Category Archives: Proverbs

Caught in Earthly Snares

Proverbs PictureFear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25

Do you aim to please people? At work, at home, or in social circles, do you try to do what people expect so there is little conflict or so you can make as many people happy as possible? I know I have been in this situation at work before. There are times when I do worry about what others will think as I take on a project and do it differently than what was expected. Sometimes it isn’t even worrying about what people will think as much as it is do I have the desire to listen to everybody’s opinion about what I’m doing.

I am getting caught up in the earthly snare of humans. I am worried about what others think. People’s comments, looks, and sighs all creep into my life and what I am doing and they begin to gnaw away at my confidence in what I am working on. You have probably been there at some point. It is hard work to keep negativity at arm’s length and not let it overtake your life.

So what to do? Well, the second part of this Proverb tells us that, “…whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe”. In the midst of when I feel like I am failing and fearing man, I need to remember that it is God who I need to fear and trust. He is the only one whose opinion matters in regards to what you do. He will keep me safe from man’s grasp.

If you keep God on your radar when you are working, playing, socializing, or whatever situation you may be in, then the fear of man’s opinions begin to fade. Again, this is not easy. In this materialistic and all about me world it is hard to keep focused on Jesus and not be distracted. In order to trust Him, you need to give Him your problems. Pray to Him, ask Him for help, and let Him know that you need and depend on Him to get you through. And then, you need to let Him guide you. It is easier to fear people and let those fears hold you back. But try to take a step towards trusting God more today, see where He takes you, and let Him keep you safe.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Outgive God

 

Proverbs PictureA generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

Tis the season where people are asking for money for this or that. Or you are at the checkout and they ask if you would like to donate to a Christmas fund for something. How do you decide who to give to without feeling guilty about not giving to everything?

Giving financially is a great way to support others.  Giving of yourself is a great way to support others too. The Bible says in this Proverb, “A generous man will prosper.”  So giving generously out of love and wanting to will benefit you as much as the recipient. You will be refreshed and see things from new perspective while blessing others.

So how do you decide when to give, what to give, and who to give to? Well, you need to have a plan.

1. When to Give

Give when you are able to because you have more than enough and give when things are tight to remember that others are probably worse off. You don’t need to give every time  at the cash register or bucket with a ringer. If you want to, you can, but don’t feel guilted into it. You decide when you are purposefully going to give. When you decide to give, you will be ready to give out of your abundance. You can allow for spontaneous giving too. Sometimes, in the moment, you just know it is the right thing to do!

2. What to Give

Obviously giving money is an easy thing to do. Writing a check, swiping your card, or handing over cash is quick and accessible. You are also trusting a group to use your money, combined with other donations, the best to help the most. But sometimes, there might be  a nagging inside of you that says you need to do more. Well, that is when you need to give of your time. You need to find something that you enjoy and want to help with. Through service you are finding new connections with others who need your skills. Be sure you are willing to commit out of desire to serve and you will find yourself refreshed.

3. Who to Give to

You have worked hard for your money and if you are chosing to serve, then you want to be sure your time and effort will make a difference. Deciding who you give to is important. Do some research, ask around, and then decide. Being pleased with where your generosity is going will only motivate you and encourage you to be more generous with your time and money.

Giving is not a competition. The saying You Can’t Outgive God is true. But, I think he wants you to strive towards this goal of complete generosity. If you want to feel refreshed as the Proverb says, then it is time to take you out of the equation and put others in it. Take the focus off of your needs and desires and instead focus on others. You will prosper and God will bless your life in ways you can’t imagine. I challenge you to take the plunge and give generously, and feel revitalized!

A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searching Inside of You

Proverbs PictureThe lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being. Proverbs 20:27

How often do your kids tell you something and you just know it’s a lie? My one son needs to bring a snack to school because they eat lunch so early. I pack it for him in the front pocket of his book bag and toss in a new one each day. But, he didn’t eat it one day, so I left it in there. The next day it was still there, although a bit more crushed. I didn’t think anything of it because sometimes it’s a kid’s birthday or they run out of time. But the next day it was still there. I asked him at breakfast why he hadn’t been eating his snack. He looks at me and pauses before answering. Ding, ding, ding! A lie is forming rings in my head. His eyes get big and I ask him again and it eventually comes out that he was tired of pretzels and so was telling the teacher he didn’t have a snack because her snacks were better! Don’t you love kids and their honesty? Well, we got it all straightened out. He ate his pretzels that day and now I try to put more variety into his snacks.

