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The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel ... to give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion (1:1, 4).
The saying is certainly true which says "Experience is the best teacher." It is through day-to-day living that we come to understand life. What we did not understand as children we come to know as adults. When we start upon a new endeavor we learn slowly, gathering more information and experience until we finally master it. Our Christian life is like that. We start out inexperienced and with little knowledge, but then we grow in our understanding and commitment. Christ Himself spent a good deal of His life preparing for His ministry and work. Like Him, we are growing, maturing, and preparing for the kingdom of God, which awaits us. When we search for God in the Bible and through prayer we are being made ready for our heavenly home. In this life, we never really arrive at "being" Christian, but we are ever "becoming" Christian. As long as we continue to learn, we continue to grow. In that growth lies wisdom.
PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, grant that I might continue to learn more about You each and every day. Create in me a real hunger for Your truth. Amen.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction (1:7).
Standing on the shore of a great ocean, one is amazed at the force of the waves crashing on the rocks. The vast expanse of water is awe inspiring, yet it is beautiful. Only a very foolish person would ignore the dangers presented by the sea, yet, only a fool would not be attracted by its beauty. The ocean is to be feared and respected, but it is also to be experienced. Despite our sense of awe, or perhaps because of it, we are drawn to the water, to be immersed in it, to become part of it. Our true enjoyment of the surf comes when we enter in, but only when we understand its power. The same is true of God. We stand in awe before Him, wisely cautious in the face of His power, yet we long to know Him, to be united with Him. The wise pursue Him with all their heart, while the foolish ignore Him or reject Him through their fear. Once we understand the power of our Lord, this fear enables us to be with Him, immersed in Him, but always respecting His might.
PRAYER: O Lord, help me to know fear in a positive way, and set my feet on the path to wisdom. Amen.
So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof (l:19).
An important question each person should ask is "How much do I really need?" Christ is quite clear about the accumulation of wealth. As in the story of the man who built his storehouses bigger to hold his great crops, Christ asks each one of us where it is we keep our treasure. Is it on earth, or is it in heaven? Surely God wants every person to enjoy life and to share in good times, but He does not find joy in the celebration of a few when many suffer. A good guideline to follow concerning the possessions of this world is to contemplate the question of what Christ might do with the same possessions if they were His. If this rule were followed much more would be given and shared, and fewer people would have to do without. The Bible says that greed is keeping what we don't need. God rejoices in the life of a giver but has no part of the greedy person's life. With His help and guidance, we all can learn to be more giving.
PRAYER: Oh heavenly Father, open my eyes to the needs of those around me. Destroy the spirit of selfishness in my heart, and teach me to give as You would give. Amen.
When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me (1:27-28).
A little boy waited patiently, day after day, to be allowed to play baseball with the bigger boys on the block. Every game was the same. He sat waiting and never got to play. One day he didn't bother to show up. He found another team on another block where he was needed. His old team came to find themselves short of the number needed to play, so they called on the tittle boy. The boy said, "If you wanted me so bad, you should have given me a chance to play before. Now it's too late." Often we treat God the same way. When things are going well we ignore Him, but the minute things go wrong we run to Him, hoping He will make everything all right. God is not someone we should turn to only in times of trial. He should be a part of our whole life, both in good times and bad. We must be sure to include God in everything we do.
PRAYER: Dear God, forgive those times when I seem to forget You. Help me to include You in all I do, think, and feel. Be with me to guide me, now and forever. Amen.
Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path (2:9).
Jesus Christ selected for Himself a band of twelve rough, rugged men to be His disciples. These men knew very little of qualities like gentleness, compassion, kindness, and giving. Prior to Jesus coming to them they had very little reason to consider any of these traits. Their paths were many, but none would have been considered good. None until Christ came along. During their three years with Jesus, the disciples learned everything there was to know of these qualities. They came to understand all that Jesus tried to show them. They carried these qualities of goodness into the world and taught others to follow them. If we will take time to spend with Christ, through prayer, Bible reading, and devotion, we too will learn these traits. We will learn to follow the good paths that Jesus followed. This is what it means to be a Christian. The key is in spending time with God in order to learn them.
PRAYER: Remind me, heavenly Father, that I should spend time with You today and every day. Make me a disciple of Yours, anxious to learn all You would teach me. Amen.
To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked (2:12-14).
I recently visited a woman in the hospital. She didn't seem too happy to see me, and after awhile she let me know why. "God is doing this to me," she said. "He is punishing me because I'm not a church woman. He just waits for someone to make a mistake, then He gets them." Isn't it strange that people think of God this way? God doesn't want anyone to suffer. He never punishes people arbitrarily. Nor does He turn His sight from those who do wrong. God will finally be the judge of all people, and true justice will be served, but to think that God acts unfairly and without cause is absurd. God loves all human beings and wants the best for them. His love knows no bounds, and when we suffer or struggle, He struggles with us. God is with us in both good times and bad, but He is never to be blamed for our misfortunes. Instead, He is to be praised and thanked for all the wonderful blessings we receive each and every day. There is no place we can go that God will not be with us. This is the real meaning of blessed assurance. God is with us. Hallelujah!
