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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Proverbs 7

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Herein lies a chapter on the wisdom of staying at home.  Like a father giving instruction to his son, he says listen to me and put value to my words.  There are many fascinating, exciting, interesting, enticing things out there in the city, the world, but they are not necessarily beneficial to you.  Keep wisdom close to your heart, value understanding as close friend, and treasure my teachings as the apple of your eye, so that they will keep you from adulterous temptations.  Describing the many enticements of an alluring woman, and the folly of following her home the young man has started this venture by putting himself in her path, passing through the street near her corner.  It seems he knew about this location and made provision to position himself in her path, which is a crooked one that will eventually lead to destruction.

She says to him so coyly, ” I was due to offer peace offerings; today I have paid my vows.”  So you can tell she is a good girl, she goes to temple and offers prayers.  What could be wrong with that?  Enticed with her purity the son follows her as an ox goes to slaughter.  He does not know that it will cost him his life. Verse 23.

In todays world sex outside of marriage is so common place, so prevalent, it is expected in a relationship before marriage, yet that does not make it right, or pleasing to God.  In our times these writings should be expanded from fornication and adultery to pornography also.  Jesus taught that the sins of the mind were as valid as the actual deed itself.  Matthew 5. 21-37, “To hate is as bad as murder, to lust is as bad as adultery itself, make no fabulous vow other than your own word, if you have integrity it will be enough.”

What is in your heart cannot be hidden, it will be revealed in your words, your actions, no matter how subtle, and in your overall persona.  If your heart is full of hate it will show up in your words, if your heart is full of pride it will come out in your attitudes to others, if your heart is full of lust it will show up in what you glance at, and everyone will see.  Fill your minds, and your hearts with purity, with love of God, love of your family, and love for your neighbor.   Make no provision for your flesh, follow no wicked paths.

Karl

Watch Your Mouth

Proverbs 10

When I was twenty-one a friend told me she heard I’d been gossiping and people didn’t trust me. Truth be told, I probably had been. I hadn’t learned yet that some stories weren’t mine to tell and I hadn’t learned who was a trustworthy friend to be a sounding board. I was a young woman, emotionally wrecked on her way to healing, and word vomit was my forte.

That evening though, learning that people were telling other people they didn’t trust me, I hit a new low. I had been on New Believer Cloud 9 and this slammed me back to reality.

After that, I learned to keep my mouth shut.

The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

Proverbs 10:8

was that chattering fool. I complained about everyone, was annoyed by everything, and let leadership (who happened to be best friend) know about it. I was a tattle tale gossiper. Thank the Lord for friends who step up and say “I love you and you’re messing up” because that is how wisdom began to grow in my heart. I took her command.

I shut up, I showed up, and I listened.

This verse speaks likewise to taking direction from authority:

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

Proverbs 10:17

Discipline had been a tricky thing in my life until I was in ministry. I was a “good” kid in terms of the world, so I wasn’t grounded or punished or even harshly talked to by my mom. I don’t really remember being reprimanded after second grade. Which, actually proved to be a disadvantage in adulthood.

I straight up thought I was good enough. My sins in the dark were hidden away from everyone and done mostly against myself so it didn’t matter. Then, my friends showed up to love me and helped me so that would I stop leading others astray (we all know what a vent/hate train looks like–once you start going on about the faults of someone it’s easy for everyone else to jump on board).

At the end of the day, our words are important. Are your words life giving or are they hurting someone?

And, one more quick point because this verse is something I think about a lot:

Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.

Proverbs 10:19

I almost did it twice in this blog alone. What’s the “it”? Explain why I sinned. Guess what? The reason I gossiped didn’t matter. The reason I was angry doesn’t give me the right to slander someone.

We are not called to be people who make excuses.

If you were wrong confess it, repent, and move on.

Maybe gossip isn’t your struggle and you’re reading this entire post going “I’m wasting time and this doesn’t even apply to me.” Here’s the deal, I can’t speak for you–I can only speak from my own experience. What I can tell you is that all of this applies to a multitude of sin: substance abuse, sexual sins, lying, coveting, gluttony, pride, and the list goes on and on.

If you’re trying to explain it away… It might be time to confess it and live out James 5:16.

Blessings,
Karissa

PS: All of this does not apply if you have been a victim of abuse(s) or are currently being victimized. If you are being hurt tell someone, and as a dear friend of mine told me, keep telling people until someone helps you. This devotional is for sin, and my sweet brothers and sisters, being abused is not a sin and you do not deserve it. Seek help.

