Bible

The God Who Pays Attention

Hairs-on-headJesus tells us that we have a Father who pays attention to our lives - down to the very details.

Matthew 10:29-30. God cares what happens to it (a small canary) even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail — even numbering the hairs on your head.

Numbering the hairs on our head (an easier task for some of us than others!) is not a statement of God's mathematical prowess but rather of his caring attention to even the minute details of our life.

The priestly blessing says this:

Numbers 6:24-26. The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

What would it look like to realise that every moment of every day, God is looking at you - with full attention. And that he is doing so with a smile on his face - shining on you, as it were. Well, it's true!

May you live with that awareness today and may it release amazing love, joy and peace into your heart. So much so, that is overflows onto others around you.


Devotional Bible Reading

Bible-Reading

Every year, we encourage our church to read through the Bible. There are a variety of reading programs available online. This year we will read through the New Testament, as well as the books of Psalms and Proverbs. Visit our church web site for the complete reading program. 

There is a great benefit in using a devotional format for Bible reading aimed at hearing from God daily and responding to his leading. The goal is not to just ‘get through’ your Bible reading but to allow God’s Word to ‘get in’ to your heart and life, bringing about personal growth and positive change.

As you do your daily reading, consider using the following devotional format:

Scripture – write out a verse or two that speak specifically to you today.

Observation – make a note of what you observe in the text. What was happening back 'there and then'?

Application – write out how God’s Word applies to your life. What does this mean to you 'here and now'?

Prayer – write out a prayer of response to what God has said to you.

You can do this by yourself, with your family, with some friends or as part of your Life Group. As you make your time with God and his Word the priority of your day, you will experience a tangible ‘washing of the Word’ in your heart and life.


Living in the End Times

1peterThe apostle Peter wrote this back in the first century:

1 Peter 4:7-11. The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

The anticipation of the end and of Jesus Christ’s return should impact our attitudes, actions and relationships.

How should we live in the “end times”?

  1. Be clear minded. We are to be wise and have a clearly defined sense of purpose. Don’t allow confusion or fuzziness into your mind. Know what’s important and focus on it. Know what’s not important and avoid it.
  2. Be self-controlled. 
  3. Pray.
  4. Love others deeply. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love forgives again and again.
  5. Be hospitable ... and not just because you have to.
  6. Use your gifts (given you by God’s grace) to serve others.
  7. Serve with all your heart. Do your very best so that God may be praised and receive glory through you.

Now that's not just good advice; it's essential living for followers of Jesus Christ.


They Sailed On

Sailing

Right now we are reading through the Gospel of Luke as a church. Each time I read the Gospels, I never fail to see something new about Jesus and the way he brought transformation to people who he came in contact with.

After Jesus calmed the storm, he said to his disciples, "Why can't you trust me?" (Luke 8:25. Message Bible) That's a good question to consider after God brings you through a tough time. 

Luke goes on to say:

Luke 8:26-27. They sailed on to the country of the Gerasenes, directly opposite Galilee. As he stepped out onto land, a madman from town met him; he was a victim of demons. He hadn't worn clothes for a long time, nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery. Message Bible

I started to move on to the next story but felt to slow down and have a closer reflection on those simple three words - "They sailed on ..."

"They". This speaks to me of team, of community, of friendship, and of partnership. Life and ministry are not to be done alone but with other people. Jesus and others are in your boat. 

"Sailed". There are two main ways to get across a lake - rowing or sailing. Rowing is through our own strength while sailing is a different approach altogether. It's about catching the wind. It requires dependence, proper positioning, sensitivity and discernment. We are to be Spirit-driven people.

"On". We haven't arrived yet. There is more to come - experiences, transformations, miracles and challenges. Although there are times when we need to pause, to rest and to reflect, God's purposes are about moving forward - not backward or staying where we are.

Response:

1. Take time today to encourage three people in your 'boat', expressing gratitude for what they mean to you.

2. Pray for an increase of the Holy Spirit's work and power (wind) in your life.

3. See yourself as moving forward together - with your family, your friends, your small group and your church community.

"They sailed on."


Proverbs 28

Proverbs-Series

Today we glean some more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Here are a few thoughts from Proverbs 28.

Vs.1. The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions. 

When you live a righteous life you have nothing to be afraid of.

Vs.2. When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But with wise and knowledgeable leaders, there is stability. 

Everything rises and falls on leadership. Good leadership (wise and godly) produces stability.

Vs.4. To reject the law is to praise the wicked; to obey the law is to fight them. 

Keeping the law is a way to stand for righteousness.

Vs.6. It is better to be poor and honest than rich and crooked. 

Righteousness is more important than wealth.

Vs.7. Young people who obey the law are wise; those who seek out worthless companions bring shame to their parents. 

Be careful who you hang around.

Vs.9. The prayers of a person who ignores the law are despised. 

God hears the prayers of the righteous.

Vs.13. People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy. 

We all make mistakes. The key is to admit them and then not to keep repeating them. If we cover them up we will not succeed in life.

Vs.14. Blessed are those who have a tender conscience, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble. 

Maintain a sensitive conscience – it will do you good.

Vs.16. Only a stupid prince will oppress his people, but a king will have a long reign if he hates dishonesty and bribes. 

As a leader, do good to you people, ruling with honesty and uprightness.

Vs.18. The honest will be rescued from harm, but those who are crooked will be destroyed. 

Honesty and integrity protect you from harm.

Vs.19. Hard workers have plenty of food; playing around brings poverty. 

When you are diligent and hard working, you’ll reap ‘plenty’. If you play around you will end in poverty.

Vs.20. The trustworthy will get a rich reward. But the person who wants to get rich quick will only get into trouble. 

Watch out for ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes.

Vs.21. Showing partiality is never good, yet some will do wrong for something as small as a piece of bread. 

Treat people fairly and justly.

Vs.23. In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery. 

Speak the truth in a loving way. Don’t be a flatterer who only says nice things.

Vs.26. Trusting oneself is foolish, but those who walk in wisdom are safe. 

Don’t trust yourself – the heart is deceitful. Set up safe guards against your own sinfulness. That is wisdom.

Vs.27. Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing. But a curse will come upon those who close their eyes to poverty. 

Give generously to the poor. Don’t close your eyes to their need.


Proverbs 21

Proverbs-Series

Today we glean some more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Here are a few thoughts from Proverbs 21.

