Thursday, April 26, 2018


Proverbs 20:6-7, 14-18 (ESV)
[6] Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love,
but a faithful man who can find?
[7] The righteous who walks in his integrity—
 blessed are his children after him!

[14] “Bad, bad,” says the buyer,
but when he goes away, then he boasts.
[15] There is gold and abundance of costly stones,
 but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
[16] Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners.
[17] Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.
[18] Plans are established by counsel;
by wise guidance wage war.


Much of this chapter is about words. Words are not always trustworthy. Proclaiming love and faithfully loving are two different things. In the market deceit is a way of life. Haggling is how deals are made. Promises must be verified and guaranteed because people are not trustworthy. Wise counsel is sought because lives are at stake. Words are important, but words must be backed up with action.


It is exciting to be in the presence of a visionary who can paint a picture of the future. It is one thing to get excited about possibilities. It is another thing to be able to bring those possibilities to pass. Too often our words reflect ideas and desires, but they fail to reflect reality. Some deception is intentional, like a shady car dealer. Other deception is not intended but just as destructive, like the visionary who has more ideas than ability, more dreams than resources, and more passion than capability. That individual can sell an idea, but can he or she deliver?


Words are important. We need to careful of the words we speak, and cautious of the words to which we listen. We need to keep our promises. We need to deliver on our word. In a world where perception is reality, the idea of integrity of speech is becoming a lost value. We speak first and think later. We make promises without counting the cost. The downside is that we undermine not only our personal integrity, but the trust of those around us. We become known as the person who talks but doesn’t actually do anything.


 It is better to be faithful than to promise to be faithful. It is better to speak a few wise words than to be constantly insisting that we are wise. It is better to keep our word than to give our word. As believers in Jesus Christ, we follow a God who always keeps his word. May that be true of us as well. Words are important.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Proverbs 19:1-3 (ESV)

[1] Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity
than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.
[2] Desire without knowledge is not good,
and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
[3] When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin,
his heart rages against the LORD.


We have our priorities wrong. We are constantly chasing after wealth, comfort, affluence, and ease. The “easy life” is our pursuit. But God says that there is something better. Poverty with integrity is better than affluence with duplicity and dishonesty. We have television shows that give us a glimpse into the “good life” of wealth and self-indulgence. We dress, talk, and act like singers, actors, and politicians who have no idea what real life is like. Yet somehow, they have become our model of the ideal life. There is a reason we call them idols.


The really incredible thing is that when things don’t turn out for us the way we want, we blame God. We lack wisdom, we ignore his counsel, we set our hearts on earthly things, and then blame him when we don’t get what we want. If we drive over a bed of nails, it is not God’s fault that we get a flat tire. If we constantly live above our means, it is not God’s fault when we find ourselves in debt. If we ignore God’s counsel it should come as no surprise when things go wrong, yet somehow it is God’s fault.


News Flash: God does not exist to make us happy. God desires that we find pleasure in him, but God does not exist for the sole purpose of keeping us comfortable. Jesus said that we would have tribulation in this world. Early believers gave their lives to the truth of the resurrected Savior. Today, we somehow believe that Jesus died to make us happy. “God has a wonderful plan for your life…” What if that wonderful plan involves poverty? Are you okay with that? What if that wonderful plan includes years in prison for your faith? Are you willing to go there? What if that wonderful plan means that you will never see the fruit of your labors because you are asked to lay down your life for the Savior? Are you willing to go there? God does not exist to make us happy.

In our culture of ease and affluence, that is a difficult truth for us to comprehend. Even our churches have bought into this idea. We teach that God wants us healthy and wealthy. But God’s word says that there is something of greater value than wealth and comfort. God wants us wise, discerning, and of godly character. He wants us to walk with humility, generosity, and self-sacrifice. These are the things God values. It is time that we stop blaming God for the consequences of living with wrong priorities. Alfred B. Smith wrote the following words. We would do well to heed them.

With eternity's values in view Lord
With eternity's values in view
May I do each day's work for Jesus
With eternity's values in view

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Proverbs 18:1-2, 22-24 (ESV)

[1] Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
[2] A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.

[22] He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the LORD.
[23] The poor use entreaties,
but the rich answer roughly.
[24] A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.


There are two major themes that run through this chapter, the power of words and the value of good companions. Our words are powerful. They can demonstrate narcissistic self-focus, or humble servitude. They can stir up strife or bring about peace. They can seek knowledge or spout foolishness. They can gain favor and honor, or shame, disgrace, and trouble. As believers our words ought to be expressed in humility. They ought to lift up rather than tear down. Our words ought to reflect Christ in all we do and bring honor to God whom we serve. Too often that is not true. Too often we are more interested in impressing people with what we know than in learning what we do not know. Too often in my life I have spoken out authoritatively telling someone about a place or idea only to discover that they know more about it than I do. Hasty words are the product of a fool. We need to learn to listen.


