Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thurs. Devo - Constructive Criticism

Read Pro. 15:10-12
Why is it so hard to take criticism without being defensive? It would be easier if we just took it and learned from it instead of having to take up for ourselves. We have this thing called pride that keeps raising its ugly head and letting itself be known. God said that he corrects and chastises those he loves. We do that to our kids. It takes time and patience to stay on top of what our kids are doing and correct them when they miss the mark. That is how God feels. He wants us to be promoted and grow so he can give us more responsibility so he chastises us when we go astray. It is his great love for us just as it is our great love for our children that we correct them. We take it so personally when we should take it gladly as a gentle prod to get us back on the right track.
Verse 10 says that if we hate reproof then we will die. I wonder if that is why some people die young? If we are bent on living our own way the Bible says that he will destroy our body to save our soul. The next verse says that God is always beholding hell and destruction so how much more does he look at hearts. It is our heart that determines where we go in eternity. It is the only thing that God sees when he looks at us.
The last verse says that a scorner will not appreciate being reproved nor will he look for wise council. This is the story of man: he wants to be in control. This is also the story of God: he wants to be in control. He has the better view, and is wisdom so it makes sense to do life his way and if we are his children it is the only way that will work. What I love about God is that he knows just how to show us we need him.
Lord, remind us of your great love for us and may we surrender all to you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wed.'s Devo - Our House

Read Pro. 15:6-9
Our "house" is our body. Our spiritual house is full of treasure because we are God's house and his house is arrayed with gold and silver and beautiful things we can't imagine. Our lips are the doors to our house that open up and share the treasures inside. Everything we do comes out of what is inside us so our prayers delight God because they come from his treasure inside us. The more we share the treasure we have in our earthen vessel the more he can fill it back up with greater things.
The foolish have no treasure but they are full of death and ruin so that is what comes out of their mouth and their walk. Everything they try to produce is an abomination to God because of the source. If the seed is bad, then the whole plant will be bad. That is why we see people that are bent on evil and seem to have no conscience. The Bible says that they wake up looking for any other way they can do something wicked.
"We are all the children of the light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." I Thess. 5:5. Let's walk as children of the day and share the treasure that is within us.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tues.'s Devo- Deflecting Arrows

Read Pro. 15:1-5
We have all had people attack us and it is not comfortable. Words are so very important and carry power. We can deflect the enemy by speaking tenderly when he tries to make us mad. Our arrow is a soft answer. It unarms the enemy and calms the atmosphere. To respond in like manner is to play the devil's game and he is better at his game than we are. He is the master of argument but he doesn't know what to do with kindness. We can use our tongue for death or life. Those who chose to walk in the spirit will speak knowledge rightly and their words will bring life and healing. God has surrounded us with people that speak the truth and can instruct us in righteousness. The fool stirs up anger, speaks foolishly, and is perverted in every sense. Fools despise instruction and demand on doing things their way. God is all knowing and omnipresent. He watches and sees everything and he deals with justice and righteousness with everyone.
One place where we have the hardest time with our temper is in our car. I have had people flip me off, yell at me and get way too upset over small things like pulling out in front of them and making them slow down for a second. But, I love to smile at someone who does that to me and give them grace. Why are we in such a hurry to be the first one to the red light? We major on the minors. I do believe in being a conciderate driver and some times I understand why the other guy might be upset with me but we need to lighten up and learn to be courteous and gracious. One second of our time might mean sharing or losing your testimony.
Lord, give us your grace to slow down and speak softly. Make us conscious of what we say and what we do. Our lives are your testimony and we want to honor you in all that we do.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mon.'s Devo - A Wise Friend

Read Pro. 14: 32-35
Proverbs is the book of wisdom. Verse 33 says that wisdom will rest or settle down in the heart of the person that has understanding. There is something very peaceful about that statement. The only way to get understanding is to read the Bible and ask God for eyes to see. Understanding and obedience bring wisdom automatically. Wisdom cultivates righteousness which raises up a nation. The last verse says that we will have the favor of God if we have wisdom because to have wisdom you had to have read the Word, meditated on it, sought God's ways and lived them. That makes us a friend of God. He is looking for friends he can trust with his secrets and treasures. He doesn't give them to everyone but only those who have proven trustworthy.
Lord, may we seek your understanding and your ways with all our hearts. We want to be found worthy of your friendship.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fri.'s Devo - Mercy for the Poor