The point is I had to search for the answer to find the truth. God already knows the spirit of a man. He searches, but He already knows the answer. He wants you to trust Him with things you struggle with. In Genesis, after Adam and Eve ate the fruit and hide, God asks where they are. He already knows where they are and what they did! But He wants you to come to Him.

Ask God for help. Confess to Him that you don’t have it all together. Admit that you made a mistake. Let God see your inmost being as loving, humble, remorseful, and respectful of His awesomeness. Only then can you see what is really on the inside of you.

The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being. Proverbs 20:27

Talking Too Much

Proverbs Picture

A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. Proverbs 20:19

Is there someone in your life who always knows the latest about everybody? Does it make you wonder what they know about you?! In a world where everything seems to be almost instantaneous, it sure doesn’t take long for a confidence to be heard by many.

This is where you really need to know who you are sharing with. Having a good friend is a beautiful thing. She is someone you trust to give you the honest truth about things and has probably seen you through some hairy situations. She is not a gossip who is going to spread your business to people who don’t need to know.

“…so avoid a man who talks too much” means you need to be responsible for what comes out of your mouth. You don’t want to air your dirty laundry to someone who doesn’t need to hear it. Even in a fit of anger, you need to guard your tongue. Some gossips thrill and thrive on knowing juicy tidbits that could cause upheaval for someone else. They plot to decide the best moment to drop the bomb of what they know so it can purposefully hurt someone. Other gossips just don’t know how to keep their mouths shut and can’t keep a secret.

I’m sure at some point you have played that telephone game. You know the one where someone whispers something into the ear of the person beside them and then they whisper it and so on. The fun is seeing what the final statement is compared to the original. However, in real life, sometimes it isn’t so fun when the gossip is shared, repeated, altered, and repeated wrongly.

So, be careful with your tongue. Be careful who you share sensitive things with. Find that friend and try to avoid sensitive items with the gossiper. Your business is yours, so be responsible as you share it.

Oh, and the tables can be turned on this too. Don’t you be a gossip who tells other people’s business. And don’t talk too much about things which don’t concern you. You need to watch your own words.

A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. Proverbs 20:19

Get Out the Broom and Clean Yourself Up!

Proverbs PictureHe who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. Proverbs 14:31

What is your reaction when you see someone poor? Do you look down your nose, avert your eyes, cross the street, or make sure the doors are locked. Do you wonder why they don’t get a job or clean themselves or their front sidewalk up? I can check all of those things off and I’m pretty sure if you are reading this, you can too.

The next question is what do you do? The Proverb says He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker. God made all of us, from the clean and rich, to the down and out. How we treat others is a reflection of how we treat God! Ouch. So if we look down our nose at others, we are looking down our nose at God. Double ouch. I don’t want to treat God with anything less than praise. I am humbled that He chose me and He chose you.

We should all want to live out the second part of the Proverb which says …but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. I want to honor God. Our actions need to show honor to God because none of us is any better than anyone else when it comes down to it. God knows what is really in our hearts. Reading this Proverb lets me know that my heart needs some cleaning.

So, let’s get out the broom, the vacuum, or the Swiffer. What action can we take today to start cleaning out the eye aversions and judgmental thoughts?

First, pray. Pray to God and ask for forgiveness that you were judging someone on their situation that you know nothing about.

Second, pray. Pray to God and ask him to open up opportunities for you to do something for someone which will honor Him. Maybe this means cleaning up your own sidewalk and then you just kind of keep going up the street. Maybe this means putting together a bag full of food and secretly dropping it off on someone’s porch. Maybe this means saying hello with a smile when someone looks at you.

Third, pray. Praise Him and thank Him for the blessings He has given you. Be specific. It’s getting cold where I live and I’ve got the heat on. Thank you, God, that we have heat and money to pay that bill!

If we can remember that one day we could be on the receiving end of someone’s kindness because we have fallen on hard times we would probably treat others a little differently. Matthew 25:40 says, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Don’t be kind to make yourself feel good. Do it for God.

