Devotional Reading for January 18, 2023

Proverbs 6:12-19 “A worthless and wicked person walks around saying perverse things; he winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, and points with his fingers; he plots evil with perverse thoughts in his heart, he spreads contention at all times. Therefore, his disaster will come suddenly; in an instant he will be broken, and there will be no remedy. There are six things that the LORD hates, even seven things that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift to run to evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who spreads discord among family members.”

Verses 12-15 are almost like an introduction to the seven things the Lord hates. We’re told not to be a wicked person, because bad things will happen to us. Some of those bad things could be because the Lord wants to discipline us, but much of the bad will come because we’re being stupid! A wicked person lies. A wicked person wants to cause conflict. A wicked person makes accusations and spreads innuendo, sometimes without even speaking! Have you ever seen the consequences of those actions come back against the ones doing them? Don’t be a wicked person!

And that brings us to the seven things that the Lord literally abhors:

  • Being proud instead of humble.
  • Lying, instead of telling the truth.
  • Violence against the innocent (like the unborn?).
  • Meditating on evil, instead of on good (specifically on God’s Word, as we read elsewhere).
  • Acting out those evil thoughts.
  • Lying again, but this time specifically about others (with reference to the courtroom).
  • Causing conflict in the midst of God’s people (for us, the church).

Psalm 1:1-2 “How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers. Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the LORD’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night.”

Devotional Reading for January 17, 2023

Proverbs 6:6-11 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; observe her ways and be wise! It has no commander, overseer, or ruler, yet it would prepare its food in the summer; it gathered at the harvest what it will eat. How long, you sluggard, will you lie there? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to relax, and your poverty will come like a robber, and your need like an armed man.”

Some may look at this passage of Scripture and say, “Gotcha!” Ants have a queen. The Bible is wrong! First of all, you’re missing the point. Second, there may be more truth to what we read here than you realize. Yes, when ants colonize, they have a queen. However, she has one job to do: lay eggs. She doesn’t actually direct anything. The ants just know their roles in the community, and they work together. Hmm, perhaps yet another illustration for us…

Regardless, the point of this passage is to provide observational truth. You look down. You see ants scurrying around. You never know how many there are because they disappear into the ground, but they never seem to stop moving. They work hard! And that is the point here. Don’t be lazy, be industrious. Being lazy leads to poverty. And this is just the beginning. Laziness vs. industry is another theme that we’ll return to in Proverbs!

2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 “For we hear that some among you are living an undisciplined life, not doing their own work but meddling in the work of others. Now such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and so provide their own food to eat.”

Devotional Reading for January 16, 2023

Proverbs 6:1-5 “My child, if you have made a pledge for your neighbor, if you have become a guarantor for a stranger, if you have been ensnared by the words you have uttered, and have been caught by the words you have spoken, then, my child, do this in order to deliver yourself, because you have fallen into your neighbor’s power: Go, humble yourself, and appeal firmly to your neighbor. Permit no sleep to your eyes or slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from a snare, and like a bird from the trap of the fowler.”

Is being a cosigner for someone else on a loan always bad? Probably not, but you have to take into account the situation, the personalities of the people involved, and what will happen if the person defaults on the loan. Remember that Proverbs often deals with probabilities (things that are usually true). In general, it’s not a good idea to guarantee someone else’s debt. Being generous is something different. Being generous involves giving something directly to the person without expecting to be paid back. Becoming a pledge for someone else means that you could be paying back their debts for a considerable amount of time, which could have serious consequences for your family. This theme of not guaranteeing another’s loan is something that we’ll see repeated in Proverbs.

My wife and I have had opportunities throughout the years to cosign some loans. We’ve done some, and not others, depending on the circumstances. We’ve tried to be very discerning! Fortunately, we’ve never had an issue, but we have learned that personally loaning money is not wise. Sometimes repayment is an issue, and it affects relationships. Now we’re much more likely to give than to loan money or to cosign.

Sermon outline for 1/15/23 (Radio broadcast 1/22/23) — “Paul Shows us How to Pray”

“Paul Shows us How to Pray”
Ephesians 3:14-21

I) The revelation of God’s ____________ should move us to pray

     A) When we pray we should recognize God’s 
        ________________

     B) When we pray we should recognize God’s 
        ___________

     C) Our new __________ gives us great 
        opportunities for prayer

II) How should we pray for other ______________?

     A) We pray for them to be _______________ by 
        the Spirit

          1) That we even have the Spirit is a 
             testimony to God’s _______

          2) The Spirit enables us to live the 
             Christian __________

     B) We pray for them to allow _________ to have 
        control

     C) We pray for them to understand the 
        greatness of God’s _______

     D) We pray for them to obtain spiritual 
        ____________

III) Prayer should move us to ____________

     A) God is ___________ than we can imagine

     B) God is ____________ in His dealings with us

     C) God’s glory is on display in _____________

     D) God’s glory is on display in the _________

Devotional Reading for January 15, 2023

Proverbs 5:15-23 “Drink water from your own cistern and running water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed outside, your streams of water in the wide plazas? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in your wife you married in your youth— a loving doe, a graceful deer; may her breasts satisfy you at all times, may you be captivated by her love always. But why should you be captivated, my son, by an adulteress, and embrace the bosom of a different woman? For the ways of a person are in front of the LORD’s eyes, and the LORD weighs all that person’s paths. The wicked will be captured by his own iniquities, and he will be held by the cords of his own sin. He will die because there was no discipline; because of the greatness of his folly he will reel.”