Read Pro. 14:31
This scripture reminds me of last Sat. I was meeting a friend for lunch at Panera Bread. I got there first and was standing by the door waiting when a lady came in with steel crutches. She must have had polio as a child. I found myself looking her right in the eyes and saying, "hey, how are you?" She smiled and we instantly connected in the spirit. I knew she was a sister in the Lord and she knew I was. She ordered and sat down and my friend showed up and we ordered. The place was pretty busy but I looked and saw the lady mouthing something to me with a distressed face. I realized that she had gotten situated with her soup and her spoon was really dirty. She asked me if I would go get her another spoon and I told her I would be glad to. When I brought it to her she held my hand in hers and thanked me. It turned out she was sitting next to us so I talked to her till my friend sat down. She was the poor. Poor in the Hebrew means "weak, thin, needy, dangling". She was weak and the spirit of God in me met her need. It was a great feeling to reach out to someone who truly needed my help even if it was to just get a spoon and be friendly. We honor God when we do that. To ignore people who are needy is a reproach to God because he made them and loves them just as much as he loves us. We who have been given much are to give much.
Lord, help us to honor you in the way we see your people. Show us who the poor are so we can meet their needs.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thur.'s Devo - My Birthday!

Today is my birthday so I am going to deviate from the study of Proverbs and talk about something on my heart. Our pastor just finished a series on joy where we went through the whole book of Philippians. Our community group is talking about Philippians 4:8. In fact the book we are using is called "4:8". Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." The book gives you practical things to do to get joy in your life. I agree that we have to train ourselves in righteousness and the things of God because they do not come natural to us and these exercises are a good reminder for changing bad patterns. But joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. An apple tree does not need to do apple-producing exercises to produce apples. It will just do that naturally if it is well fertilized and planted in good soil. The same is true about us. Ps. 1 says that if we don't walk the walk of sinners, and we don't sit around complaining about everything but are thankful and our delight is in Him then we will be like a tree planted by the water and we will bring forth fruit in season. If we plant ourselves in the Word and do what it says and love and delight in God then joy will be a natural fruit that we produce. Interestingly the tree never prunes itself - the gardener does. The gardener is the Holy Spirit. He is responsible for cutting off the things that don't benefit our walk with God. We just need to stand where we are planted and spread our limbs. God does the rest.
Lord, remind us to rest in you today and to cease from trying to be perfect but to praise the Perfect One. May we think on things that are honest, lovely, good news, virtuous, and praiseworthy - that is a perfect description of You!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wed.'s Devo - Brittle Bones and Healed Hearts

Read Pro. 14:30
A person who has a heart that has been healed and is whole will not envy or be jealous. A healed heart can love without fear of being hurt or rejected. A whole heart is what we are to love God with and anything less of that is not the best. The person with a cured heart can help someone else be whole. Having a healed heart keeps you healthy in every other area of your life. Your emotions play a big part of your physical health. You can link every illness with an emotion and the Bible is the source of those remedies. This verse says that if you have envy it will cause your bones to be decayed and rotten. That will cause them to break easily. If you have brittle bones that are easily broken then maybe you need to deal with the sin of envy. It is hard not to compare yourself with others who have seemingly been given more, but the best rewards and things you can be given are wisdom, understanding, love and peace. They all come from God. Material things are just that - material. The things God gives are eternal. They go on into the next life. They are worth more than gold or silver so don't compare yourself to others but press into God who is the source of everything good.
Lord, we look to you to heal our hearts and cleanse us of envy and jealousy. Give us an insatiable hunger for the more weightier things like a pure heart.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tues.'s Devo -Slow to Wrath

Read Pro. 14:29
"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy." Ps. 103:8 God's nature is patience and grace and we are to have the nature of God. If you are tempted to be upset and angry but instead of letting it out, you wait and meditate on God, then he can calm your spirit and show you insight about the situation. For me, God usually shows me why a person acted that way and how I have acted the same way in similar situations. That is enough to humble me and shut me up and keep me from blowing it by acting out. When I don't stop and consider God then I always regret it. I do something hasty and have to eat the fruit of my impulsiveness. God is slow to wrath because he sees the whole picture and he will wait a long time to give a person time to repent. He knows that one day he will sit in judgment and all will be judged according to their deeds. So noone gets away with anything unless they are covered with the blood of Jesus. Even if you are covered you will reep the rewards of your deed on earth.
To be hasty is to exalt folly. In other words, if you react you are not following God so you must be exalting darkness. The devil loves to trick us into worshiping him and one way we do that is by reacting out of our emotions instead of out of our faith toward God.
Lord help us to love mercy and grace, be slow to anger and choose to show mercy just like you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mon.'s Devo - Advancing the Kingdom