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. Proverbs 14:31

A Shopping List Life Strategy

Proverbs PictureA wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisors. Proverbs 24:5-6

My husband laughs at how I plot out my grocery shopping trips. First, I take inventory of what we have on hand. This includes going through every cabinet and freezer and marking down how many of something I have. Second, I plot our dinner meals for the month, based on what we have and then on what I’d like to have. Third, I go through my list and mark down how many of each item to buy. Fourth, I highlight the things we need in two different colors, one for each store I go to. Third, we go shop. If the kids are with me, we take two carts, one for cold stuff and one for regular stuff. This makes it easier to pack into the car, rather than having it mixed up. When we shop, I don’t mess around. Why? Well, my inventory list is by aisle so I know exactly what order and what aisle to go down. It’s my very own paper app! Once I sent my husband to the big store for stuff with this list. He looked at my list and says, “You know which aisle stuff is in?” Yup. He came home and told me everything was right where I said it would be. Easy.

This strategy helps me to know what we have and to not buy too much of something I have on hand or double up on something I don’t really need to double up on. It saves me time and money. Kids might cry for donuts, but I tell them, it’s not on the list. Well, sometimes I give in! What would happen if I used this detailed a strategy in other areas?

The Proverb says: A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisors. This is talking about actual war of course. It’s telling you, you need a strategy to win and you need to be wise. Some of you are battling wars in your own life. This Proverb can help you. You need to get knowledge and increase your strength. You need to find people who can guide and mentor you. You need people in your corner!

Folks, you need to know you have a personal cheerleader in your corner already. God! He is wise, strong, a great counselor, advisor, and the only teammate you need on your side if you are battling something bigger than you can handle. This is good news! Trust me that no matter if your faith is still young, wavering, or indecisive God is on your side. He will put people in your path that can help you. He will help you make tough decisions if you ask Him. He loves you. Reach out to Him. Pray to Him. Call on His name. He is always there, but He is waiting for you to ask Him to be on your team forever.

Make your shopping list for the battle you are waging. Take inventory, see what you need, highlight important stuff, and find some helpers. Most importantly, ask for God’s help, send out the battle cry. He is the greatest advisor and can help you through.

A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisors. Proverbs 24:5-6

Forgetting the Future Hope

Proverbs Picture

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:17-18

When we moved to a new area to start a church plant, we left behind the cutest house, with a nice yard. There was room for the kids to run and a huge tree with a great swing. The neighbors were nice and you could walk around the looping streets or the kids could ride their bikes. When we moved, it was hard to find a house big enough for our family. Three bedroom houses were not plentiful. But, we were driving around and saw a sign and it said open today. So, we stopped and ended up getting this semi-detached house, on a main road, with a tiny yard, very close to the neighbor’s houses. The good part was, it was big enough for us, the rent was just what we needed, and it was just finished being rehabbed, so it was like it was new.

We thought this house would be temporary. Well, we’ve lived here over two years and there is hardly a day goes by that I don’t look at houses for sale. I’m wishing, coveting what I don’t have. Everything else looks more attractive than what I have. I am envious. Other things look more attractive in this material world, when really all my needs are met right where I am. Have you been there?

Constantly, I need to remind myself to fear the Lord. To know and take comfort in the fact that he’s got my life all under control. That He has me right where I need to be, with what I need, and who I need. I fall into the trap of the gimmies. Gimmie more of this, better that, all based on earthly desires.

What I, what we, really need to do is keep our eyes on “…a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off”. We need to praise God for the blessings he has given us now. Most importantly, we need to give thanks for the fact that He has brought someone into our lives who shared the Gospel with us and we have placed our faith in Jesus. That future is a future where we live forever in heaven with Him. And that, my friends, will be better than anything here on earth, no matter how good it looks. It will even be better than that nice four bedroom, two bath house on a third of an acre I’ve got my eye on. I pray we all can focus on that future hope.

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:17-18

Money Won’t Go With You

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Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. Proverbs 23: 4-5

Every once in a while the big jackpot lottery comes around and our family likes to dream. If you had $445 million dollars, what would you buy with it? Buy a house, new car, pay off debt, or get a lot of Legos? It’s fun to do. Sometimes we buy a ticket or two just for that chance to dream. But then the reality sinks in when we check the numbers. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten one number. Oh well, back to work we go, right?