Unfaithfulness is easy. Unfaithfulness is the default of the human heart. Even believers have their old nature that fights against their new nature (which is given by the Spirit of God). Faithfulness is hard. Faithfulness requires discipline! And we are to be faithful to our spouses. We need to discipline our minds and hearts to single minded devotion. We aren’t to cheat on them. We aren’t to turn them in for a new model when they get older. Instead, we are to rejoice with them as we grow old together, and not seek sexual or emotional satisfaction elsewhere.

Devotional Reading for January 14, 2022

Proverbs 5:7-14 “So now, children, listen to me; do not turn aside from the words I speak. Keep yourself far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your vigor to others and your years to a cruel person, lest strangers devour your strength, and your labor benefit another man’s house. And at the end of your life you will groan when your flesh and your body are wasted away. And you will say, ‘How I hated discipline! My heart spurned reproof! For I did not obey my teachers and I did not heed my instructors. I almost came to complete ruin in the midst of the whole congregation!'”

We should be thankful for the advice of godly people, for the instruction of God’s Word, and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, because they all impart wisdom. When we refuse to live by God’s standards destruction follows, and adultery is a great example of that. Sin can bring about the destruction of everything we hold dear and leave us humbled and remorseful. We also see here that what may begin as a “private” sin doesn’t stay private for long. We should truly realize that “your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Devotional Reading for January 13, 2023

Proverbs 5:1-6 “My child, be attentive to my wisdom, pay close attention to my understanding, in order to safeguard discretion, and that your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her seductive words are smoother than olive oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. Lest she should make level the path leading to life, her paths have wandered, but she is not able to discern it.”

We are again reminded of the parental aspect of any kind of teaching. It’s not just a job to pass on wisdom. It should be done out of care and concern, not only duty.

When we have understanding we’ll be able to control ourselves. A paraphrase of the first part of verse 2 could read, “to watch over your plans.” Wisdom gives us what we need to know to live properly, and we should make sure that’s what’s in our minds and on our lips! And speaking of lips, the lips of adulterous woman are seductive. But the words here are not just for young men. Anyone can have a problem with sexual immorality. Sex is seductive and destructive. No matter how strong we think we are, we can be pulled in. That’s why Paul’s instruction is so important: “flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).

Devotional Reading for January 12, 2023

Proverbs 4:20-27 “My child, pay attention to my words; listen attentively to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight, guard them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and healing to one’s entire body. Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life. Remove perverse speech from your mouth; keep devious talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look directly in front of you and let your gaze look straight before you. Make the path for your feet level, so that all your ways may be established. Do not turn to the right or to the left; turn yourself away from evil.”

In the midst of another reminder of the importance of wisdom and the blessings that come from it, we have a very important lesson for life. We need to be careful what we put inside our hearts and our minds. Jesus taught that “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19). Talk about the “sources of life” coming from your heart! And it seems particularly appropriate to talk about speech after that, because, as Jesus said, the evil and foolishness that we put inside will eventually make it’s way out through our mouths and our actions. If we are truly going to get rid of perverse speech and devious talk in our lives, we need to watch, read, think, and talk about good things. We need to let our eyes look straight ahead. We need to keep our feet on the straight and narrow path. We need to turn away from evil.

1 Peter 3:10-12 “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Note: I can’t believe I just had to go back and change a bunch of my dates to 2023!

Devotional Reading for January 11, 2023

Proverbs 4:10-19 “Listen, my child, and accept my words so that the years of your life will be many. I hereby guide you in the way of wisdom and I lead you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; protect it, because it is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked or walk in the way of those who are evil. Avoid it, do not go on it; turn away from it, and go on. For they cannot sleep unless they cause harm; they are robbed of sleep until they make someone stumble. Indeed they have eaten bread gained from wickedness and drink wine obtained from violence. But the path of the righteous is like the bright morning light, growing brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like gloomy darkness; they do not know what they stumble over.”

There are four statements here that sum up much of what has come before, and provide a guide for life:

  • We need to accept the words of wisdom.
  • We need to walk in the way of wisdom.
  • We need to keep to the path of wisdom.
  • And we need to avoid the way of the wicked.

The way of the wicked is seductive and compulsive (16), and its path grows darker and darker the more we are on it. In contrast, wisdom’s path grows brighter and brighter the longer we walk it!

Romans 6:16 “Do you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness?”

Devotional Reading for January 10, 2023

Proverbs 4:1-9 “Listen, children, to a father’s instruction, and pay attention so that you may gain discernment. Because I hereby give you good instruction, do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son to my father, a tender, only child before my mother, he taught me, and he said to me: ‘Let your heart lay hold of my words; keep my commands so that you will live. Acquire wisdom, acquire understanding; do not forget and do not turn aside from the words I speak. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will guard you. Wisdom is supreme—so acquire wisdom, and whatever you acquire, acquire understanding! Esteem her highly and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place a fair garland on your head; she will bestow a beautiful crown on you.’”

There isn’t a lot of new ground here, but we would do well to remember the importance of parents teaching wisdom, as well as the attitudes that drive the teaching. There should be an urgency and tenderness that accompanies teaching, which all teachers should embody. I’m sure Paul had all this in mind when he wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). As important as wisdom is, forcing it down someone’s throat doesn’t work. Acquiring wisdom needs desire, from both the teacher and the student.