not thrown around or flaunted in the mud until it is tattered and unrecognizable because it is co-mingled with the filth of the pig sty. Think of the imagery of a gold ring in a pig's snout the next time you wish to recklessly flaunt what you have been given. Instead, be discreet; you're still beautiful.

The liberal soul shall be made fat...(v25) Be generous; you have nothing to lose by doing so. It is God who has blessed us, so liberally share his blessing with others as you will be blessed also. This may be your time our resources.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he that wins souls is wise...(v30) The fruit of a believer's life is attractive, appealing and inviting. Our righteous living speaks for itself and others are influenced to follow Christ by our example.

Keep reading. What verses/proverbs stood out for you?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 10


The more I feed myself with spiritual food, the easier it is to not give into my flaws. So I spend daily time in the Word. The other reason is because I truly want to become the person God wants me to be. I want to be salt and light to those around me without being super spiritual - I want to be a witness through my life, my actions, my words.

Proverbs 10 - there's so many nuggets here, I'll just pick a few that stand out to me.


Observations and Highlights

A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother (v1). Parents ache when they children don't turn out the way we expect them to, based on all that was poured into them. Material things don't make a child wise - you must spend time with your children teaching and modeling morals, values, etc. - principles that start in scripture.

The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked (v3). So simple yet profound. If you trust in the Lord and believe the promises in His Word, you will come to find out the truth of all of His word. You may lose your job but you won't go hungry - friends may provide, the church may step in, you may become more creative or He will send manna from heaven. When the trial is over and you look back you will marvel that what you thought was important was not and greater still you will realize that you and yours were provided for. But it started with trusting and believing what God says about you. You can't call yourself righteous and live otherwise; you have to be righteous - a child of the King.

Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth (v4). Don't be afraid of hard work.

Whoever walks in integrity, walks securely (v9) - What is integrity? Doing the right thing even when no one is looking; no need to second guess yourself if you do the right thing.

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs (v12) - learn to get along and be at peace with everyone.

The lips of the righteous nourish many (v 21) - If people know you always speak truth in a way that ministers to them, they seek you out; they want to be around you.

The blessing of the Lord maketh rich and addeth no sorrow... (v 22). This is one of my favorite verses. It doesn't mean that I will become filthy rich or I won't ever be sad, but it means that in His plans He is guiding and directing everything in a way that we cannot comprehend, that ultimately makes sense for us. I held on to this promise as we moved cross country and I hold on to it now as my children are embarking on various stages of their lives.

The fear of the Lord adds length to life (v 27). Godly living enhances the quality of your life. We are all promised 70 years; some of us make it and feel like we have 70 more years and some of us wish that it would all come to an end. Getting old is inevitable and challenging.

From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom (v31). - You're more inclined to listen to a morally upright person, than not - why is that? Because the fruits of their life indicate that they just may be on to something - and you want to know what their "secret" is.

As you embed these proverbs in your heart, realize that they are promises that you can hold to through the many stages of life.

Read on. I really would love to hear your thoughts on some of these Proverbs. Are you familiar with any of them? Did your parents quote them to you? If you have children, are you unwittingly teaching some of these principles to your children? How have these helped you?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 9

This chapter further illustrates the attributes of wisdom Proverbs 9.

Observations & Highlights

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy one is understanding....(v10,11) Is this becoming clear to you? In simplest terms, it takes fortitude for man/woman to submit to something bigger than himself. The act of submission to God is a wise act that leads to greater wisdom, knowledge and understanding. This wisdom is not abstract but is a principle accessible in every area of life. How many of us know people that are pompous and full of themselves? At some point we think these people are foolish because they refuse to submit to anyone - they think only what they say matters. The act of submission would be a step in the right direction; submission to a holy deity - God, would make them wise.

Teach the wise and they become wiser...v9. What makes someone smart? Those willing to accept instruction; those willing to listen. A wise person listens and becomes wiser; a foolish person does not.

Stolen waters are sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious...(v17,18) Illicit activity may feel good when you are doing it, but that feeling is temporary. You will reap the consequences of your actions. Why have short term pleasure for long term pain?

Read on.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 8


Some of the best mothers I know are the wisest; it seems as if they have taken Proverbs 8 to heart.

