BY HIS GRACE HE GAVE US ETERNAL ENCOURAGEMENT!

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!

KING OF KINGS

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wishes.” Proverbs 21:1

Throughout history there have been a variety of kings. Some were just, generous and considerate of their population. Others were famous for torturing and slaughtering their own people. Kings – and all figures of authority – are working under God’s watchful eye. Even if they don’t know it, He is sovereign, even over them; they are subject to Him.

There are kings…then there is the King of kings. He is Jesus, the “blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” (1st Timothy 6:15) Jesus may not be acknowledged now as such, but one day, just the mention of the name of the King of kings will cause every knee to bow, “of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10,1

Let’s bow our knees today before the King of kings, and worship Him now as Lord of lords!

Prayer: Lord, we worship You as the King over every king and praise You for Your sovereignty. We humbly bow before your authority. Amen!

IT’S ALL GOOD!

“The glory of young men is their strength,
And the splendor of old men is their gray head.”
Proverbs 20:29

Most of us don’t realize how strong we are in our youth. We realize that our strength is diminishing about the same time that those pesky gray hairs start cropping up. The cycle of life is inevitable. It goes something like this:

No gray hair = a lot of strength, but wisdom may be lacking

Some gray hair = some loss of strength, some wisdom

A lot of gray hair = great loss of strength and great wisdom.

When our heads are gray, experience and wisdom replace youthful strength. That’s a good thing; it’s God’s design for our lives. Both seasons of life are beautiful when we accept them the way our Creator planned them. When you simply don’t have the strength and stamina you once had, or those gray hairs annoy you, remember the wisdom you’ve acquired over the years. It’s good. It’s all good!

Prayer: Father God, thank you for Your plan and the seasons of life. Help us to appreciate and enjoy every season you give us. Amen!

BE KIND

Most of us are drawn to a kind person; they attract friends like a magnet. King Solomon wrote “What is desired in a man is kindness.” (Proverbs 19:22) We can all affirm that kindness is a character trait that is appreciated in anyone, of any age.

Our example for kindness is our Father God. Christ said He is “kind to the unthankful and evil.” (Luke 6:35) That’s all-inclusive and unconditional. God is faithful to pour out his kindness on everyone. While God doesn’t expect repayment, He does want us to follow His example and “be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32).

At work, in our families, on the road, at the check-out line or on social media let’s be kind, even when it’s hard. Following God’s example, others will see his kindness in and through us.

Prayer: Lord it’s hard for us to be kind to unthankful and mean people. That’s why we need You to show Your perfect kindness through us. Amen!

RUN FROM AND RUN TO

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10

My husband Jorge and I enjoy hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains, which happens to be an ideal habitat for black bears. Thankfully, we never had to run from a black bear, but if we had to, it would be best not only to run “from” the bear, but to run “to” a safe place. A car. A refuge. A shelter. We can’t run from a bear for very long on our own strength, because the bear would catch up with us. We would have to have a safe place and know exactly where it is, then run – like everything!! – to it.

On day 5 of our Proverbs meditations, we looked at the ugliness of sin and realized that we must run from temptation. (See “Pay Attention!” posted on August 5, 2014) Unfortunately, we can’t run from something for very long without having a safe place to run to. Thank God, we have a refuge to run to when we are confronted with temptation. That safe place is the name of the Lord. Running to the name of the Lord and crying out to Him for help, we are protected.

Stop running from sin and temptation on your own. You’ll run out of strength and be overtaken. Run to the name of the Lord!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being our safe place. As we run from temptation, lead us right into the safety of your protecting arms. Amen!

GET OVER IT!

“He who would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9

We’ve all been offended by someone close to us. A bad attitude or an unintentional, unkind word from a friend can hurt us. When something happens that offends us, we have a choice:

  1. We can tell someone else (or a lot of people) about it and fume over it. Result? We lose our friend. Our loss.
  2. We can be loving enough to “forgive and forget.” Get over it and don’t mention it again to the person who offended us, or to anyone else. Result? We keep our friend. Our gain!

The Bible teaches a lot about forgiveness. One of the most reassuring promises God gives us is in Isaiah 43:25, where He states: “I will not remember your sins.” If God does not remember the sins we confess to Him, shouldn’t we also forgive and get over it when someone offends us?

Prayer: Lord, we are so thankful for your forgiveness. Help us to get over offenses and not bring them up again!

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

A honeycomb is the source of the most natural form of honey, and where we find genuine, pure sweetness. Honey is also very sticky. It’s very easy to get everything sticky when harvesting the honeycombs. Hands, utensils, the outside of the jars – even the floor – can become sweet and sticky.

Based on King Solomon’s observation, gracious words are that way, too: natural, genuine and pure. Gracious words are also sweet and sticky. When someone speaks grace to us, those words stick to our minds and stay in our hearts. The healing they bring is very sweet.

Let’s thank God for people who speak gracious words to us, and let’s also be intentional about making our words sweet and sticky, too!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for gracious words spoken to us. Help us to always speak to others with grace. Amen!

THE SECRET TO SUCCESS

Seeking advice is essential for success. If you want a long, satisfying marriage, observe couples who’ve been happily married for many years and ask for tips. If you plan to train and teach your children to be responsible, productive, God-loving adults, find parents who’ve “been there, done that” and get their advice. Before making a major purchase or booking a hotel for your next trip, check online reviews. Our activities, purchases, plans and decision-making will be more successful if we first tap into the wisdom and experiences of others.

That is what King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 15:22: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” We all want to be successful and we all need advice at some point. When facing a major decision, let’s be wise and humble enough to seek advisers for counsel. God can use their input to help us be successful.

Prayer: Father, we admit that decision-making can be difficult. Lead us to the right people who can give us wisdom to succeed. Amen!

THE FEAR OF THE LORD

“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.” Proverbs 14:26

Throughout the book of Proverbs, we read numerous references to the fear of the Lord (appropriate respect and reverence). Among other things, here are some things King Solomon mentions:

  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Prov. 1:7)
  • The fear of the Lord goes hand-in-hand with departing from sin. (Prov. 13)
  • The fear of the Lord motivates us to walk in uprightness. (Prov. 14:2)
  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Prov. 9:10)
  • The fear of the Lord prolongs our days. (Prov. 10:27)
  • The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life. (Prov. 14:27)
  • The fear of the Lord is the source of strong confidence. (Prov. 14:26)

Meditating on these beneficial advantages, we ask ourselves: “Why would I NOT choose to fear the Lord?”

Prayer: Lord, give us the grace to reverence You, stand in awe of you and give You the appropriate respect you deserve. Let that guide our activities, plans, thoughts and attitudes. Amen!

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