Read Pro. 14:28
Kings all want the same thing: power over a multitude of people. That is why kings are not satisfied with just their kingdom, they want to take someone else's kingdom. They want to rule more people and have more influence which will give them more honor. But if a king's kingdom is small then he has little influence. This is not good for the prince who will soon be the king because he knows that other kings will try to conquer his little kingdom and he will probably fall. This is the way it is in God's kingdom. He wants all the power and all the people but he has an enemy who wants the same thing: Satan. We, as subjects in his kingdom should not be satisfied with the kingdom as it is, but we should want to take people from the kingdom of darkness into our kingdom of light. We should be advancing God's kingdom on the earth. Jesus came preaching "Repent because the kingdom of God is near." They just didn't realize how near it was. We, like Jesus, carry this kingdom inside of us.
Lord, teach us what it means to carry your kingdom inside us.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fri.'s Devo - Our Living Testimony

Read Pro. 14:25-27
If our testimony is built on Jesus, then our lives will draw people out of bondage and into freedom. When I first moved to Monroe I met a neighbor who wasn't a Christian. I rarely spoke of Jesus but just lived my testimony. One day she came over crying and said that she knew I had something she didn't have and wanted it. I was so nervous but I somehow muddled through something that changed her life. She now knows Jesus and has become a Christian.
When Jesus becomes your Lord then you have a confidence that you don't even realize you have. Your confidence is not about the here and now, it's about the future. You don't worry because you know your God. You carry the fountain of life that everyone is looking for. God is a refuge for his children and anyone who comes to him. He is the life both now and forever. There are people who are the walking dead. They are only alive physically but their souls are dead and they only exist. We have the transfusion they need and it is the blood of Jesus.
Lord, help us to live our lives as a testimony of who you are.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thurs.'s Devo -Riches

Read Pro. 14:23-24
Proverbs makes it clear over and over that you can't just sit around and expect to get rich. You must work for it. Riches are the reward of those who are wise and we have learned that the only people who are wise are those who follow God and his leadership in their business. You can have great plans but if your plans stay as plans they won't benefit you. It is like having faith without works. To ask God to heal you then act like you are still sick is not faith. Faith is praying, then acting on the prayer as if what you prayed for happened. Your works will expedite your results. What about those who are foolish and still get rich. All I can say about that is that it will not give them the joy and satisfaction they were looking for and it will be a curse instead of a blessing. I was reading about Ben Affleck in the paper yesterday and he was telling about his life. He was raised by a foster parent and when he became famous he went wild. He ruined his reputation and fell but now has mellowed and realized what is important in the world. He seems happy and settled but he will never know real joy and real peace till he knows Jesus. He did find that riches could not satisfy him.
Lord make us a people who desire you above all the riches of the world; you are truly the greatest riches of all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wed.'s Devo - Devises of Evil and Good

Read Pro. 14:22
It has always been a mystery to me why God would want to kill so much in the Old Testament and then totally change and want to save in the New. God raised up Noah to build a boat so he could destroy the people of his day. Many of the people of his day were the half demon, half human creatures that were the result of the sons of gods (angels) coming to earth and having sex with the daughters of men. (Gen. 6) He told Joshua to go into the promised land and kill all the inhabitants of the land. Why didn't he tell Joshua to go in and convert them? Then I looked at the origin of these people. The Ammorites and the Moabites were the results of Lot's daughters having sex with him. So the seed of these people was incest. We now know that incest causes all types genetic problems physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So this whole generation of people were the result of a curse. There were also giants in the land. I looked up giants in the Hebrew and it means a feller, that is, a bully or tyrant. A feller is a person who makes another one fall or die. These were the inhabitants of the promised land so is this why God says to destroy them and build up a new race that would follow him? I don't think so because I look at the line that Jesus came from and it is full of prostitutes, murderers, deceivers, etc. I don't understand God's selection but, I do know this, that God IS the same and he doesn't change even though his covenant with his people did after the priesthood changed from man to Jesus. God has always had the same plan which is to save ungodly men who don't deserve it by his grace.
So the verse today says that the evil create evil and the good produce mercy and truth. So we who know Jesus and are chosen to be his people and should be people of mercy and truth. Lord, let it be so in us.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tue.'s Devo - Mercy to the Poor