PRAYER: O thank You, dear Lord, that I am never out of Your sight. You are with me always. Grant that I might feel Your presence each and every day. It is good to know I am never alone. Amen.
Day 7 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it (2:22).
So often it seems like the evil will inherit the earth, rather than the meek. Bad people with evil intentions appear blessed in many ways that good people are not. It is a hard lesson to learn that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Often it would be so nice to see the unkind, cruel, hateful people get what they deserve. Like God's people throughout history, we cry out for God to bring justice upon the heads of our persecutors. In due time God will do just that. God's time is not our time, however, and we must learn to be patient and wait. God offers us a helpful suggestion in waiting for justice to come. Jesus says, "Judge not lest ye be judged. Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" It is easy to sit back and hope for other people to receive their just desserts, but what God wants us to do is make sure we are doing everything we should be doing. Justice is God's responsibility. Ours is to do those things which we know are pleasing to God and to avoid doing the things which He dislikes-like judging our neighbors.
PRAYER: Help me be patient and turn from bitter feelings toward those who do wrong. Let me love them with Your love, and help me look at my own life to see that it is pleasing in Your sight. Amen.
Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. (3:9-10).
Two men stood at the gate of a great city. While they waited, a poor woman came to them asking for a few coins with which she could buy bread for her children. The first man scowled at the woman and said, "I work hard for my money. I give of my own time and my own labor. I earn what I reap. Go and do the same for yourself and your family!" The woman began to walk away, but the other man followed after her and said, "Poor woman, take this money, for it is not really mine. I do work hard for it, but it is by God's grace that I have it at all. He gave me the talents I possess; He gave me my strength and knowledge; and He has given to us all the lives we have to live. If I give to you, I simply give to God what He has provided." It is good to remember that without God we would not possess the things we do. All things come to us from God, and it is good that we share them. Jesus told the people that whenever they came to the aid of another person in need, they were in fact aiding Him. True prosperity comes only when we learn to give to others as freely as God gives to us.
PRAYER: Oh Father, soften my heart to those who are less fortunate than I am. Help me to appreciate the blessings I have been given and to share from my abundance. Fill me with the new wine, which is Your Spirit. Amen.
Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour (3:16).
Wisdom-the knowledge of God-is a gift from God. He gives it to all people who come to Him seeking true understanding. He will not deny it to anyone, but He will give it in small enough portions to enable the individual to make sense of it. As a person comes to know God better, he or she will avoid those activities which are self-destructive and unprofitable. The person receives a deeper appreciation of the wonder of God in the world. Life becomes more meaningful, and the person gains a new understanding of what it means to be a success. Life is a privilege which God wants us to value. When we turn from Him and pursue our own selfish desires, we lose sight of the sacredness of His gift. We may think that we can find fulfillment in life on our own, but it is through God and God alone that we can come to know the wonder of life most fully. God is the author of life, and He will bless us with its richness if we will only let Him. A full and happy life, rich in meaning and honorable in all ways, is the prize of any believer who will keep God centered in his or her life.
PRAYER: Help me to see the beauty and wonder of this life You have given to me, O Lord. Open my eyes so that I might come to know the richness and fullness You intend my life to have. Grant me this, I pray. Amen.
Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken (3:25-26).
A teacher returned to her classroom to find chaos had broken out. Paper, pencils, and erasers were flying through the air, pictures were drawn on the blackboards and walls, children were running all around the room, and the noise was deafening. One little girl sat quietly in the back corner, refusing to enter into the mischief. As the teacher began to scold the class, she remembered the little girl who was well behaved. After class, she pulled the young child aside and told her how much it meant to her that she had remained silent and obedient. Often we feel as though our good acts are missed. When we don't receive credit and acclaim, we feel cheated. What we need to remember is that none of our actions go unnoticed by God. He sees our every move, and He applauds us when we refuse to do those things we know we should not, but that our society seems to approve of. Our reward will never come from this life, but from the life that awaits us with our heavenly Father. His blessing is ever with us if we will only be patient and believe.
PRAYER: Father, often I feel as though my good behavior is ignored or forgotten. Forgive me for being prideful, and help me to know that You see me at both my best and worst and love me all the time. Amen.
DAY 11 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee (3:27-28).
Recently I had a flat tire while I was on a busy interstate. I tried to flag down passing cars, hoping for some assistance. Hundreds of cars passed without even slowing down. I began to think of all the times I had passed motorists in distress, and I didn't have the time or the inclination to help them. I felt a little guilty, and it made me much more understanding of those who whizzed past. It also made me much more appreciative of the help when it came. We are given so many opportunities in our lives to help other people in need. It is important that we reach out and take hold of those chances. Jesus said that every time we help any person in need, it is as if we have done it for Christ Himself.
Excerpted from Wisdom from the Proverbs by Dan Dick Nancy Dick Copyright © 2003 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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