You see, money is nice. It allows us to buy things we need and sometimes want. It’s how you get food and pay for shelter. But if money is the all consuming need in your life, you need to take a step back. Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint means that if you are just lusting after money all the time, people will notice. Will they start to think that you are using them just to get ahead and not for friendship? At some point, the big companies, with the billion of dollars of profits are going to need to realize that regular people got them there. How about showing some restraint with your prices? Recently, the computer in our car broke and we had to replace it. The little box that was tucked into our car cost over $1,000. It makes me wonder how much it really cost to make. Plus, labor to install and that makes me glad we have emergency money saved up for unexpected things.

I just want to mention the second verse of the Proverb. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. Basically, you can’t take it with you. All the money, stuff, nice car, and designer clothes stay here when you die. The people left here will probably get rid of it to sell, for money, and what you found so important will just be forgotten. You might be forgotten too, if all you cared about was getting rich. So, live your life well. Not with the focus of fame and fortune, but with the focus of how you can impact lives around you. If you do strike it rich, I’m sure you have worked hard for it and you have the right to spend it how you want. But remember, money won’t keep you warm at night and you can’t take it with you.

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. Proverbs 23:4-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Borrow, You Are a Servant

Proverbs PictureThe rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7

Money can be a touchy subject. How much do you make, how much did that car set you back? Really, it’s nobody’s business what or how you spend your money. The thing is, you need to be responsible with it. All too often, people who have a lot of money spend it outrageously and then find themselves in a credit hole. All too often, people who have just enough money spend it unnecessarily. All too often, people who don’t have enough money spend it unwisely.

Remember Proverbs 26:27 about the man digging a pit and falling into it? Well, it happens with money far too often. “The rich rule over the poor…” is basically true. How many poor people are in leadership positions or serve in Congress? They’re just trying to survive. “…and the borrower is servant to the lender” probably everyone can relate to this. Have a mortgage, student loans, or even owe Dad back for the money he loaned you to buy gas? Financially, unless you are completely debt free, you are a servant to the bank until you pay them pack. Remember learning about indentured servants in history class? They were servants until they paid back their passage and earned their freedom.

I think we can learn a couple practical things to use in everyday life. First off, if you are rich, don’t flaunt it or get on a power trip over other people. Money doesn’t make you important, it just gives you more opportunities. Second, if you are in any kind of debt, spend wisely. Work to pay down that debt, find a job, get off your butt and do something so that you are not a servant to the lender forever. Believe it or not, God has given you just the right amount of money you need. Your job is to take what he has blessed you with and do the best you can with it here on earth.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avoiding the Thorns

May 2013 001In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them. Proverbs 22:5

Back in Proverbs 1:7, I wrote about the definition for the word discipline. One definition is a behavior which follows rules. So, today I ask, how many of you are disciplined? Are you disciplined enough to show up to work on time, get to sports practice promptly, or meet friends for dinner at the designated time? Now, I ask again, how many of you are disciplined? Are you disciplined enough to stop what you are doing and really listen to someone who is talking to you, to watch the words you say, or to show up on time to church for worship?

The Proverb for today says, “In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them.” Recently I was cutting back my rose bushes. I don’t know whether it is the season for that or not, but they were kind of scraggly looking so I decided to do it. To get to a couple of branches for the best cut, I had to stick my arm into the bush. What’s on the stems of roses? Thorns. So, as I went for the cut, I tried to maneuver my arm through the stems without catching my gloves and arms on the thorns. I wasn’t very successful. I could feel the thorns snagging my gloves and could definitely feel the thorns scratching my skin. After, I cut and carefully pulled my arm back out, I had to pull some thorns from my gloves.

Life and being disciplined for things in life is full of thorns, or traps, and snares that want to keep you away from Jesus. It’s kind of like cutting back a rosebush and trying to avoid the thorns. Life is hard. There is bad stuff that the world wants to catch you in. You want to try to avoid those thorns. What can help? Well, be disciplined. And by that I mean for the things that Jesus and the Bible say are important, like loving your neighbor, guarding your mouth, and worshipping with others and telling others about Jesus. Praying, spending time with Jesus, and making Him a priority are going to help you avoid traps. Is it easy? No. Does it take work? Yes. Will you fail and be snared? Yes. Will your journey with Jesus by your side be easier? Yes.

I encourage you today, to watch out for thorns. Whether it is negative people, overscheduling, or sleep which makes you late, try to avoid them. Bob and weave your way through life, keeping your eyes focused on Jesus. He wants to guide you. You need to let Him.

In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them. Proverbs 22:5