Devotional Reading for January 28, 2023

Proverbs 8:32-36 “So now, children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction so that you may be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching at my doors day by day, waiting beside my doorway. For the one who finds me has found life and receives favor from the LORD. But the one who misses me brings harm to himself; all who hate me love death.”

We need to be alert and eager for wisdom. We need to seek it out. Wisdom in general gives life, since it keeps us from trouble, but Godly wisdom gives abundant and eternal life. Godly wisdom starts when we believe, is manifested in our lives when we obey, and we receive its rewards perpetually and eternally!

John 10:10 “I [Jesus] have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”

Psalm 112:1 “How blessed is the one who obeys the LORD, who takes great delight in keeping his commands.”

1 John 5:11 “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

Devotional Reading for January 27, 2023

Proverbs 8:22-31 “The LORD created me as the beginning of his works, before his deeds of long ago. From eternity I have been fashioned, from the beginning, from before the world existed. When there were no deep oceans I was born, when there were no springs overflowing with water; before the mountains were set in place— before the hills—I was born, before he made the earth and its fields, or the top soil of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there; when he marked out the horizon over the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above, when he secured the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea his decree that the waters should not pass over his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him as a master craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, rejoicing before him at all times, rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and delighting in its people.”

When we talk about gravity, or laws governing energy, or the science of meteorology, we are really talking about how God made this world and our universe. He made order out of chaos. He used wisdom to bring things into being and to put things in place:

Isaiah 45:18 “For this is what the LORD says, the one who created the sky— he is the true God, the one who formed the earth and made it; he established it, he did not create it without order, he formed it to be inhabited: ‘I am the LORD, I have no peer.'”

Jeremiah 10:12-13 “It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.”

What a display of the importance and place of wisdom! Since God uses wisdom, we should too. Thankfully, He makes wisdom available to us through His Word. We just have to listen!

Psalm 119:97-104 “O how I love your law! All day long I meditate on it. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for I am always aware of them. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your rules. I am more discerning than those older than I, for I observe your precepts. I stay away from the evil path, so that I might keep your instructions. I do not turn aside from your regulations, for you teach me. Your words are sweeter in my mouth than honey. Your precepts give me discernment. Therefore I hate all deceitful actions.”

Devotional Reading for January 26, 2023

Proverbs 8:12-21 “‘I, wisdom, have dwelt with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; I hate arrogant pride and the evil way and perverse utterances. Counsel and sound wisdom belong to me; I possess understanding and might. By me kings reign, and by me potentates decree righteousness; by me princes rule, as well as nobles and all righteous judges. I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me. Riches and honor are with me, long-lasting wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than the purest gold, and my harvest is better than choice silver. I walk in the path of righteousness, in the pathway of justice, that I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, and that I may fill their treasuries.'”

We’re used to “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” but how about “the fear of the Lord is to hate evil”? And evil is defined as pride, arrogance, and perverted speech. Do we hate those things, or do we engage in them? Wisdom not only defines righteous leadership (from kings, princes, and nobles), it also defines righteous living. And it is available to everyone! If we seek after wisdom, we’ll find it. If we love it, it will love and direct us. The fruit of wisdom is avoiding trouble, doing right, and obtaining an inheritance that is better than gold or silver!

Proverbs 8:35 “For the one who finds me has found life and receives favor from the LORD.”

Devotional Reading for January 25, 2023

Proverbs 8:1-11 “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? At the top of the prominent places along the way, at the intersection of the paths she takes her stand; beside the gates opening into the city, at the entrance of the doorways she cries out: ‘To you, O people, I call out, and my voice calls to all mankind. You who are naive, discern wisdom! And you fools, understand discernment! Listen, for I will speak excellent things, and my lips will utter what is right. For my mouth speaks truth, and my lips hate wickedness. All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing in them twisted or crooked. All of them are clear to the discerning and upright to those who find knowledge. Receive my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies, and desirable things cannot be compared to her.'”

Wisdom is available to all, but people don’t pay attention. We need to pay attention and listen! And we are reminded here that wisdom is noble, right, true, righteous, straight, and not wicked or crooked. In fact, it exemplifies everything that Paul reminds us to think about:

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.”