Here's why I say that:

Observations and Highlights
Wisdom speaks truth
Wisdom is just
Wisdom is discerning
Wisdom is precious and priceless
Wisdom hates pride and arrogance
Wisdom has sound judgement and counsel
Wisdom brings riches and honor; wealth and prosperity
Wisdom walks in the way of righteousness

Blessed are those who keep the ways of wisdom. (v 32-36)

This chapter is the personification of wisdom; if wisdom were a person he/she would have these attributes. Throughout my life, I have constantly prayed for wisdom; it is one of his gifts which can be liberally given to all who ask - James 1:5 and as we can see its rewards are huge.

In the above, substitute the name of someone you consider wise. Amazing!

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 7

One of the common themes in Proverbs so far is to flee temptation and listen to instruction.

The temptation may take the form of a seductive woman, but it can be any temptation. Let's review Proverbs 7.






Observations and Highlights

Why did the writer spend so much time warning his young son about the strange or adulterous woman? In today's language, she may be called a slut, whore or a loose woman. In our culture, we are bombarded with sexual enticement on every side, yet apparently it's not new. This woman is loud and stubborn and is always looking for a gullible man. She's also subtle - she knows how to get what she wants. She steps out on her man. She speaks so well, that what she is proposing sounds plausible. But when the man finally gives in to her, he realizes that he is like a bird who is trapped within an inch of his life. (v 10-23)

The father understood that the only way to protect yourself from this "in your face" temptation was to: know right from wrong, make a conscious decision to do right, understand the consequences of your actions, and feed your heart and soul with what's right. (v1-7, 24-27)

Sexual temptation is one we can all understand. We're told men are wired to cheat, premarital sex is ok, and you can even swing while married. Sex is something that is good but only within the confines God set forth. The thing about temptation is that there is always something in it that seems good. In order to resist temptation, you must have a good foundation, if not you'll be led astray by everything that sounds good.

Know the word; read the word.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Chapter A Day - Proverbs 6

Proverbs 6 provides several warnings against foolish behavior, lists things that God hates and provides more warnings on adultery.








Observations and Highlights

Warnings against foolish behavior
1.     Go to the ant..... (v6-11)
My parents are West Indian and one of the things I can remember growing up is my mother saying to us children, in her very strong Bajan accent, "Go to the ant thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise.” Back then, I didn’t know what a sluggard was, but it didn’t sound good. I did not want to be a sluggard. She always said this before we were given some new task to do. I think because of this verse we learned to embroider one summer, learned to crochet the next, I tried my hand at sewing because she sewed, and of course, chores - there were always chores. Clean the house, clean the bedrooms, the bathrooms, cook, mop, clean, etc. We weren't allowed to be idle or bored. She wanted us to be industrious - I'd have to say it worked. Thanks mum.
What are the ways of the ant? They are very small, yet they are a force to be reckoned with. They do what needs to be done, without a leader or anyone providing instruction. They anticipate for times of need and plan accordingly. They put away when there's plenty so that when there's little they are prepared. They understand the seasons of life - you may not always have excess, so plan ahead. Sleeping is overrated - sleep when you need to and then work while you are awake.

2.     Troublemakers ultimately get what they deserve, and sometimes it’s suddenly and with no warning. (v 12-15) Every behavior has a consequence and troublemakers are not exempt from this principle. As a matter of fact, because they are quick to stir up trouble, their consequences may be swift and untimely. Don’t be a troublemaker.

3.     Seven things that the Lord hates (v 17-19) 
1. A proud look
2. A lying tongue
3. Hands that shed innocent blood
4. A heart that creates wicked schemes
5. Feet swift to run after mischief
6. A false witness
7. One that creates discord

Have you ever looked at this list before? There are a couple of things about this list that stands out to me:
·         I don't like these things either. If it's good enough for the Lord then it’s good enough for me.
·         If you're a parent, these are behaviors you want your children to avoid; you may not say it in these terms but I don’t know one parent who wants their child to be a lying, scheming, manipulative, trouble making murderer and be proud of it.
·         God is the ultimate parent; He has our best interests at heart.
·         These are anti-social behaviors; if you have friends that display these characteristics eventually you remove yourself from them.

4.     Can a man take fire in his bosom and not be burned? (v 27) Last but not least - don't cheat on your spouse.

There's so much meat in this chapter - I'll have to revisit it at some point in the future.
 Hang in there with me - keep reading and growing.