That is where the right companions come in. Those who are self-absorbed tend to isolate themselves from others either intentionally or unintentionally. Those who are wise surround themselves with wise counselors and learn to see value in the wisdom and experience of others. Those who are all about self like to impress people with their own greatness. Those who are wise understand the difference between companions who are there for what they can get out of you and those who are genuine friends. I recall in grade school a classmate was not particularly popular, so he started bringing packs of gum to school. He passed gum out to everyone and became extremely popular until the gum ran out. But we were not true friends. We just wanted a stick of gum. Kids can be cruel, but adults are no better.


“He who finds a wife finds a good thing” (Prov 18:22). “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov 18:24). By contrast, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (Prov 18:1). Wise words and good companions are closely connected. The Christian life was never intended to be lived alone. It was always intended to be lived in community. That is why good companions are so important. With our words do we build up those around us, or advertise our own greatness? With our words do we tear down and isolate, or serve, build, and heal? Who are the companions you are walking this path of faith with, and how do your words affect them? May God teach us the value of godly companions and words of humility, mercy, grace, and peace.

Monday, April 16, 2018


Proverbs 17:1-3 (ESV)

[1] Better is a dry morsel with quiet
than a house full of feasting with strife.
[2] A servant who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully
and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.
[3] The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
 and the LORD tests hearts.


It’s not about who you are, it’s about who you are. Greatness, success, significance, importance, value – These are all things people strive for. They want to be great. They want to be important or significant. They want to do something of value or be someone that is valued. The problem is that we value the wrong things. It is not about who you are. Greatness is not found in being served over being the servant. Greatness is not found in taking the limelight rather than working in the shadows. Greatness is not found in accolades or acceptance. It’s not about who you are. It is about who you are.


God’s measurement of greatness is different than man’s. People seek greatness externally. God tests the heart. Throughout this chapter the principle that stands out is that true greatness is a matter of the heart. It is not about being a person with money. It is about being a person of character. It is not about being a person who is served. It is about being a person of humility and true wisdom. People with external greatness can still be fools. Servants can be people of great wisdom. It is not about who you are in terms of position or title. Greatness is about character. True greatness starts in the heart. Perhaps that is why we have so few real heroes in our world.


Colossians 3:1 (ESV)

[1] If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. [3] For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. [4] When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Friday, April 13, 2018


Proverbs 16:1-3, 31-33 (ESV)
[1] The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
[2] All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the LORD weighs the spirit.
[3] Commit your work to the LORD,
and your plans will be established.
[31] Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
[32] Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
[33] The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD.


Proverbs 16 is primarily about three significant ideas. First, God is sovereign. “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD” (Prov 16:1). “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Prov 16:33). The chapter begins and ends with statements of sovereignty, and the concept runs throughout the chapter. That raises the question: Do we really believe that God is in control? We like to talk about God’s sovereignty. We like to sing about God’s presence and power. But do we really believe our own words? When things go wrong, can we trust that God is in control? When our car breaks down, when our child gets sick, when our body is wracked with pain, when we lose everything… Can we really say with Job, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21)? Do we really believe that God is sovereign, and that he genuinely cares about us?



The second significant concept in this chapter is righteousness. If we believe that God is sovereign, then we will live out his righteousness no matter what. If we believe that the world is spinning out of control, then our faith wavers, our fear rises, and our righteousness dissipates. We know that, “…all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Is 64:6), and that righteousness is a gift from God (see Rom 5:17). We live out that righteousness by faith. Living in poverty with righteousness is better than having the wealth of deception, lies, manipulation, and violence. “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Prov 16:7). Righteousness brings about favor and peace, but even when we do not see the immediate value of living righteously, it is still better than unrighteousness.


One of the reasons righteousness is of such great value is because of the third significant idea in this chapter. People influence people. Unrighteousness has a way of poisoning everything it touches. “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends” (Prov 16:28). But righteousness brings healing, favor, honor, and peace.


What we believe, and how we live impacts and influences those around us. Do we really believe that God is sovereign? Faith in the sovereignty of God allows us to live out the righteousness of God no matter the circumstances. Living out God’s righteousness brings life, peace, and healing to those whose lives we touch.

Proverbs 16:3, 31-32
[3] Commit your work to the LORD,
and your plans will be established.
[31] Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
[32] Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.