And the best place to find wisdom is the Word of God!

Psalm 19:7-8 “The law of the LORD is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the LORD are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced. The LORD’s precepts are fair and make one joyful. The LORD’s commands are pure and give insight for life.”

Devotional Reading for January 24, 2023

Proverbs 7:21-27 “She turned him aside with her persuasions; with her smooth talk she was enticing him along. Suddenly he went after her like an ox that goes to the slaughter, like a stag prancing into a trapper’s snare till an arrow pierces his liver— like a bird hurrying into a trap, and he does not know that it will cost him his life. So now, sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words I speak. Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways— do not wander into her pathways; for she has brought down many fatally wounded, and all those she has slain are many. Her house is the way to the grave, going down to the chambers of death.”

Sin is insidious and destructive, and the consequences can continue to impact us long after the event. A man in his late 80’s once asked me to come and visit him because he needed some counseling. I had some ideas about what it might be based on my experience, but I was completely wrong. When this man had been a teenager being shipped off to war, he looked at what were considered pornographic images for that day and time. His problem was that, 70 years later, he still remembered those images and couldn’t get them out of his mind. It was taking away his peace and his joy. Unfortunately, that’s a perfect illustration of what sin, and particularly sexual sin, does to us. Guilt, shame, and pain can still affect us years later. In one way or another, it can cost us our lives.

Devotional Reading for January 23, 2023

Proverbs 7:10-20 “Suddenly a woman came out to meet him! She was dressed like a prostitute and with secret intent. (She is loud and rebellious, she does not remain at home— at one time outside, at another in the wide plazas, and by every corner she lies in wait.) So she grabbed him and kissed him, and with a bold expression she said to him, “I have meat from my peace offerings at home; today I have fulfilled my vows! That is why I came out to meet you, to look for you, and I found you! I have spread my bed with elegant coverings, with richly colored fabric from Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink deeply of lovemaking until morning, let’s delight ourselves with love’s pleasures. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a journey of some distance. He has taken a bag of money with him; he will not return until the end of the month.”

Warning: sin comes out to meet us! It doesn’t ever leave us alone. Our culture and even our own minds attempt to lure us into sin. And there is more…

1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.”

How do we prepare for such an onslaught? By filling our minds with wisdom! But not only that, we also need to decide ahead of time as well as in the moment to follow wisdom. Just learning Scripture isn’t enough. We have to be willing to yield to the influence of the Word and the Spirit in our lives.

Romans 6:13 “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

Devotional Reading for January 22, 2023

Proverbs 7:6-9 “For at the window of my house through my window lattice I looked out and I saw among the naive— I discerned among the youths— a young man who lacked sense. He was passing by the street near her corner, making his way along the road to her house in the twilight, the evening, in the dark of the night.”

There are three ideas that this passage caused me to consider. First, it’s very easy to find bad examples in the world. Why should we need to personally experience trouble and distress when all we have to do is look out our windows (so to speak) and we can see the trouble that sin brings? I took a quick peak at the two most prominent news sites on the web and saw stories about human trafficking, abuse, shootings, war, and theft. And, on top of that, we can see what’s happening within our communities and to our family and friends when bad choices are made. You would think that seeing the consequences of certain actions would deter us! Sigh. Unfortunately, that’s not usually what happens. Second, it’s implied that if you are older then you are more mature and you know better than to do dumb things. However, sometimes physical maturity doesn’t equate to spiritual maturity. Hopefully it does in our own lives. And finally, if you are trying to hide your actions (“in the dark of the night”), should you be doing what you are doing? Food for thought…

Devotional Reading for January 21, 2023

Proverbs 7:1-5 “My child, devote yourself to my words and store up my commands inside yourself. Keep my commands so that you may live, and obey my instruction as your most prized possession. Bind them on your forearm; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding a close relative, so that they may keep you from the adulterous woman, from the loose woman who has flattered you with her words.”

This can refer to any sort of Godly wisdom being taught, but certainly refers to the passing on of the Word of God, which is an ongoing command throughout the Bible!