Vs.1. The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he turns it wherever he pleases. 

God is sovereign and overrules all – even the heart of those in authority.

Vs.2. People may think they are doing what is right, but the LORD examines the heart. 

God evaluates our inner world.

Vs.3. The LORD is more pleased when we do what is just and right than when we give him sacrifices. 

Obedience is the ultimate pleasure to the Lord not worship. In fact, obedience demonstrates love.

Vs.4. Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin. 

Even pride in our heart is sin.

Vs.5. Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. 

Prosperity results from good planning and hard work. Don’t try to take short cuts!

Vs.7. Because the wicked refuse to do what is just, their violence boomerangs and destroys them. 

We reap what we sow – for better or worse.

Vs.9. It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a contentious wife in a lovely home. 

Good relationships are more valuable than opulent living.

Vs.13. Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need. 

Give to the poor and needy. Don’t ignore them or you will be ignored in your time of need.

Vs.16. The person who strays from common sense will end up in the company of the dead.  

Don’t be foolish in how you live. Follow good common sense.

Vs.17. Those who love pleasure become poor; wine and luxury are not the way to riches. 

An obsession with pleasure and luxury usually result in poverty. Learn to be frugal with your resources rather than spend them impulsively. 

Vs.20. The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get. 

Wisdom results in wealth and luxury because wise people use their resources with prudence rather than spending whatever they earn.

Don’t devour all you have. Here are 4 things you should not devour:

  1. The tithe – it’s the Lord’s.
  2. An offering – seed to sow.
  3. Emergency funds – for the unexpected.
  4. Savings – investment for the future.

Learn to live on 80% of your income. If you can’t, you either need to generate more income or reduce your expenses.

Vs.23. If you keep your mouth shut, you will stay out of trouble. 

Don’t speak too much. Let your words be few.

Vs.25. The desires of lazy people will be their ruin, for their hands refuse to work. 26 They are always greedy for more, while the godly love to give! 

Desire must be accompanied by diligent action. You have to put in hard work to make your dreams a reality.

Vs.30. Human plans, no matter how wise or well advised, cannot stand against the LORD. 

Again, planning is good but ultimately God’s purpose prevails.

Vs.31. The horses are prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD. 

Preparation is also good but the outcome is from the Lord. 


Proverbs 14

Proverbs-Series

Today we glean some more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Here are a few thoughts from Proverbs 14 in the Message Bible.

 Vs.1. A wise woman builds her house; a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands. 

If you are wise you will build something solid, strong and lasting. A fool tears down whatever they end up building. This is a good leadership challenge. Am I a wise or a foolish leader?

Vs.2. Those who follow the right path fear the LORD; those who take the wrong path despise him. 

When you do what is right you show that you fear God. When you choose to do what is wrong you are despising God – thinking lightly of him or mocking his judgment. No wonder the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (see vs.26-27).

He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him.

Have a healthy fear of God by avoiding evil and walking in integrity. The fear of the Lord provides security, safety and life.

Vs.3. The talk of fools is a rod for their backs, but the words of the wise keep them out of trouble. 

Your mouth will either get you in trouble or keep you from it. Be slow to speak!

Vs.4. An empty stable stays clean, but no income comes from an empty stable. 

Where there is productivity there will be messes to clean up. You can’t have it both ways (no problems/messes and productivity).

Vs.6. A mocker seeks wisdom and never finds it, but knowledge comes easily to those with understanding. 

Your attitude often determines how much wisdom you will acquire.

Vs.8. The wise look ahead to see what is coming, but fools deceive themselves. 

Wise people think and look ahead. They don’t just live for the moment. Anticipate the future before it comes. Fools don’t and often end up being trapped or deceived by their short-sightedness.

Vs.9. Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation. 

Wise people listen to their conscience and respond to guilt appropriately. Fools ignore this important emotion.

Vs.10. Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy. 

Only you alone know the full extent of what’s happening inside of you – whether it is bitterness or joy. 

Vs.11. The house of the wicked will perish, but the tent of the godly will flourish. 

In the longer term, the godly will flourish and the wicked will be destroyed.

Vs.12. There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. 

The right path isn’t always the obvious one. Often it is the path ‘less travelled’ by others. Take the high road, the narrow road and the road less travelled. In the end it will make all the difference in the world! What path are you on – the easy path? Our own heart is deceptive. What often seems right to the natural mind can lead to death.

Vs.15-16. Only simpletons believe everything they are told! The prudent carefully consider their steps. The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with great confidence. 

Don’t be so gullible! Not everything you are told is true or right. Carefully consider everything you hear and think about each step you take. Wise people are cautious. They don’t plunge ahead foolishly. Give thought - careful planning, consideration and contemplation - to everything you do and every direction you take. This is wisdom and prudence.

Vs.17. Those who are short-tempered do foolish things, and schemers are hated. 

Be slow to become angry and you’ll avoid doing foolish things. 

A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless. A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated.

Anger and foolishness go together.

Vs.21. It is sin to despise one's neighbors; blessed are those who help the poor. 

Be someone who helps the poor and needy. Reach out and do them good.

Vs.22. If you plot evil, you will be lost; but if you plan good, you will be granted unfailing love and faithfulness. 

Makes plans to do good! You will receive unfailing love and faithfulness.

Vs.23. Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! 

Be a diligent worker not a busy talker! Don't just talk or think about it. Do it. Hard work brings profit and reward.

Vs.26-27. Those who fear the LORD are secure; he will be a place of refuge for their children. Fear of the LORD is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death. 

Fear God. It will be to you a life-giving fountain (giving you true and satisfying ‘life’) and help you escape from the snares of death (the allurements of sin).

Vs.28. A growing population is a king's glory; a dwindling nation is his doom. 

Here is a good leadership proverb – the glory of a leader is a growing group of followers. In contrast, if they are dwindling, it becomes his doom. Leaders are measured by fruitfulness not just faithfulness.

Vs.29. Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes. 

Here it is again – be slow to become angry (see vs.17)!

Vs.30. A relaxed attitude lengthens life; jealousy rots it away. 

Relax and don’t be so uptight. Chill! It does your life good. Don’t be so intense.

Vs.31. Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who help the poor honour him. 

When we help the poor and needy we honour God. 

Vs.34. Godliness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. 

Influence your nation to become godly. Don’t allow it to become a disgrace.

