BY HIS GRACE HE GAVE US ETERNAL ENCOURAGEMENT!

TRUE BEAUTY

It’s interesting to note that in the well-known description of “The Virtuous Wife” in Proverbs 31:10-29, no mention is made of the wife’s physical beauty. She is praised for her admirable character traits. Reading them, we are only left to guess what she looked like. Maybe she was borderline homely or she could have been normal. But then, she might have been a good candidate for “Miss Universe”. We don’t know.

The summary of her real beauty is given in Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Her true beauty was on the inside.

If we have any outer beauty, it’s passing. We see wrinkles and sags staring back at us in the mirror. Our hair thins and our waistline doesn’t. Don’t count on outward beauty! On the other hand, like The Virtuous Wife of Proverbs 31, we may or may not be beautiful on the outside. Fortunately, like her, we can cultivate inner beauty. Let’s be diligent to work on our inner beauty: on Loving God and others, and obeying His word. That’s the true beauty that will never, ever pass away!

Prayer: Lord, Even though our world puts undue emphasis on outer beauty, help us cultivate that true beauty that comes from loving You and loving others. Amen!

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” Proverbs 30:5

The word “shield” in the Bible refers to god’s protection. Besides Agur, the author of Proverbs 30, other Biblical authors related the words “shield” and “trust.” Let’s look at only two examples.

Psalm 18:30: “The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” – King David

Psalm 115:11: “You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield.” – Anonymous Psalmist

Centuries later, the Apostle Paul reminded us of the importance of using our shield of faith to conquer our enemy, Satan. Let’s hold tightly to God’s word and trust in it, thanking Him that His shield protects us!

Prayer: Lord, We are so thankful because You are our protecting shield. Help us to trust Your word and know the safety of Your protection. Amen!

E B B O M

Acronyms are an excellent way to remember important things. Because I often need to be reminded of a certain great truth, I was especially drawn to one I came across recently. In fact, I even set it as my screen-saver on my computer at work. That acronym is E B B O M, and it stands for:

Engage
Brain
Before
Opening
Mouth

The advice given in that short acronym describes a wise man that king Solomon wrote about.“A fool vents all his feelings but a wise man holds them back.” Proverbs 29:11. E B B O M is good advice that will keep us out of unwanted trouble. Next time we’re tempted to vent all our feelings or maybe are on the brink of giving someone a piece of our mind, let’s err on the side of safety. Let’s remember E B B O M!

Prayer: Father, You made us and know how prone we all are to vent all our feelings. Remind us E B B O M and give us wisdom to hold back. Amen!

“He who trusts in the Lord will be prospered…He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.” Proverbs 28:25,26

It’s interesting to note that the contrast between trusting God vs. trusting man is repeated in the Bible by several writers. In very different circumstances and times, we see the following:

The Psalmist David wrote in Psalm 20:7,8: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright.”

An anonymous author of Psalm 118:8 wrote: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”

The prophet Isaiah wrote of the plight of those who trust in man instead of the Lord in Isaiah 31:1-3, summing it up this way in verse 3: “Both he who helps will fall, and he who is helped will fall down…

In Jeremiah 17:5 and 7, the prophet penned: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD…’”

We understand the truth: trusting in our own selves or in others is foolish. Trusting God is always the best option. Let’s trust only in Him!

Prayer: Lord, we thank you for being trustworthy, and know that trusting you is always the best plan. Let our trust be in you 100%. Amen!

WE DON’T OWN TOMORROW

Boasting about future plans is never good. Ask Peter. He boldly declared to Jesus: “I’ll even die for You, but I won’t deny You.” (Read Matthew 26:31-35) We recall the sad reality. He did deny Christ, and his boasting is a solemn reminder to all of us to not be so sure of what we’ll do and what we’ll not do in the future.

King Solomon wrote: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1) Ask the person who has experienced a tragedy. Ask the one who just received an unwanted, perhaps unexpected diagnosis. Ask anyone who suffered a sudden loss. They would all agree with James, the half-brother of Jesus, who wrote: “I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money. You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that. As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil.” (The Message)

The message is clear. Let’s not arrogantly think we own tomorrow, because we don’t. Trusting God for all of our tomorrows is the best plan!

Prayer: Father, Thank You because You reminded us again that our future is in Your hands, and help us to never live as though we own tomorrow.

NO WOOD, NO FIRE

Throughout our growing-up years, we faithfully attended church camp at Camp Caesar in Webster Springs, West Virginia. It was the highlight of the year for all of us. (How many of you remember and agree?) There was something special about the nightly campfires in the old Counsel Circle. The roaring fire; singing old hymns together, hearing great testimonies and special singing groups are all part of those “Precious Memories.” (I think I hear an “Amen!”)