Read Pro. 14:20-21
Another definition for poor is needy. We might not know many poor people but we all know people who are needy. They may have all the money they need but are still needy. Needy people are draining and few people want to be around them unless they too are needy. But then the next verse says that if you utterly despise your neighbor it is a sin. So, if our neighbor is needy we must love them with healthy boundaries. Everyone loves a person who is emotionally stable. That person can have mercy on the poor and not let theirselves feel responsible. When Jesus walked the earth he didn't try to right all the injustices in the world, he just tried to right the injustice in the church. The only people he came down on were the piously religious. He didn't give out money, he gave out love and healing and salvation. His concern was the inner man, not the outer one.
Lord, help us to freely give your mercy to the poor and have proper boundaries. Help us to concentrate on the higher gifts like salvation and love.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mon.'s Devo - Discernment

Read Pro. 14:15-19
To be gullible is not wise. 1 John 4:1 says, "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world." When Jesus sent his disciples into the world to evangelize he told them to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." He wanted them to have the slyness of a wicked person yet keep the integrity of the innocent. We are to be wise as far as the world goes but not be tainted by their trickery. We don't play their games. If we remain transparent and truthful and there will be no way their lies can stick.
The ungodly are not only gullible but they can not control their temper so they act foolishly. They are arrogant and think they know the answers to life but one day every knee is going to bow before Jesus and proclaim him King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The wise man who fears and worships God will be surrounded with wisdom. He will have discernment to know good from evil and will have the heart to choose the good.
Lord, surround us with your wisdom and may we be a beacon to those who have lost their way.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fri.'s Devo - Reaping and Sowing

Read Pro. 14:14
This is just another way of saying you reap what you sow. If you stray from Jesus and fall into a life of sin you will reap the seeds you are sowing. If you live a life of promiscuity and end up pregnant and then turn to the Lord for help, He will help you but you will still be pregnant. The seeds you sow will sprout and produce a harvest. But the same goes for the reverse: if you live a life of righteousness you are planting good seeds and these will grow into good things and will bless you and others. What you produce is always larger than the seed. That is why the things we instill in our children will be much greater in their lives than in ours. I pray that my children will go much further than Dave and I have in the spirit because they are the product of the seed we have sown.
This verse says that "the backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways." This tells me that he never had a heart for God; his heart was to stray away. Was he ever "saved"? I don't know; but I do know that the scripture says, "those who endure till the end will be saved."
Lord, help us to sow seeds of righteousness so that we might reap souls for your kingdom.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thurs.'s Devo - Sorrow to Joy

Read Pro. 14:13
Have you ever heard pain in someone's laughter? Or have you ever laughed when deep down you felt pain? We all have at some time but the scripture today is talking about a person who does not trust God as his Lord. He can find no happiness or fulfillment in life. It all ends in sorrow and heaviness. I was reading in Revelation 20 today and it was talking about what is going to happen after Millennium. There will be the final judgment day where the books will be opened and all will be judged. The ones who rejected Jesus on earth and have died will have to die a second death in the lake of fire. This lake of fire is a fiery lake of burning sulfur. It says that they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. What a terrible ending. But, we who have chosen to follow Christ the second death has no power. God will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things will be gone forever. Everything will be made new.
Lord, help us to keep the big picture in mind as we go about our day. Remind us that people all around us need to hear the good news and have their sorrow turned to joy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wed.'s Devo -The Right Way

Read Pro. 14:12
The best plan man can come up with only leads to death. Only Jesus can give us eternal life. Our plans may seem wise and right but if they aren't God's plans they may seem to work for a while but in the end they will only die. I am reading in Jeremiah and Jeremiah keeps prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem and the takeover by the Babylonians. God told Jeremiah to tell King Jehoiakim to surrender to the king of Babylon or he would burn the whole city to the ground and kill them. Jeremiah sent his written prophecy to the king and as soon as the reader would finish a sentence the king would have it cut out of the parchment and thrown into the fire as if his burning it would kill the word on it. God told Jeremiah to write it again and add all the terrible things that would happen to the king if he didn't surrender to the Babylonians when they came. Sure enough he died before Jerusalem was captured but his son was king by then and when the Babylonians came he tried to escape. He was caught and tortured and taken to Babylon in chains just as Jeremiah had prophesied. You can not fight what God has decreed. God's ways are perfect even if they aren't comfortable.
Lord, help us to know your plans and trust them even if we don't understand them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tues.'s Devo - God's Tabernacle