 


Proverbs 7

Proverbs-Series

Today we glean some more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Here are a few thoughts from Proverbs 7 in the Message Bible.

Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions. Do what I say and you'll live well. My teaching is as precious as your eyesight - guard it! Write it out on the back of your hands; etch it on the chambers of your heart. Talk to Wisdom as to a sister. Treat Insight as your companion. They'll be with you to fend off the Temptress-- that smooth-talking, honey-tongued Seductress. 

Make sure you value instruction and the words of wisdom. Remember them and put them in practice in your daily life.

Watch out for the Temptress – that smooth talking, honey tongued Seductress. Every young person (and older person), is vulnerable, so get your guard up and have your early warning system activated.

As I stood at the window of my house looking out through the shutters, watching the mindless crowd stroll by, I spotted a young man without any sense arriving at the corner of the street where she lived, then turning up the path to her house. It was dusk, the evening coming on, the darkness thickening into night. Just then, a woman met him - she'd been lying in wait for him, dressed to seduce him. Brazen and brash she was, restless and roaming, never at home, walking the streets, loitering in the mall, hanging out at every corner in town. She threw her arms around him and kissed him, boldly took his arm and said, "I've got all the makings for a feast - today I made my offerings, my vows are all paid, So now I've come to find you, hoping to catch sight of your face - and here you are! I've spread fresh, clean sheets on my bed, colorful imported linens. My bed is aromatic with spices and exotic fragrances. Come, let's make love all night, spend the night in ecstatic lovemaking! My husband's not home; he's away on business, and he won't be back for a month." 

Lessons:

  • Don’t be without sense.
  • Don’t go near the house where seduction lives. Avoid all forms of sexual temptation.
  • If you happen to go by there, don’t turn up the path to their house. If you bump into some temptation, turn and run away quickly.
  • At night time you are most vulnerable.

Soon she has him eating out of her hand, bewitched by her honeyed speech. Before you know it, he's trotting behind her, like a calf led to the butcher shop, like a stag lured into ambush and then shot with an arrow, like a bird flying into a net not knowing that its flying life is over. 

Lessons:

  • Seduction is bewitching. Once you even stop to listen you’ll easily be sucked in.
  • Before you know it you’ll be heading off down the slippery slide to sin.
  • It may feel good for a moment, but in the end you’ll suffer for it. You’ve been lured and trapped.

So, friends, listen to me, take these words of mine most seriously. Don't fool around with a woman like that; don't even stroll through her neighborhood. Countless victims come under her spell; she's the death of many a poor man. She runs a halfway house to hell, fits you out with a shroud and a coffin. 

Lessons:

  • This is serious so listen carefully.
  • Don’t mess with seductive people. Don’t even go near where they are or be lured to just have a look.

My how every person, including myself, needs to hear the warnings of wisdom. 

Proverbs tells us to be on guard against seductive people. Don’t be lured by their spell into their trap. If you do, you’ll pay for it.


Proverbs 31

Proverbs-Series

Today we glean some more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Here are a few thoughts from Proverbs 31 in the Message Bible.

Vs.4-7. And it is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine. Rulers should not crave liquor. For if they drink, they may forget their duties and be unable to give justice to those who are oppressed. Liquor is for the dying, and wine for those in deep depression. Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more.

Drinking too much alcohol can be a person's downfall. Either don’t drink at all or be sure to drink in moderation.

Vs.8-9 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are perishing. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.

Look out for the cause of the poor and needy. Stand for justice.

Vs.10-12 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She will not hinder him but help him all her life. 

Oh, the blessing of a wonderful wife! How valuable is she! She can be trusted and she will enrich his life, helping him continually.

Vs.13-16 She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant's ship; she brings her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day's work for her servant girls. She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. 

This woman is a wise home-builder.

Vs.17-19 She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She watches for bargains; her lights burn late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. 

She is also a diligent and productive worker.

Vs.20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. 

She has a heart for the poor and needy.

Vs.25-27 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions. She carefully watches all that goes on in her household and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness. 

Her other character qualities include – strength, dignity, a sense of humour, wise words, kindness, responsibility and diligence.

Vs.28-29 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: "There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!" 

Her children honour her as does her husband.

Vs.30-31 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. 

A woman who fears the Lord is the ultimate value – not charm or beauty. Value her and reward her.


Proverbs 26

Proverbs-Series

Today we glean some more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Here are a few thoughts from Proverbs 26 in the New Living Translation.

Vs.2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an unfair curse will not land on its intended victim. 

Curses can’t affect you unless there is a reason for them to do so – like a ‘foothold’.

Vs.5 When arguing with fools, be sure to answer their foolish arguments, or they will become wise in their own estimation. 

With fools, you can’t win either way!

Vs.11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. 

Fools don’t learn from their mistakes. They keep doing the same thing over and over again without gaining any wisdom.

Vs.12 There is more hope for fools than for people who think they are wise. 

Do all you can to gain wisdom but don’t see yourself as ‘wise’. Keep learning and see yourself as someone with more to know.

Vs.13-16. The lazy person is full of excuses, saying, "I can't go outside because there might be a lion on the road! Yes, I'm sure there's a lion out there!" As a door turns back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed. Some people are so lazy that they won't lift a finger to feed themselves. Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counsellors. 

Lazy people make excuses. Wise people make decisions and take action.

Lazy people sleep away their time. Wise people rise early and maximise the hours of their day.

Lazy people think they have nothing to learn. Wise people are always hungry to learn more.

Vs.17. Yanking a dog's ears is as foolish as interfering in someone else's argument. 

Don’t get involved in someone else’s argument. Avoid triangulation!

Vs.27. If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. If you roll a boulder down on others, it will roll back and crush you. 

In life, we reap what we sow – for good or bad.


Proverbs 19

Proverbs-Series

Today we glean some more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Here are a few thoughts from Proverbs 19 in the Message Bible.

Vs.2. Ignorant zeal is worthless; haste makes waste.

Enthusiasm and passion are terrific but not without knowledge. Energy needs direction and focus. Planning on the front end affects execution on the back end. Ready - Aim - Fire. The 'ready - aim' steps are crucial.  

Vs.3. People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed.

God gets blamed for so many things, yet much brokenness and even evil in the world is simply the consequence of human decision-making. In life, we reap what we sow. It's that simple. Our lives today are in many ways the accumulated result of choices we made yesterday and the choices we make today will determine our future. Decisions, not conditions, determine our ultimate destiny.