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 “These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind, and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up. You should tie them as a reminder on your forearm and fasten them as symbols on your forehead. Inscribe them on the doorframes of your houses and gates.”

Joshua 1:8 “This law scroll must not leave your lips. You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper and be successful.”

In our day and age we have greater access to the Word of God, as well as teaching about the Word of God, than at any other time in history. But we need to make sure that we take advantage of our opportunities, and that’s why the continual reminder from Proverbs is good. Yes, we should have uninterrupted times of study where we can read, listen, and take notes. But we can meditate on a passage of Scripture throughout the day. We can listen to a sermon while we’re mowing. We can sing along to hymns/praise songs while we are in the car. These are all ways we take the wisdom of the Word of God and bind it on our forearms so that it ends up on the tablet of our hearts!

For contemplation and worship:

Devotional Reading for January 20, 2023

Proverbs 6:27-35 “Can a man hold fire against his chest without burning his clothes? Can a man walk on hot coals without scorching his feet? So it is with the one who sleeps with his neighbor’s wife; no one who touches her will escape punishment. People do not despise a thief when he steals to fulfill his need when he is hungry. Yet if he is caught he must repay seven times over, he might even have to give all the wealth of his house. A man who commits adultery with a woman lacks sense, whoever does it destroys his own life. He will be beaten and despised, and his reproach will not be wiped away; for jealousy kindles a husband’s rage, and he will not show mercy when he takes revenge. He will not consider any compensation; he will not be willing, even if you multiply the compensation.”

When we think of the heartache that sexual immorality, pornography, and adultery cause in our culture today, it shouldn’t surprise us when we read about it so frequently in Proverbs. The emphasis here is on the danger and the consequences that come from engaging in immoral behavior, with a special warning to watch out for a spouse’s revenge! 

As a pastor I’ve dealt with many situations revolving around adultery. Some couples were reconciled, while others ended in divorce, but all were devastated. One instance sticks out in my mind of a serial adulterer who continually fooled around with those he was supposed to be mentoring at work. He eventually lost his job, his family, and ultimately his license to practice medicine. “Can a man hold fire against his chest without burning his clothes?

Don’t be confused about verses concerning a thief. The issue isn’t to compare adultery and theft, but the end results of both when you are caught. In fact, a very interesting comparison may be occurring. You may end up with sympathy for a thief, because he needs food to live. However, that’s not going to help him if he’s caught! If a thief is punished sevenfold, how much more will someone be punished who is caught in adultery?

Devotional Reading for January 19, 2023

Proverbs 6:20-26 “My child, guard the commands of your father and do not forsake the instruction of your mother. Bind them on your heart continually; fasten them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; when you wake up, they will talk to you. For the commandments are like a lamp, instruction is like a light, and rebukes of discipline are like the road leading to life, by keeping you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the loose woman. Do not lust in your heart for her beauty, and do not let her captivate you with her alluring eyes; for on account of a prostitute one is brought down to a loaf of bread, but the wife of another man preys on your precious life.”

“But I’ve heard all of this before!” I know, I know. But in truth, it’s repetition that helps us to learn and to realize the importance of what we’re learning. I believe it’s one reason we have four gospels. While each conveys the life of Jesus in a slightly different way, many of the events are repeated. That helps us to remember them and it helps us to realize that what we’re learning is important. After all, God put it all together for us: “every scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Proverbs repetition should serve as a warning and a guide to us. This is important stuff. We need to pay attention.

So, what do we find in our passage today?

  • We’re reminded of the importance of family in conveying truth.
  • We’re reminded of our need to pay attention to the truth.
  • We’re reminded of the need to mediate on the truth, particularly the truth of Scripture.

Joshua 1:8 “This law scroll must not leave your lips. You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it.”

  • We’re reminded that the truth is our guide and our lamp, and that it keeps out of trouble.
  • And one way it keeps us from trouble is by warning us about the dangers of sexual immorality. What a poetic warning: “the wife of another man preys on your precious life.
  • And we’re again reminded that sin begins on the inside. Although we see with the eyes, lust starts in the heart and the mind.