Going back to the Counsel Circle the next morning, the scene was very different. Light would be streaming through the open roof; the fire that raged a few hours earlier would be reduced to a pile of cold – sometimes smoldering – ashes. Because no wood was ever added to the fire during the night, it always went out.

That reminds me of Proverbs 26:20: “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.” As long as we are talebearing (gossiping) we are piling wood on the roaring fire. Our gossip causes problems, conflicts and destruction. The scene changes when we choose to hold our tongue and button our lip. The fire dies out and light streams in. Let’s remember this: no wood, no fire.

Prayer: Lord, give us wisdom and self control to keep our comments to ourselves and not engage in destructive gossip. Remind us often: no wood, no fire. Amen!

ONLY AS MUCH AS YOU NEED

Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit.” Proverbs 25:16

Though the health benefits of honey are not scientifically confirmed, there are reports of its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It is used in chronic wound management, as a remedy for acid reflux, infantile gastroenteritis, fighting infections, allergies, cough and other physical maladies.

Although it is beneficial and a yummy sweetener, King Solomon’s wise advice regarding honey is this: “eat only as much as you need.” That is the principle of moderation. What would happen if we would apply that same principle to other good things?

Work? Moderation

Money? Moderation

Eating? Moderation

Sleep? Moderation

Hobbies? Moderation.

Each of us could customize the list. All good things can bring unwanted consequences if used or practiced in excess. It doesn’t take a governmental study to realize the importance of moderation and the danger of excess. Whatever good things we enjoy in life, let’s apply the Biblical principle of moderation: “only as much as you need!”

Prayer: Lord, it’s so easy to be excessive. Please help us to consciously apply self-control and moderation in every area of our lives. Amen!

When we were growing up, one of Mom’s famous catchphrases was “That’s a good example how not to be.” A wise person can learn that by carefully observing others. That truth is tucked in the middle of a passage that King Solomon wrote. (Proverbs 24: 30-34) See if you can find it:

“I went by the field of the lazy man,
And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
And there it was, all overgrown with thorns;
Its surface was covered with nettles;
Its stone wall was broken down.
When I saw it, I considered it well;
I looked on it and received instruction:
A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest;
So shall your poverty come like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.”

“When I saw it, I considered it well. I looked on it and received instruction.” (Proverbs 24:32) Solomon’s observed someone’s bad behavior and turned it into a learning experience. He became wiser because his eyes were wide open and he learned that the lazy man was “a good example how not to be.”

Let’s be observant. We will be wiser if we imitate those who are good examples to follow, and if we learn from those who are “a good example how not to be.”

Prayer: Lord, help us to “look, consider and receive instruction” from people around us. Teach us to imitate the good and learn from those who are a “good example how not to be.”

 

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was the wife of the second president of the USA, John Adams, and the mother of the sixth president, John Quincy Adams. With no formal education, Abigail became an avid reader of classic literature, very intellectual on a variety of topics, and influential in government policy making. Abigail wrote: “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

Abigail’s observation mirrors the advice of King Solomon, who wrote in Proverbs 23:12: “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” Learning doesn’t just happen. Knowledge isn’t innate; we aren’t born knowing all the facts and skills necessary for living a normal life. As we grow, we learn, acquire discipline and continue learning. The knowledge we acquire – whether through formal education, by trial and error or by discerning observation – makes us richer.

Let’s discipline ourselves to learn something new each day. King Solomon and First Lady Abigail Adams would be thrilled to know that their advice made a difference in our lives!

Prayer: Father, thank You for giving us sound minds. Help us to be diligent to fill them with knowledge and to seek instruction. Amen!

THE WAY UP IS DOWN

“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.” Proverbs 22:4

A highly influential British preacher of the late 1800’s, Charles Spurgeon, agreed with King Solomon. He wrote: “One turn of the wheel and the lowest will be at the top.” On several occasions Jesus taught the same principle: “…whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14; Matthew 23:12)

The Biblical principle is this: The way up is down. Jesus Himself is our example. Reading Philippians 2:5-9, we see that “He humbled Himself and became obedient…therefore God also has highly exalted Him…”

It’s all right to be at the bottom of the wheel. It’s OK to bit our tongue and not disclose our achievements. We don’t have to spew out all of our knowledge on a topic or try to get the upper hand. The best option is to follow the Biblical principle of humility: The way up is down.

Prayer: Father God, too often we attempt to scramble to the top of the wheel. Help us remember that the way up is down, and give us grace to be humble. Amen!

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