Vs.8. Grow a wise heart - you'll do yourself a favor; keep a clear head - you'll find a good life.

A 'wise heart' and a 'clear head' - good advice. That takes time and effort. It also requires solitude and reflection. These can't be developed in the midst of busyness and task addiction. Climb a mountain. Get above the noise and the hustle and bustle of daily life. Connect with God. Review your life. Check the compass (your direction) not just the clock (your speed).

Vs.11. Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget.

Words are powerful. Wisdom follows the old saying: "Engage brain before opening mouth!" Who do you need to fogive today? Tear up those "I owe you" notes. Let it go. You'll be better off.

Vs.16. Keep the rules and keep your life; careless living kills.

God's commands are for our good - not to take the fun out of life but rather for our benefit. Like an owner's manual, we work best when we live God's way. That is true 'holiness' - living life the way God intended it to be lived. 

Vs.17. Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back those loans in full.

The way we treat people, especially the needy, reflects our attitude toward God. Who can you be kind to today? What resources do you have that you could share with someone less fortunate?

Vs.20. Take good counsel and accept correction - that's the way to live wisely and well.

Once again, we hear the timeless advice of the importance of listening to counsel and taking in feedback from others. Who's speaking into your life? Are you listening?


Proverbs 12

Proverbs-Series

Today we continue with more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Here are a few thoughts from Proverbs 12 in the Message Bible.

Vs.10. Good people are good to their animals; the "good–hearted" bad people kick and abuse them.

Animal lovers will love this proverb. It's a good reminder that all of God's creation is good and to be treated with care. 

Vs.11. The one who stays on the job has food on the table; the witless chase whims and fancies.

Diligence leads to blessing. Slowly by slowly wealth is built, along with the character to sustain it.

Vs.12. What the wicked construct finally falls into ruin, while the roots of the righteous give life, and more life.

Never judge life in a moment. Life is a movie not a snap shot. Seasons come and go. Day and night. Good times and bad. In the end, serving God pays off. It really does.

Vs.13. Well–spoken words bring satisfaction; well–done work has its own reward.

Our words can bring life or death. Choose them carefully. Hard work is like sowing good seeds. It always reaps great rewards. 

Vs.15. Fools are headstrong and do what they like; wise people take advice.

Once again, we learn the wisdom of taking advice and listening to others, rather than being stubborn and headstrong.

Vs.25. Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks us up.

Choose to be around people who lift you up, not tear you down. Then do the same for others.

Vs.27. A lazy life is an empty life, but "early to rise" gets the job done.

Diligence leads to reward and enjoyment. You may not be a natural 'morning person' but making an effort to get up a little earlier each day yields good dividends in terms of productivity. Try it!


Proverbs 5

Proverbs-Series

For our first week of ther new year we continue with more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Here are a few thoughts from Proverbs 5 in the Message Bible.

In this chapter, the wise teacher talks to a young man about the dangers of yielding to sexual temptation (see vs.1-23). How relevant this to every generation. God's ways are best for us but sin always appears in alluring ways, promising more than it ever delivers and always leaving us with painful consequences. 

Vs.3-5. For the lips of an immoral woman (or man) are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.

Vs.21-23. For the Lord sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes. An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

Self-control is one of the key character qualities to develop and is a fruit of God's Spirit within us. It includes the development of the ability to delay gratification. To choose short term pain for long term gain, rather than jump to the 'pleasures of sin' which last only for a moment. Look beyond the moment. See the danger ahead.

All sin has consequences but sexual sin affects us like no other. Overeat and you can repent and curb your food intake the next day. Steal something and you can always return it. Sleep with another person's spouse and the impact will linger on well past the moment. That's why we are challenged so strongly to control our impulses.

Beware of fatal attractions! Sexual sin is never a fall but more often a slide. It begins with seemingly harmless words of affection that lead to emotional attachment. Extra time together is sought, inappropriate words and actions follow, and before you know it you pass the point of no return. That's why it's best to develop an early warning system. Don't see how far to the edge you can get. Stay as far away as possible. Establish some habits of purity of thought and action. You'll be glad you did. 


Sacred Words - Devotional Bible Reading

Bible-reading

Every year, we encourage our church to read through the Bible. There are a variety of reading programs available online. In 2015, we will read through the New Testament, as well as the books of Psalms and Proverbs (download the complete reading program). 

There is a great benefit in using a devotional format for Bible reading aimed at hearing from God daily and responding to his leading. The goal is not to just ‘get through’ your Bible reading but to allow God’s Word to ‘get in’ to your heart and life, bringing about personal growth and positive change. 

As you do your daily reading, consider using the following devotional format:

Scripture – write out a verse or two that speak specifically to you today. 

Observation – make a note of what you observe in the text. What was happening back 'there and then'? 

Application – write out how God’s Word applies to your life. What does this mean to you 'here and now'? 

Prayer – write out a prayer of response to what God has said to you. 

You can do this by yourself, with your family, with some friends or as part of your Life Group. As you make your time with God and his Word the priority of your day, you will experience a tangible ‘washing of the Word’ in your heart and life.

P.S. Visit my previous BLOG post on Bible Reading Tools or our church web site for some other helpful resources.


Proverbs 30

Proverbs-Series

The final week of the year is under way and today we glean some more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Here are a few thoughts from Proverbs 30 in the Message Bible.

Vs.8-9. Give me enough food to live on, neither too much nor too little. If I'm too full, I might get independent, saying, 'God? Who needs him?' If I'm poor, I might steal and dishonor the name of my God.

The value of moderation and contentment are reinforced. When is enough enough? There is much more to life than riches. Jesus echoed this warning when he said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15)."

Vs.13. Don't be stuck–up and think you're better than everyone else.

Pride repels people, as does arrogance. In contrast, humility is attractive. Humility is not thinking less of ourselves but thinking less of ourselves less. It acknowledges that God and others play a huge part in anything we achieve or become. 

Vs.24-28. There are four small creatures, wisest of the wise they are: ants - frail as they are, get plenty of food in for the winter; marmots (a coney or rock badger) – vulnerable as they are, manage to arrange for rock–solid homes; locusts – leaderless insects, yet they strip the field like an army regiment; lizards – easy enough to catch, but they sneak past vigilant palace guards.

