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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

October 2019

Proverbs 31

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King Lemuel penned these words which his mother taught him.

 

As a ruler, a king, a sovereign, though you have the authority to, do not ruin your reputation with your liberty to:  1. Dally, flirt, toy, or trifle  with women. 2. Drink wine or strong drink, (beer), for you will be unfit to make solid decisions.  But Do: 1. Open your mouth for the those who have no voice. 2. Judge, as to save, those rights of the afflicted and needy.

A virtuous woman, makes an excellent wife, her worth is indescribable.  1. Her husband works without worry, brings home his pay, lays it on the table and always knows she will not spend it foolishly.  2. She never undermines him, but does good for him always.  3. She is industrious, constantly thinking about her household as a unit unto itself.  4. She is not lazy, or considers herself a princess, she arises early and works with a purpose until dark.  5. She keeps herself healthy and strong.  6. She reaches out to the poor and the needy.  7. Hard times do not bring her any fear for she has prepared for them, knowing that those times are inevitable.  8. Her love for her family is obvious to all whom she encounters, she has the children clean, fed, and trained for good behavior and politeness.  9. In her view there is no better man in all the city than her husband.  10. Again she is industrious and clothes her self with strength and dignity, and welcomes the change that the future will bring.  11. Love, kindness, strength, wisdom, and nobleness are her virtues, the whole city knows it, but mostly her children, and her husband who praises her and blesses her, and thanks God for her every day of his life with her.  12. Beauty comes from deep within, it starts in the heart but can’t be contained there, it spills out in all that you do.

Only God can develop a woman of this type.  I like to think the Samaritan woman at the well, who was, from our understanding, of low self esteem, and dependent upon any mans attention, changed into a woman who like this.  After her encounter with Jesus she ran to the city declaring who she used to be.  “Come see a man who told me all about myself.”  But now there was hope for real change, a new beginning that started with Jesus.  John 4.7-30.  “Old things have passed away, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5.17.

Karl

P.S. I love my wife.

Proverbs 25

 

This chapter of proverbs and wisdom sayings deals mostly with integrity.

Speaking in terms of purity, of undefiled idealism, it is surely God’s sovereign right to conceal anything.  It’s His right to cover any discoverable matter, whether physical or philosophical with shadows, so that they may be discovered, but not with out great effort and learning.  In like manner it is the glory of a true, honorable monarch on earth,  one who truly seeks righteousness, to search out such matters, through not only his own personal disciplines, but also through those learned men in his rule.  No man is an island, that can’t learn from others efforts, and studies.

The integrity of rulers, of  teachers, bosses, government officials, spouses, anyone who makes decisions, affect others in their care, or realm of influence. They are to be without reproach.

If you have a conflict with a neighbor, try to settle it privately without fanfare or threats. By patience and civility, a kind approach and a soft answer, does much more to resolve the matter than anything else.  And you won’t be accused of, or thought of, as to acting the part of a fool.

A simple question asked, or a word of wisdom stated, with the express purpose of keeping a friend from going the wrong direction, or making a grand mistake, is like precious jewelry.  When heeded, those words will be remembered, and treasured for a lifetime.

To show unexpected kindness to, or trust in a troubled, angry person most often results in a mockery of said kindness.  Don’t expect a response of gratitude, you have just exposed to him his weaknesses, and like vinegar and soda, he will get all frothed up.  The LORD knows your heart, He sees your acts of goodness and He rewards.

A righteous person should never quit being good, running away from contentiousness, and evil undermining evaluations of your persona.  The wicked always trample and destroy everything in their path, including the things that are of benefit to them, such as wisdom and good advise.

Overindulging your senses and desires results in overdose.   No one wants to clean up after you.    That goes for overstaying your welcome also, know when it’s time to go home.

No one can stand a liar.  That goes for a con-man, or a junkie, learn to recognize them, and don’t give them the time of day, they’ll rob you.

A kind, uplifting word rewards your heart, but don’t push for more.  It’s not good to receive too much praise, for it builds pride, and you will begin to think too highly of yourself.  Do all your righteousness as to the LORD.