Read Pro. 14:11
I find it interesting that the wicked has a house and the righteous has a tabernacle. The word "house" in the Hebrew refers to a family and their residence; something built where a tabernacle is a covering or tent that shines from a distance and is conspicuous. The whole house and family of the wicked will be destroyed one day where the testimony and life of the upright will break forth and spread. Matthew writes that we are to be lights and a city set on a hill so all can see. God literally does that for those he wants to use to show the world his glory. We are an extension of his glory and he will set on high those who know his name (Ps. 91:14). In the Old Testament feasts the last feast was the Feast of Tabernacles. During this time of celebration they were to build booths of branches and spend the week sleeping in them. They would lay and look at the stars through the branches and talk to their families about heaven. The booth was to represent the temporary home they live in on earth as they gazed at their eternal home in heaven. God longs to tablernacle with his people and make their hearts his home.
Lord, may we spend our days building an eternal home with you that you can raise up on high and show your glory to the world.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mon.'s Devo - The Joy of the Lord

Read Pro. 14:10
Jesus said of the woman caught in adultery: "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." We know and appreciate forgiveness when we realize we are sinners. We appreciate freedom when we have been in bondage and we appreciate joy when we have known sorrow. Everyone understands joy by the experiences of their own life so it is individual to all of us. Noone can understand exactly what we have been through but God gives us joy because of it. And noone can steal our joy. They can change our circumstances and make our lives sorrowful but joy is not based on anything earthly, it is eternal and cannot be taken away. It is the strength that allows a person to become a martyr. It is the strength that puts fortitude into our smile. It is one of the greatest things that separates us from the world and can be a powerful witnessing tool. So let the light of your joy rub off on someone who is depleted.
Lord, your joy is our strength!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fri.'s Devo - Remaining Trustworthy 9-3-10

Read Pro. 14:5-9
Someone who has been established as being trustworthy will not lie, but a person who is used to deceiving people will instigate lies. Those who mock righteousness will not be able to find wisdom even if they seek it but the righteous person who is hungry for truth will find it. So what do we do if we find ourselves talking to a prideful person who cannot tell the truth? We are to get away from him. His goal is deceit and compromise so he has nothing of worth to us. If we choose wise companions then we will walk in God's favor doing God's will. What do we do if one of these people that cannot tell the truth is in our extended family and we have to see them from time to time? Then you have to know that God has chosen you to be salt to them. You don't agree with their lies but replace them with truth or just be silent. I have found that if I don't "play their game" and get caught up in their drama then there is no "game" or drama. Our enemy is not flesh and blood but powers and principalities in high places and they are trying to get us to compromise our witness. If you don't give them the time they hate it and eventually leave you alone.
Lord, we want to walk in your favor which means walking in righteousness. Give us wisdom to walk among the foolish and let your testimony shine forth.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thur.'s Devo - Mess Up the Crib

Read Pro. 14:4
I love this Proverb. If you want a simple clean life then don't involve people in your life. Don't have friends because they will one day disappoint you. Don't have kids because your house will be a constant disaster zone and don't get married because that really complicates a perfectly controlled life. You WILL have a clean crib. But if you want to accomplish anything great, grow in your own personal walk, or learn to be unselfish, giving and loving, then learn to welcome people, along with all their mess, into your life. They will increase your strength and help you carry your heavy burdens. They will help you move out or move in and walk with you in your hard times and hold you up in prayer. They will teach you the skills they have and help you become a better you. They will add much more lasting things to your life than a safe people-free life could ever grant you.
Lord, help us to choose relationships over comfort. After all, a relationship is why you sent your son to die for our sins. You long to reconcile us back to you.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wed.'s Devo - The Path of the Righteous 9-1-10

Read Pro. 14:2, 3
Our walk determines if we fear and love God or if we hate him. If we walk uprightly then we fear him and all will see our testimony they will know that we fear God. What comes out of our mouths will also be a hedge around us to save us from the penalty of sin. God always protects and honors those who fear him. God much prefers to bless us and have mercy over us than to punish us and pronounce judgment. If we depart from God then our testimony will not glorify God. Our speech will be all about ourselves and what we can do instead of what God has done for us. I was reading today in Jeremiah and God was telling Jeremiah how far Israel had gone from walking with him so he was going to destroy it, in fact, all Jeremiah is God's warning of impending doom over Israel. But in chapter 18 he says that if he announces that a certain nation or kingdom is to be destroyed, buy then that nation renounces its evil ways, He will not destroy it as he had planned. But he also says that if he announces that he will plant and build up a certain nation, but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey him, he will not bless it as he said he would.
Lord, we want to be a nation that turns to you and honors you and your word. Turn your children's hearts back to you and may we humbly acknowledge you as our creator and master.