All of God's creation speaks - stars, burning bushes and animals. Which animal speaks to you today - the ant, rock badger, locust or lizard? God's wisdom is all around us. 

We are told of Solomon that he was the wiser than anyone else who lived at his time. The writer of the historical book of 1 Kings tells us, "Solomon composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen." Notice that wisdom was not just a gift of God that he received without effort but also something he acquired through observation and reflection on God's world.

Slow down a little today. Look around you. Observe God's world. What is he telling you today? 


Proverbs 23

Proverbs-Series

This week's wisdom for life comes to us from Proverbs 23 in the Message Bible.

Vs.4-5. Don't wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself! Riches disappear in the blink of an eye; wealth sprouts wings and flies off into the wild blue yonder.

There is far more to life than money! When is enough enough? I'll never forget going to Africa for the first time with our family back in 2007. We did some ministry there and also visited some orphanages. I'll never forget what one of my children said to me afterwards: "Dad, these people have so little but they are so happy. Back home we have so much stuff but we don't have the same joy." How true. Learn the art of contentment. Be grateful for the breath you are breathing now, for life, for God, for friends, and for meaning and purpose. 

Vs.20-21. Don't drink too much wine and get drunk; don't eat too much food and get fat. Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags.

Too much of anything, even good things, starts to control us and we become dependent, or even addicted, to it. There is wisdom in moderation. What has taken a hold of you lately that you need to break free from?  

Vs.22. Listen with respect to the father who raised you, and when your mother grows old, don't neglect her. 

Mark Twain once said, "When I was young I didn't think my old man knew very much but by the time I'd turned 21 years of age I was surprised how much he'd learned in a few years!" How true. The older we become the more we should appreciate our parents. They weren't perfect but they did the best job they could. Each one of them have a story and the more we understand that story the more we will understand our own story and how they have helped to shape it. Continue to honour and respect your parents through each season of life. Remember, they gave you life. 

Vs.23. Buy truth – don't sell it for love or money; buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight. 

Once again, the worth of wisdom is extolled. What are you pursuing? Wisdom is found in a person, Jesus Christ - the personification of wisdom. The apostle Paul declared, "In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3)." May you find hope, meaning, love, and wisdom in Christ for your life today.


Proverbs 16

Proverbs-Series

It's time to pause and reflect on more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Today we dive into Proverbs 16 in the Message Bible.

Vs.3. Put God in charge of your work, then what you've planned will take place.

It's so easy do life by ourselves and only refer to God when things are going wrong. Instead, choose to start the day with God and include Him is all you are doing. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance. Make Him your Senior Partner.

Vs.10. A good leader motivates, doesn't mislead, doesn't exploit.

Christian leadership expert John Maxwell once said, "Manipulation is when a leader moves people for personal advantage while motivation is when a leader moves people for mutual advantage." That's a good insight for clarifying our motives. 

Vs.11. God cares about honesty in the workplace; your business is his business.

Everything is spiritual and everything is sacred to God. Don't buy into the dualism that talks about the 'secular' and the 'sacred'. Include God in your work and make your environment a place where kingdom values shine through.

Vs.13. Good leaders cultivate honest speech; they love advisors who tell them the truth.

Honesty is always the best policy. Practice truth-telling. Good leaders always start by defining reality. That takes some robust conversations! 

Vs.16. Get wisdom – it's worth more than money; choose insight over income every time.

Once again, the viture of Wisdom is extolled. What did you learn from your experience of life yesterday? What are you doing to gain more wisdom today?

Vs.18. First pride, then the crash – the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

Humble people don't think less of themsleves, they just think of themselves less. Be on the guard for pride. Always recognise that God and others are contributors to any success we achieve in life. 

Vs.25. There's a way that looks harmless enough; look again––it leads straight to hell.

Wisdom involves looking ahead to see long-term consequences of choices and actions. It includes the discipline of delayed gratification. Sometimes that means choosing pain now for pelasure later.

Vs.32. Moderation is better than muscle, self–control better than political power.

How is your level of self-control? Are you able to say 'no' when you need to? If not, what could strengthen that muscle. Try some self-denial, including periods of fasting, which help to train and strengthen our will.


Proverbs 9

Proverbs-Series

We continue to today with insights from our Proverb of the week, Proverbs 9, from the Message Bible.

Vs.4-6. Are you confused about life, don't know what's going on? Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me! I've prepared a wonderful spread - fresh–baked bread, roast lamb, carefully selected wines. Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning.

Once again, Wisdom calls out to us. Will we turn aside? Will we listen and learn? A multitude of voices clamour for our attention. So much noise and so many distractions. How easy to walk on by, to get caught up in the busyness and miss the simplicity of Wisdom. It's our choice.

Vs.10. Skilled living gets its start in the Fear–of–God, insight into life from knowing a Holy God.

The fear of the Lord is the awareness that God is always with us. If we could live with this awareness on a constant basis, imagine how much smarter we would be. Think about how infinitely better our choices would be. 

Vs.11-12. It's through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens, and the years of your life ripen. Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life; mock life and life will mock you.

True Wisdom is seeing life from God's perspective. Knowledge is possession of the facts. Understanding of comprehension of the facts. Wisdom is knowing what to do with what we know. That alone comes from God. Ask for wisdom today. 

Vs.13-18. Then there's this other woman, Madame Whore – brazen, empty–headed, frivolous. She sits on the front porch of her house on Main Street, And as people walk by minding their own business, calls out, "Are you confused about life, don't know what's going on? Steal off with me, I'll show you a good time! No one will ever know - I'll give you the time of your life." But they don't know about all the skeletons in her closet, that all her guests end up in hell.

The Temptress is always at work, seeking to allure us into the dangers of lust. She's so attractive but in the end sin stings and leads to death. Don't take the bait. There's always a hook. Be smart. Walk on by ...


Proverbs 2

Proverbs-Series

Today we continue with our Proverb of the day, Proverbs 2. Reflections are from the Message Bible translation.

Vs. 2. Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding.

We live in a wordy world. TV, radio, social media, reading material and conversations infiltrate our day whether we want to hear them or not, whether we are listening or not. Words from the sacred text of Scripture also call out, offering us wisdom. The Spirit whispers for us to come aside. Will we hear the call? Will we respond? Wisdom waits ...  