Guardian Angel Domestic Violence Hotline: (815)729-1228
Guardian Angel Sexual Assault Hotline: (815) 730-8984
Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN): 1-800-656-4673
(If you Google RAINN they even have an online chat!)
Adult Abuse Hotline (for Elder Abuse): (800) 222-8000

Come on in …

Proverbs 9

Every day we are invited to walk either in godly wisdom or human foolishness. Each day is a call to make decisions that are important to who we are and will determine who we become.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding- what a simple and beautiful way to describe the relationship we are all invited in. I keep thinking about why should we choose this way of life, a life where we put God before anything else, a life where we are asked to listen before we speak, a life of service and sacrifice. Why do we choose to do that? Is it because of fear of eternal punishment or the promise of eternal rewards? For me, life is about trying to live in a way that honors God, and everything in my life is a response to God’s love rather than anything else. It is that invitation to live in the house of wisdom, that always has me intrigued. It is an invitation for all, open to all, room for all, and yet an invitation that is not often answered.

Maybe because it is an invitation that requires silence, learning, humbleness, sacrifice, service and so forth.

Today I will encourage you to think about the invitation that God has for us. Come and have life! Come and know me! Come and understand who I am, and who I want you to be!

And as you ponder that invitation, I will encourage you to also say: Here I am, teach me.

 

Be blessed,

Bo M.

The Call of Wisdom

proverbs-8

Proverbs 8

Like in all the proverbs, there is a lot to try to break down in these 36 verses. Here, wisdom is given lots of human traits, which in literary terms is known as personification. Basically, wisdom is calling to us, attempting to lead us down a path of righteousness. Whereas wickedness and worldliness leads us to destruction, wisdom is truth. To have wisdom is more important than to have “stuff”, such as gold, silver, and other riches. 

When we get to verse 22, we find that God, as part of his opening act way back in Genesis, created wisdom before anything else. Wisdom was by His side when the heavens & Earth, and the waters and the sky, and everything else was created. 

Finally, the final five verses sound somewhat similar to Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are those who listen to wisdom, watching and waiting daily to find it. Those who find wisdom will find life. And those who don’t? Well…you know. 

Rules for Living

Proverbs 6

Review & Commentary:  It seems this chapter was compiled of a variety of subjects into it’s present form … vv. 1-5 have to do with financial transactions; skepticism is healthy in business done with a friend or a stranger … vv. 6-11 is symbolically about work, comparing the industry of an ant versus the laziness of a sluggard … vv. 12-15 is about the mannerisms of an evil person … vv. 16-19 lists what the LORD hates – personal pride in self, lies, murder, conceived and executed evil, and one who “sows discord” … vv. 20-35 warns a son against illicit sex, it’s threats and it’s inevitable bad end … Much of the above can be allegorically viewed as Israel’s fidelity towards YHWH … Becoming involved with foreign or strange women is akin to Israel becoming involved with foreign or strange gods by way of troubling relationships … Committing the sin of adultery can be likened to Israel’s unfaithfulness towards YHWH and His Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 19:5-8, 20:1-26, 21:1-31:18).

Faithfulness Prevents Failure

Proverbs 5 

21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord,
and he examines all your paths.
22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;
the cords of their sins hold them fast.
23 For lack of discipline they will die,
led astray by their own great folly.

Proverbs 5 is all about attending to our most important relationship after our relationship with Jesus Christ; our relationship with our spouse, if we are married.  Here it’s written to warn men to be faithful to their wives.  Today we would write this both ways and also advise women to be faithful to their husbands.

Faithfulness to our spouse is about staying current and connected in love in our relationship.  Do we give our time, emotions, thoughts, care, and love to our spouse?  Why let work or sports or hobbies or…take us away from being with our wife or husband?  I believe it’s good to have some interests that differ from our spouse.  We get some time away from one another and then return refreshed to our times together.  But if our interests (assuming good interests) begin to consume us so that we neglect our mate then there’s a problem.

Today, if you are married, give thanks for your spouse and plan to spend quality time and quantity time with the one you pledged to love when you were first married.   If you are having relational problems see a good counselor as soon as possible and seek to solve those problems and improve your relationship.  Marriage is established by God and in a marriage a man and a woman willingly bind themselves together in love, and become one even as Christ is one with the church, his body.

Stay current, stay in love, stay faithful and know Gods gifts of joy and companionship in your marriage.

Cherishing Wisdom

Proverbs 4

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Proverbs 4:6-7

I love that wisdom is personified as a woman.

I love how the author tells his son that the first step to wisdom is to go after it. We cannot fool ourselves into believing we gain wisdom by being (a fallacy I think cultures all over the world believes–being old does not mean you’re wise), we must decide to pursue understanding. We must chase after it.

A constant pursuit.

In return, Wisdom grants a person a better life. Better is such a trite word, but it’s all I have. Wisdom will not protect you from bad things happening, but it will protect your heart when the bad things happen. Wisdom whispers in your ear to avoid situations, like a loved one who only has your best interest at heart.

Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.”

Proverbs 4:13

Earlier the author said that the days of the son’s life would be many if he honored Wisdom. Again, we see that holding onto instruction is someone’s life. Now, the author is not implying any instruction to be the key to life. Rather, the Lord’s instructions are life giving. How could we deny this? Would not the Maker know us better than we know ourselves?

Holding onto the teachings of the Lord will protect us from the evil one and death. Bad things are still going to happen–but death will not have victory over us. And that is amazing!

Here is my favorite part of the proverb:

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23

Jesus says something similar in Matthew 15:11-20. All that we do comes from the condition of our heart.

So, check your heart.

What are you doing in the dark when you think no one is looking? Are you saying one thing, but living another? Are you scrolling through social media envious of others’ lives? Are you watching that show you know is way too explicit? Are you hanging with friends that are out until 3am getting into trouble?

Garbage in, garbage out.

God is concerned with the preservation of our hearts because that is where Truth comes from. He wants to make sure that we protect ourselves from the worldly sinful things that are looking to hurt us. Instant gratification is not good for us. How many times have you felt relieved in the moment only to be raked with guilt and/or pain later?

So, brothers and sisters, I call for you all to begin or continue a path of actively seeking out the Lord’s wisdom and then honoring all that He gives you.

Blessings,
Karissa

Proverbs 3 – Wisdom passed on

Proverbs 3

From the moment we are born we learn. As a matter of fact, each new day brings new learning. My grandpa used to say: we learn till the day we day, when when we do die we are far from being smart.

In seminary, with the explosion of the internet, I learned that you can find a lot of useful information on the web, but having the knowledge to use that information is requires skill, knowledge itself about the subject and the ability to discern between good and bad information. The point that I am making is simple: we are surrounded by information all the time.

Proverbs 3 sets up the stage for good habits when it comes to accumulating and living out the knowledge we get along the way. As I read this chapter I am amazed at the simplicity of one truth: there are things that can be learned and there are things that are to be known.

Let me explain what I mean:

My son do not forget my teaching – all the things that we pass on to the next generation start with the foundation of important truths and principles that had shaped our own lives. This is about establishing a moral compass, an internal balance. This is where we learn to stand on our own two feet when trouble comes and walk without blemish before the Lord and man.

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding – knowing what to do with the information, the knowledge you accumulated along the way is more precious than anything else. When knowledge sips trough the moral filter, those hardcore values that define us, wisdom is born, wisdom comes to life. 

We each can share our own lesson we learned from our parents, grandparent, teachers and so on. We sometimes look back at some of the things that were said and realize how true and valid those lessons were. And as we grow, we learn, we change and adapt. It is a beautiful process.

Today I want to encourage you to make an effort to tell your story, share your life’s lessons and listen with an open heart to someone else as they open their lives to you. Wisdom might come from unexpected places.

Be Blessed,

Bo M.

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Seek Wisdom

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Proverbs 2

Yesterday, Karl gave a great overview of the general idea of the book of Proverbs. As he stated, some of the proverbs are meant to dispense understanding of the difference between wisdom and folly. Proverbs 2 is one such set of guidelines. 

We should seek out and store up wisdom as if we are seeking silver or great treasure. Let’s put that into more modern terms. Recently, Apple came out with the new i-Phone 11. I haven’t really followed the news on its release, but if history is any indication, I’m guessing there were people camping out days in advance to be first in line to get a new and improved phone. Because, you know, that i-Phone 10 is so 2017, and is no longer good enough, right? Imagine if people sought wisdom with the same fervor as they do the latest and greatest technology. 

Exactly where does all of this wisdom lie? Of course it’s on Google, right? Facebook? The Gram? Of course, the wisdom that we should seek can be found in scripture. But too often, people get hung up seeking worldly “wisdom,” which really isn’t wisdom. Verses 6-8 say 

6 For the Lord gives wisdom;

    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He holds success in store for the upright,

    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,

8 for he guards the course of the just 

and protects the way of his faithful ones.

How can this wisdom save us on a daily basis? It will protect us from wicked men who rejoice in perverseness and evil. It will protect us from the seductive, adulterous woman. These words metaphorically speak to me. It’s not specifically men or women, but instead just people in general who can lead us from the right path. We are surrounded by people that can lead us astray. They are at our jobs, in our neighborhoods, on TV, in the news, on the Internet, etc. They are of all cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. If we are grounded in scripture, we can stand tall and defeat the slanderous words of the wicked. 

So this day and always, I encourage you to seek wisdom in the pages of the Bible. The words on those pages have stood the test of time and are as true and relevant now as they ever have been. 

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