Karl

Wisdom Revisited

Proverbs 24

Review & Analysis:  Wisdom is presented as a power (vv. 1-12) that saves lives (vv. 1,2), that maintains households (vv. 3,4), that wars as necessary (vv. 5,6cp. Deut. 20:1-5) and is excellent (vv. 7-12) … When I was young, some time ago, an objective most had was to be smart, simply wisdom by another name … I no longer hear this talked about as a living objective … Is it because most believe that our gadgets have supplanted the need for “smarts”? … An aside, Edward Gibbon traced the decline of the Roman Empire and stated near the end that “bizarre behavior passed for sophistication” …  Solomon terms smart, reasoned living as wise … This saying (vv. 13-22) teaches the path to future happiness includes correct discernment (vv. 13, 14) and resisting evil (vv. 15-20) … These two verses (vv. 21, 22) flatly state that YHWH and the king are at the center of a nation … Is YHWH a center of attention in America? … Finally, we have some independent sayings regarding wisdom (vv. 23-34) .. Wisdom distinguishes between innocence and guilt (vv. 23-25) … Truth is likened to a kiss on the lips (v. 26) … There are worse things in this life …   Tend your fields, build your house (v. 27) … Do not lie (v. 28), do not repay evil with evil (v. 29) … The lazy (see Prov. 6:6-11) destroy the household and, coincidentally, serve as an example to the wise (vv. 30-34).

 

Restraint, Wisdom, Education & Insight

Proverbs 23 (NRSV)

Proverbs 23 (The Message Bible)

Remember the Value of Restraint:

*Be shrewd and savvy when eating with the powerful and influential.

*Be rich in faith, not in things, for riches disappear.

*Avoid the stingy and fools and save your time and wisdom for better people.

*Do not take advantage of the poor and orphans by stealing their land.

*Do the hard work of disciplining your children.

*Do not be envious of the fleeting fortunes of sinners.

*Drink wine but do not be a drunkard.

*Listen to the wisdom of your parents.

*Avoid prostitutes and promiscuous women.

Go for Truth, Wisdom, and Instruction:

*Don’t sell out for the love of money and and false hopes.

*Give your mind, your attention, your focus to instruction, education, knowledge and good judgement.

*Hold on to what is good for your Redeemer is strong.

The Value of Integrity

Proverbs 22

A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Proverbs 22:1

A theme I keep seeing in Proverbs is God’s appreciation of good character.

I think in our world there are many times when we may degrade our character for some sort of gain. Some instant gratification with long term pains–isn’t that what most sin is?

This proverb is like so many others. Gains of the world will only take you so far… but your name, character, integrity? That’s the key.

Matthew 16:26 sums it up perfectly.

I have a quick journaling/meditation question for you today: When someone hears your name, what is the first thing they probably think of? Be completely honest. If you like the answer, praise God! If you don’t, what can you do to fix it?

Blessings,
Karissa

Good Advise

Proverbs 18

Review & Commentary:  Continuing from the previous chapter (vv. 17:21-18:3) are statements related to wise choices vs. those of a fool … “Deep waters” (vv. 4-5) relate to one’s discernment of life (see Jer. 17:5-10) … At some level, this life is a test … Generally speaking, before there is blessing there is testing … Evil words and deeds come from within (vv. 6-9) … A contrast is drawn (vv. 10-11) between one who trusts in the LORD and one who trusts in one’s wealth … The condition of the heart – for good or ill, matters greatly (vv. 12, 14) … Answering before listening leads to bad choices (v. 13) … Once again, the heart (v. 15) is at the middle of everything, it’s desire is likened to fruit that is pleasing to eat (vv. 20-21) … The finding of a wife is a good thing (v. 22) … With wealth comes advantages (v. 23) … Or put another way – “Them that has, gets” (Iron’s Law of Distribution) .. The question, in a free society, is how one positions one’s self in the light of this reality? … Finally, regarding friendships (v. 24).  Emerson states the differently – “To have a friend, one must be a friend,” but to the same effect … In my reading of RW Emerson, I’m quite confident that he was well aware of the sayings of the Book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 19

Here is a chapter of proverbs that contrast the wise and the fool:

Poverty isn’t always someone else’s fault.

God hates a liar.

Laziness reaps it’s own reward.

God rewards those who are generous to His causes.

Forgiveness to the unrepentant only encourages the same bad behavior.

Those who think they know it all are resistant to instruction.

A fool and his money are soon parted.

The knowledge and wisdom of Jehovah leads to satisfaction and peace.

A belligerent and contentious spouse is unbearable.

A government based on honor requires honorable citizens and rulers to survive.