Vs.6-8. God gives out Wisdom free, is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding. He's a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well, a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere. He keeps his eye on all who live honestly, and pays special attention to his loyally committed ones.

God created everything and knows everything about everything. Why wouldn't we come to Him for advice about how to live well and as the answer to our many questions? So often other louder voices and brighter lights distract us and capture our attention. Foolishness prevails in our world. Turn to God afresh today. He is the source of life and of wisdom. 

Vs. 11-13. Good Sense will scout ahead for danger, Insight will keep an eye out for you. They'll keep you from making wrong turns, or following the bad directions. Of those who are lost themselves and can't tell a trail from a tumbleweed.

It's been said that we should "live and learn". It is true that we often learn from poor decisions as we reap the painful consequences of unwise choices. Yet why not learn from God's Wisdom and see the ramifications of potential decisions before we make them? That's what the wisdom of Proverbs seeks to impact ... if only we will listen. 

Vs.20. Join the company of good men and women, keep your feet on the tried and true paths.

Who are you hanging out with? Who is influencing you? We often become like the people we spend the most time with. Yes, seek to have a positive influence on all people but make wise people your mentors, models and heroes. You'll be glad you did.


Proverbs 24

Proverbs-Series

As we dig into today's Proverb, let's reflect on the wisdom coming to us from Proverbs 24 in the Message Bible.

Vs.3-4. A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.

What kind of a house are you building? A home takes time and effort to craft but it's worth it in the end. Think about the 'environments' you are creating - at home, at work, at church. Be an architect of places characterised by love, peace and joy. 

Vs.5-6. The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger. So don’t go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many advisers.

Who are your advisers? Who do you look to when you need guidance? Make sure you have a good team of wise people around you. You'll be glad you do.

Vs.10. If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

Someone once said, "Don't pray for an easy life; pray to be a strong person." Strength is developed under pressure - during times of adversity. May you have the inner strength of the Holy Spirit growing in your life so that it is much stronger than any external pressure you may face.

Vs.16. The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.

Failure is NOT final. Fail forward. You may fail but you are not a failure. Live and learn. Rise again. You'll do better next time and be much wiser for the experience. 

Vs.27. Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.

Do you take time to plan? Planning ahead on the front end saves heaps of time on the back end. Remember, "Ready, Set, Go." Don't go until you are ready and set. If we fail to plan we plan to fail. 

Vs.30-34. I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw that it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

Balance your activity and rest. Avoid the extreme of the workaholism that violates the Sabbath principle and leads to burnout. Also avoid the laziness that so easily creeps in and leads to lethargy, indifference and mediocrity.


Proverbs 17

Proverbs-Series

Another week rolls by and we come to our Proverb of the Day. Today it's some wisdom from Proverbs 17 in the Message Bible translation.

Vs.3. As silver in a crucible and gold in a pan, so our lives are assayed by God.

God tests us to see what we are made of. Times of pressure and adversity reveal our true character. Anyone can keep a great attitude during the good times. How do we navigate the challenging times? 

Vs.9. Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and––good–bye, friend.

We all need the gift of 'thicker skin'. Choose not to be easily offended. Don't be touchy or overly sensitive. Most people don't wake up in the morning with a desire to annoy us. Give them the benefit of the doubt and remember that "hurt people hurt people". 

Vs.10. A quiet rebuke to a person of good sense does more than a whack on the head of a fool.

How well do you receive feedback? Other people see aspects about us that we don't. We need their input in order to grow and change for the better.

Vs.14. The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before it bursts.

Little things can easily become big things. When an argument develops, choose to close it down before it gets out of hand. A soft answer turns away anger.

Vs.17. Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.

Be a true friend today. Stick with your friends no matter what - through the good times and bad.

Vs.22. A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone–tired.

Happiness is based on what is happening to us - whether good or bad. In contrast, joy is an internal disposition that is independent of circumstances. Choose to be joyful today. It'll do you and others good. 

Vs.24. The perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard; fools look for it everywhere but right here.

God is at work right where you are. Seek to be more aware of him today and attentive to his voice. Wisdom is right there with you. Open you eyes and ears. Learn - right where you are. 


Proverbs 10

Proverbs-Series

It's time for some reflections from our weekly Proverb and today is the 10th of the month so it's Proverbs 10 (Message Bible). 

Vs.4-5. Sloth makes you poor; diligence brings wealth. Make hay while the sun shines – that's smart; go fishing during harvest – that's stupid.

Life operates on the principle of sowing and reaping. We reap what we sow, there's a period of time between sowing and reaping, and we reap more than we sow. The wise sow diligence into their lives. Diligence leads to blessing, profit and happiness while laziness leads to judgment, loss and disappointment. What are you sowing this week - hard work or idleness? There's a time for activity and for rest. Getting the balance right is essential. 

Vs.9. Honesty lives confident and carefree, but Shifty is sure to be exposed.

Someone once said that if you always tell the truth you never have to remember what you say. Honesty starts in the small things - avoiding exaggeration by giving accurate details and explanations, admiting it when we are wrong, and not twisting things to make ourselves look good. Honesty is always the best policy.

Vs.11. The mouth of a good person is a deep, life–giving well, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse. Vs.19-20. The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words. The speech of a good person is worth waiting for; the blabber of the wicked is worthless. Vs.31-32. A good person's mouth is a clear fountain of wisdom; a foul mouth is a stagnant swamp. The speech of a good person clears the air; the words of the wicked pollute it.

Once again, we learn about the power of our words and the importance of controlling our tongue. Garbage in = garbage out. Feed on wisdom. Fill your heart with good things because out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Choose your words carefully. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Let your words bring life to the hearers today. 

Vs.14. The wise accumulate knowledge – a true treasure; know–it–alls talk too much – a sheer waste.

What are you learning right now - about God, about life, about yourself, about others and about our world? Wise people are never content but are always learning new things. How are you positioning yourself to learn or experience something new today? Is it investing time reading a book, listening to a message, or spending time with a mentor? If your inflow doesn't equal your outflow it will lead to your downfall. 

Vs.17. The road to life is a disciplined life; ignore correction and you're lost for good.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to be 'disciples' = disciplined ones. Each day we are called to take up our cross, die to selfishness, and live for God and others. We are to intentionally put off (or get rid of) the works of the old sinful nature and we put on the new nature which is created to be like Jesus Christ. That takes discipline on our part and the help of the Holy Spirit as our partner and helper in life and ministry.  