Let us live out the righteousness of God, trusting his sovereignty. Do we really believe that God is good? Then let us commit our ways to the Lord and trust him, no matter what.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Proverbs 15:1-2, 18 (ESV)

[1] A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
[2] The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

[18] A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
Proverbs 15 addresses a number of significant issues, but at the heart of the chapter is this idea of speaking and living at peace with those around us. A quiet heart brings peace. A heart at peace quiets contention. A quiet heart thinks before it speaks. A quiet heart receives instruction and reproof. The heart of the righteous is a heart at peace. It is a heart that thinks before it speaks. It is a heart that is less concerned about self, and more concerned about the hurts and needs of others. It is a heart that is grounded in prayer, and expressed in ways that brings peace, joy, and refreshment to the soul of those around us. It is a heart that has learned to listen well to the Lord and to set its mind on that which comes from him.

Proverbs 15:26-28 (ESV)
[26] The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD,
but gracious words are pure.
[27] Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household,
but he who hates bribes will live.
[28] The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.


The heart of peace is a heart grounded in the fear of the Lord. Fear of the Lord is not a heart cringing in fear. It is a heart that has learned to listen to the instruction of the Lord. It is a heart that recognizes, understands, and rests in the truth that God is great, and we are not. It is a heart of humility. The heart of peace is a heart concerned with the things of God and the needs of others. It is not centered on self.


Too often today the first question we ask it, “What’s in it for me?” We are too concerned about how church services minister to me. We are too distracted by our own needs. We are too obsessed with our own comfort and convenience. We do not live with quiet hearts. God forgive us. We preach the Good News but fail to live it. We preach faith but fail to believe. We preach God’s peace but fail to embrace it. The heart of peace is a heart that both experiences, expresses, and exports the peace of God. It is time to take our eyes off ourselves, set our hearts on God, and live in his peace.

Monday, April 2, 2018


Proverbs 14:14-16 (ESV)
[14] The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways,
and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
[15] The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
[16] One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and careless.

Proverbs is filled with lessons that would take a lifetime to learn, but at the heart of all the truths in chaptern14 is this one issue: Right behavior starts with good character. The one theme that runs through the whole chapter is that what we do starts with who we are. It’s about the heart first.


There are three primary approaches to determining ethical behavior. Rules based ethics says that God set the rules and expects us to keep them. Ethical behavior is determined by God’s rules. We are not responsible for the consequences of our actions. That is God’s responsibility. We are only responsible to do the right thing based on God’s revealed rules. The Pharisees lived by rules-based ethics.


The second approach to ethics is character-based ethics. Those who hold to this approach insist that God is not so concerned about the rules. He is concerned with who we are from the heart. He wants us to be people of character. They point to Jesus statement, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27). He had been challenged by the rule keepers because his disciples were breaking the Sabbath rules. Jesus pointed them back to when the High Priest gave King David bread to eat that, according to the law, was to be eaten only by the priests. He then concludes with the statement about the Sabbath being made for man. Jesus appears to be more concerned about character of the heart than about rules.


A third approach is called Consequentialism. It says that ethical behavior is based on the consequences of our actions. If bad things result, then our action was unethical. If good things result, then our choice was an ethical one. This is often used to justify behavior that God’s rules forbid. Its strength is that it is not only concerned about what we do, but about how our choices and actions affect others. Its weakness is the same, for how can one determine how things will turn out?


This discussion could become a whole book to be written, so let me shorten the discussion for the sake of time and space. Proverbs, along with Jesus’s teaching, seems to indicate that God is concerned not only with what we do, what with the condition of our heart. God’s rules are not just random rules, nor are the rules put in place by a callous and inconsiderate God. His rules reflect his nature, character, and intended purpose in creation. God is also, however, concerned about the consequences of our actions. Rule keepers without a heart can become self-righteous and uncaring. The consequences of their actions are not their concern. They are only concerned with keeping the rules.


I would argue that God is concerned with all three. According to Jesus life and teaching, God is first concerned with what kind of person I am. He is concerned with my character, my heart. Secondly, God is concerned about his rules because they reflect his nature, character, and purpose. But, God is also concerned with consequences. If I do the right thing for the wrong reason, I cannot call that ethical. If I do the wrong thing for the right reason, I cannot call that ethical either. If I do a right thing for the right reason, but the result is unloving and harmful, I need to rethink what I am doing. Perhaps there is another way to do the right thing for the right reason that embraces love, gentleness, and humility. After all, God cares about people even more then he cares about his rules. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27).


Proverbs 14 teaches wise behavior, but first it teaches godly character. At the heart of all the truths in the chapter is this one issue: Right behavior starts with good character. The one theme that runs through the whole chapter is that what we do starts with who we are. It’s about the heart first. “Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding” (Prov 14:33).

Isaiah 50

Isaiah 50:4-7 (ESV) The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him w...