Loyalty is a desirable trait.

It is better to live in poverty than to lie your way into wealth.

What’s in a man’s heart is revealed in his life.

Only God can change a man’s heart and life.

Karl

Hoping for the best, knowing the Lord loves always, and working on yourself.

Proverbs 16

The beginning of this proverb led me to believe the whole this was going to be about how we think we’re in control and know what’s up, but the truth is the Lord knows more and sometimes has plans that are far different from our own.

But the proverb has so much more than that!

Let’s break it into three bits of wisdom:
1. It’s all about God’s time, not ours.
2. The Lord’s love is amazing.
3. Character is important.

To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

Proverbs 16:1

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and He will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

I’ve talked time and time again about asking the Lord for things. If you are committing your work to the Lord He is going to establish your plans, but you better be prepared for those plans to be different from what you had had in mind. This little cartoon may help:

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Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.

Proverbs 16: 6

I think we need to all pause for a moment and remember this was written before Jesus came to Earth. We get this idea in our head that the Old Testament God and the New Testament God are two different gods and that just isn’t true. Through love sin is atoned for. Amazing! This isn’t the only place that talks about how God wants love more than the gore and violence we associate with the Old Testament (Hosea 6:6, Psalm 51:16, or just look at this list).

God’s love has been so evident and so clear for so long. He just wants us to be with Him.

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 16:18

Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.

Proverbs 16:32

There’s a saying I learned a long time ago that for the most part is true: We can’t control what’s done to us, but we can control how we react. I think that phrase is important here. If things are going well for you, remember all good comes from the Lord, and you react by thinking you’re all that while ignoring the Lord in your life–you better watch out for that fall.

Likewise, we can’t control the co-worker who steps on our toes, doesn’t turn forms in on time, refuses to change their work ethic for efficiency, and doesn’t read emails (we all know what “per my last e-mail” really means), but you can choose to take a breath and pray. You can pray for your own heart, you can pray true blessings over them (passive aggressive prayers like “God, please help this person not be a slob” are not what I’m suggesting), and maybe even show the love of Christ to them by offering them a donut, some vitamins during cold season, or a piece of chocolate at the 2pm slump hour. All of that is a quality of a person with patience and self-control vs. the person who either straight up yells at employees in frustration (don’t be that guy, please) or goes to the boss/HR with every complaint.

Grow your character by loving others. Hear their stories. Find out why they are the way they are. They may still annoy you and you may have to keep praying for God to change your heart, but that process of working on you instead of spending so much energy disliking them proves to be fruitful…eventually.

Blessings, brothers and sisters;
Karissa

Fear of the Lord

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Proverbs 14

As is the case with most of the proverbs, each verse here has a “do this, don’t do that” repetition to them. Here is a list of all of the things that lead to death: 

Foolishness, Pride, Lies, Wickedness, Being quick tempered, Worldly things that seem like good things, but really aren’t

Here is a list of traits that lead to righteousness: 

Prudence, Honesty, Fear of the Lord, Patience, Discernment

We should strive to be honest with the people around us. More importantly, we need to be honest with ourselves. Remember that, although on the outside we may have one appearance, God can see what is written on our hearts. Patience isn’t always an easy thing, like when we’ve been cut off on the highway for the tenth time in as many minutes. Giving careful thought to what we say and do (prudence) gives us a better chance at being discerning (showing good judgment). 

Most of all, we should live our lives in fear of the Lord. Why should I be afraid of God? I looked into this to see an interpretation of what this means, which you can read here. According to Martin Luther, there are two types of fear: servile and filial. Servile fear would be the equivalent of a prisoner being afraid of the jailer. It may also be the fear one has of their boss. In each case, you may obey expectations just because you don’t want to get a beating or get fired. 

Filial fear is equivalent to fearing your parents’ disciplinary actions. You tend to have these fears out of respect and love for your parents. You have this fear because you don’t want to disappoint the ones you love and care about the most. Our fear of God is this type of fear. If we love and respect the Creator of All Things, then we should always strive to meet His expectations, and know that there are consequences for falling short. 

On that last note, though we fall short, we know that we are the benefactors of unmatched love, grace, and mercy through the redeeming Blood of Christ. As Paul writes in Ephesians 3:17b-19: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. So, live your life in fear of the Lord, knowing that God loves you more than you will ever be able to understand. 

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