Vs.22. God 's blessing makes life rich; nothing we do can improve on God.

Here is a wonderful promise. May you know and experience the fullness of God's blessing and favour on your life today. 


Proverbs 3

Proverbs-Series

Here is some more amazing wisdom from the Book of Proverbs from the Message Bible:

Vs.5-6. Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God 's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.

Life is a journey of faith and wisdom. Getting wisdom, a major focus of the teaching in the book of Proverbs, helps us to think about choices and their consequences, as well as to see life from God's perspective. Faith is the choice to trust God even when we don't understand what is going on or why. Many things in life are beyond our control yet God's hand of providence undergirds everything - our choices, good and bad, as well as the chocies of others that affect our lives. 

Be aware of God and attentive to His voice through the various ways He guides us. He desires for you to be on track even more than you do. Thankfully, the steps of good people are directed by the Lord. He will show which way to take. 

Vs.9-10. Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over.

In an agricultural society, everyone wanted their barns bursting and their wine vats brimming over, just like everyone wants extra cash in hard and money in the bank today. How does this happen? Yes, through diligent work but also as a result of choosing to honour God with the first and best of everything we receive.

I love the simplicity and power of the 10/10/80 Financial Plan:

  • Give 10% of all your income to God's work through the church.
  • Save or invest 10% of all your income.
  • Endeavour to live on 80% or less of your income. If you can't, seek to increase your income or reduce your expenses. This may even require down-sizing your living standards.

If you do this consistently, over time you will be financially free. You will have honoured God, saved for your future and lived within your means. That's wise financial stewardship that God blesses!

Vs.11-12. Don't, dear friend, resent God 's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction. It's the child he loves that God corrects; a father's delight is behind all this.

Choices have consequences. We reap what we sow. When we don't the results we are receiving we need to reflect on the causes. What is God teaching us? What do we need to change? What will we do different next time? Wisdom is a choice to live and learn. Often we learn more from our failures than our successes.

Vs.27. Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God's hand for that person.

Here is God's will for your life. See a need and meet it. Don't be like that priest or Levite who walked by the person who had been beaten and robbed, because they were focused on their religious duties. Get off your donkey and offer a helping hand. God will be pleased and lives will be touched with God's love. Are you ready? 


Proverbs 27

Proverbs-Series

Here is some more wisdom from the book of Proverbs as we begin a new week: 

Vs. 1. Don't brashly announce what you're going to do tomorrow; you don't know the first thing about tomorrow.

Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never come. Today is all we have. Live in the moment and live it to the full. Yes, deal with your past and yes, plan for the future, but not at the detriment of living fully present - right here, right now. God is the God who is (present), who was (past), and is to come (future). He is the eternal I AM. 

Vs.2. Don't call attention to yourself; let others do that for you.

Allow God to run your public relations and marketing division. Don't enter into self-promotion. Let another praise you, not your own lips. Influence comes to those who develop their character and talents - when no one else is looking.

Vs.8. People who won't settle down, wandering hither and yon, are like restless birds, flitting to and fro.

Have an adventurous spirit but make sure you know where HOME is - your family, your friends and your faith community. The righteous are like a tree planted by rivers of water who bear fruit in and out of season. Are you planted?

Vs.9. Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. Vs.17. You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.

Who can measure the value of a true friend? Cultivate close friendships - people who you can be real and honest with. Open, genuine conversation is like a drink of fresh water.

Vs.12. A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.

Look ahead and around you. See what's coming. Don't be naive. Consider the consequences of today's choices and actions. 

Vs.19. Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.

What is your face saying about your inner world? 

Vs.18. If you care for your orchard, you'll enjoy its fruit; if you honor your boss, you'll be honored. Vs.23-24. Know your sheep by name; carefully attend to your flocks; Don't take them for granted; possessions don't last forever, you know. 

Life involves sowing and reaping. What (or who) is your field? What has God given you responsibility over? Look after it well and with care and diligence. Wanting more without doing well with what we have is a mark of immaturity. God sees how we manage what is in our hand right now to see if we are ready for more. 


Proverbs 20

Proverbs-Series

It's time for our weekly proverb again. Today we glean some wisdom from Proverbs 20.

Vs.2. Quick–tempered leaders are like mad dogs – cross them and they bite your head off. It's a mark of good character to avert quarrels, but fools love to pick fights.

Wise people are slow to anger. Take a deep breath. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you patience and the ability to delay your reactions. You'll be glad you did. Anger always gets us in trouble. Of course, it is pride that keeps us there. Is there anyone you need to apologise to today?

Vs.4. A farmer too lazy to plant in the spring has nothing to harvest in the fall.

Life is a process of sowing and reaping. This is the law of the harvest. If we don't so, we won't reap. There is always a delay between sowing and reaping, We always reap more than we sow. What good seed are you sowing today that will bear fruit tomorrow? 

Vs.5. Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart; a wise person draws from the well within.

Counsel and wisdom take time to glean. They are often not on the surface of the situation or the conversation. Go deeper. Dig down. Draw out wise counsel - from the Spirit of God living within you and from good friends and advisers.

Vs.12. Ears that hear and eyes that see - we get our basic equipment from God!

Wisdom comes from listening (opening our ears) and observing (opening our eyes) what God is up to and what is taking place around us.  

Vs.13. Don't be too fond of sleep; you'll end up in the poorhouse. Wake up and get up; then there'll be food on the table

Diligence is the key to progress and fruitfulness. Hard work never killed anyone but it sure pays off.

Vs. 15. Drinking from the beautiful chalice of knowledge is better than adorning oneself with gold and rare gems.

Wisdom (seeing life from God's perspective) is better than wealth. What are you pursuing more right now? 

Vs. 24. The very steps we take come from God; otherwise how would we know where we're going. Vs.27. God is in charge of human life, watching and examining us inside and out. 

We need a balanced view of divine sovereignty ("God is in control") and human responsibility ("I am responsible"). Underneath everything is God's hand of providence. He uses everything, even our mistakes and failures, for his ultimate purpose. I can trust God for that. That helps me sleep at night. He's God. I'm not. That's good news.

Vs.28. Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity.

Here are some good leadership qualities to aspire to and develop today - love for people, truthfulness (honesty) and integrity (meaning there is an integration between what people see and who I really am). 


Proverbs 13

Proverbs-Series

As we continue our reflections on the book of Proverbs, let's look at five proverbs from Proverbs 13 today (from the Message Bible): 

Vs.3. Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin everything.

Our words are very powerful. We need to engage our brain before opening our mouth. Thinking before we speak preserves us from the consequences of words spoken too hastily or without prior thought. Listen more today. Pause before speaking. Let your words be few ... and full of life to the hearers.

Vs.7. A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.

Not all that glitters is gold. Bright lights can be seductive yet deceiving. Many things in life offer far more than they can ever deliver. Could less be more? What does the 'simple life' look like for you? What do you need to offload? Let go of? Stop pursuing?

 Vs.10. Arrogant know–it–alls stir up discord, but wise men and women listen to each other's counsel.

Who speaks into your life? Who do you listen to when it comes to receiving counsel for important decisions? Be open to feedback and different perspectives today. None of us see everything nor do we know all that could be known about a subject or issue. Listen ... and learn.

Vs. 14. The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, so, no more drinking from death–tainted wells.

What are you feeding on? What is going IN to your heart and soul? Garbage IN = garbage OUT. Is it time for a change of diet? What you feed on grows and produces fruit in your life.

Vs.20. Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.

Who is the greatest influence on you? Who is your model? Your hero? Do you want to be like those you hang around? Be a positive influence on others but follow those whose lives are worth imitating.


Proverbs 6

Proverbs-Series

It's time for some more insight from the book of Proverbs as we look at chapter 6 today (from the Message Bible translation): 

A Lesson from the Ant

Vs.6-11. You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy––do you know what comes next? Just this:You can look forward to a dirt–poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest.

Pause and reflect on this insight from one of God's little creatures - the ant. What is God saying to you today about diligence and preparation?

Seven Things God Hates

Vs.16-19. Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family.

God has feelings - passion! What does this list tell us about what God is like as person? If you were to write a list of seven things that God loves, what would be on it? Seek to both know and please God today.

Vs.32. Adultery is a brainless act, soul–destroying, self–destructive.

Adultery, like all sexual sin, is never a fall, it's always a slide. What early indicators or warning signs do you need to be aware of and respond to today? God's ways are always for our good. What are the benefits of sexual purity? Make a choice today to honour God with your sexuality. 


Proverbs 29

Proverbs-Series

It's time for our weekly wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Today we are up to chapter 29 (from the Message Bible translation): 

Vs.1. For people who hate discipline and only get more stubborn, there'll come a day when life tumbles in and they break, but by then it'll be too late to help them.

Do you take feedback seriously and with an open heart? Are you teachable? Do you listen to your critics? Or are you defensive? It's wise to listen and learn ... 

Vs.11. A fool lets it all hang out; a sage quietly mulls it over. Vs.20. Observe the people who always talk before they think – even simpletons are better off than they are.

We all need to engage our brain before opening our mouth. God has given us two ears and one mouth so we should listen more than we speak. Think first. Let your words be few and well chosen.

Vs.14. Leadership gains authority and respect when the voiceless poor are treated fairly.

How you treat the less influential and seemingly less important people defines you. Ultimately, we treat people based on the value we place on them. Jesus treated everyone as if they were a #10. Do the same and see everyone as incredibly valuable to God.

Vs.18. If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

Take time to look and listen to what God is up to. He is a God who reveals himself and his plans to people. Prophetic vision gives purpose and meaning to life.

Vs.23. Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors.

Pride is a bit like bad breath. Everyone else knows someone has it, except the person! Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. Humility is acknowledging that God and others have been influential in anything we have become or accomplished. 

Vs.25. The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.

Someone once said, "If you want to avoid criticism, do nothing!" It's impossible to please everyone all the time. Focus primarily on pleasing God while being sensitive to people, but without being dependent on their approval. 


Proverbs 22

Proverbs-Series

Here is some more valuable wisdom from Proverbs 22 (from the Message Bible translation): 

Vs.1. A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank. 

People can damage your reputation but that can't damage your character. That's your choice. Ultimately, our character, who we really are, shapes a lot of our reputation - what we are known for. So many people focus on acquiring wealth today. There is nothing wrong with money but who we are is much more important. How will you treat people today? Always be gracious ... with everyone you meet.

Vs.3. A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.

Always think ahead. With every decision, consider the possible consequences. Wisdom has foresight and insight. What are the pros and cons, as well as the benefits and downsides of your intended course of action? 

Vs.7. The poor are always ruled over by the rich, so don't borrow and put yourself under their power.

Going into debt for an appreciating asset (such as a house or a good investment) can be a wise move. Most other debt can be destructive, putting us under pressure and taking away our joy. Do you need to create a debt reduction plan today?

Vs.9. Generous hands are blessed hands because they give bread to the poor.

Choose to be a generous person today - with your time, assistance, words and resources. 

Vs.24-25. Don't hang out with angry people; don't keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious – don't get infected.

Who we hang around has a huge influence on who we become. They key is who is the greater influence. Be a positive influence on other people around you today and build key friendships with people who will help you become all God wants you to be.


Proverbs 15

Proverbs-Series

Here is some timeless and timely wisdom from Proverbs 15:

Vs.4. Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.

Words have the power of life and death. Who can you help today through some encouraging or healing words?

Vs.8. God can't stand pious poses, but he delights in genuine prayers.

Prayer is simply honest, open conversation with God. Keep it real.

Vs.9. A life frittered away disgusts God; he loves those who run straight for the finish line.

We have one life to live. This is not a dress rehearsal. Discover your purpose and go for it. You can't be or do everything but you can be and do what God calls to you.

Vs.17. Better a bread crust shared in love than a slab of prime rib served in hate.

Relationships are much more valuable than wealth or riches. What is your focus right now?

Vs.18. Hot tempers start fights; a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.

A soft answer can turn away anger. Be a thermostat that influences the atmosphere rather than a thermometer that merely reacts to the environment. Choose to cool things down when they get a but heated and warm things up when they get a bit cool.

Vs.19. The path of lazy people is overgrown with briers; the diligent walk down a smooth road.

There's a time to rest and a time to work. How's that rhythm and balance of activity and rest going in your own life?

Vs.22. Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed.

Vs.31. Listen to good advice if you want to live well, an honored guest among wise men and women.

Who are your advisors? Do you have wise and experienced people around you who you can bounce your ideas and plans off of? Do you have people who are honest with you? Are you open to feedback?