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Proverbs 20 verse 1 today reminds me of the need for and success of modern day Alcoholics Anonymous - "Wine produces mockers; liquor leads to brawls. Whoever is led astray by drink cannot be wise." I don't have personal experience with AA, but have heard very good things about it from several friends. I do love the AA Serenity Prayer - I think this prayer is a great prayer for all of us - "God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference." Amen.
While I'm on the subject of alcohol, since the Bible brought it up and all :), mind if I go on a bit of a tangent on this subject? Thanks. :) I would be very interested to hear others views / experiences with alcohol in their lives in the Comments below. (I know that some of our denominations have very different views on alcohol.) I'll share with you here that I struggled with alcohol abuse big time in my teens and early 20's. Certainly this Proverb was true in my case - wine produced a mocker out of me. Liquor led to brawls - oftentimes more psychological brawls than physical. And certainly I don't think I had the ability to be wise back in the days when I was led astray by excessive drink. Very frankly, I nearly drank myself to death the night before I graduated college. Alcohol poisoning / a black out got a hold of me that night. I'll spare you all the details, other than to say that after my near-death experience with alcohol, I knew I had a decision to make. Keep going the way I was going and I would die. Or go another direction. I didn't quite know what that other direction was or would look like, but I knew I had to go in the other direction away from alcohol / the party life. And thankfully God led me to Him. It took me 6 years of searching from the night I almost drank myself to death to the night when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, but it was the most important journey to undertake in my life. (The journey to Jesus is the most important journey in all of our lives...) So, yes, alcohol can be a dangerous thing, to say the least. I do know many Christians who do not / never have really struggled with it. I don't fault anyone for drinking in moderation. (These days I don't drink anymore - gave it up when I became a father.) I just know that many people reading this blog likely struggle with or know someone who struggles with alcohol. All I know is that if alcohol is something that you are "allergic" to, stay away from it. Don't touch it. Get into AA if tomorrow if you need to. (please... do it if you need to...) Let each of us never forget this Proverb 20:1 - "Wine produces mockers; liquor leads to brawls. Whoever is led astray by drink cannot be wise."
Proverbs chapter 20 verse 3 is such great wisdom: "Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling." I once was a fool who insisted on quarreling with Tony back in about 3rd grade :) after either I beat him or he beat me in the 50 yard dash at Field Day. Tony kept trying to avoid the fight with me. But I kept on pressing it. And I got whupped! It was really a great learning experience for me. I have avoided fights ever since! Don't get me wrong. I don't think we are called to be submissive and let people walk all over us. I think we can confidently and strongly hold our ground on important issues - without fighting or quarrelling. How about you? Do you avoid fights? Do you realize this is a mark of honor? Or do you insist on quarrelling? Think this is a good idea...?
Proverbs 20 verse 6 definitely gives me something to think about: "Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is really faithful?" This is a challenging Proverb for me because I feel like I have many good friends. Many who are loyal. And some who even seem faithful. But... yet.... there are still times on occasion when these friends do let me down. Or I know for a fact I let them down on occasion. It's our human nature. Fortunately for us, long after this Proverb was written, we were given the most faithful friend we could ever dream up or imagine in Jesus. Jesus really should be our best friend. I had a friend kind of shock me with this thought by continually referring to Jesus as his best friend at a lunch we had a few years ago. For some reason I was very comfortable with Jesus being my savior. But my friend? My best friend? Well, it was a new concept to me. And maybe this is a new concept to you. I do honestly believe Jesus wants to be our best friend. And he will undoubtedly be the one true and loyal and faithful friend we all can have - now and forever. So, is Jesus your best friend?
Proverbs 20 verse 7 today is a wonderful reminder that the way we live our lives today sets an example for children: "The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children after them." What type of example are you setting for children in your life? Are you walking with integrity? Do you believe children will be blessed after you because you walked with integrity?
Worship Video: Today's readings in Proverbs remind me of the song "Then Christ Came" by MercyMe:
Proverbs 17 verse 1 is so very wise... "A dry crust eaten in peace is better than a great feast with strife." I don't know about you, but this Proverb hits home. I have eaten very simple meals in peace that have been so beautiful. And I have also eaten at great feasts filled with drama and angst and strife. The world may preach to us that the latter is better - the feast with all it's drama. But, I think the still small quiet voice of God through the Bible indicates the former is better. Which do you think is better? The peaceful crust or the strifeful feast?
Below is an image of a "strifeful feast" to say the least from the artist Rembrandt again. This is from Daniel chapter 5 verses 1 through 6 - "King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way." (As Paul Harvey would say, check out the rest of this story in Daniel chapter 5 at this link and learn what the writing on the wall means! Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin!)
I love Proverbs chapter 17 verse 3 today - "Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the LORD tests the heart." I think sometimes in our lives we tend to forget to live from our hearts. We live from our minds I think so often - and we can tend to silence our hearts. But God wants our hearts. He wants our hearts to be fully his. God oftentimes will speak to us through our hearts - sometimes I find that God's "still small voice" or God's whisper can only be discerned through my heart. So, let us live from our hearts. And let us realize that God is very interested in our hearts - and will test the purity of our hearts. The heart is so critically important for our spiritual life... how is the landscape of your heart today? What would God find inside your heart right now? Is your heart pure? Is your heart for God?
Proverbs 17 verse 5 is quite convicting for us to consider: "Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished." That is a powerful realization - if you mock the poor, you mock God. If you care for the poor, you care for God. I have a friend who met Mother Teresa many years back at her home for the sick & dying in Calcutta. And my friend when he met her was trying to tell her all the great stuff he was doing in his life and in his ministry. But, Mother Teresa really didn't care to hear about all his ministry stuff. All she said to him was "Do you want to meet Jesus? Do you want to meet Jesus?" And of course he said "Yes! Of course I do Mother Teresa." So, she led him by the hand down a hall and into a room where a man was on his deathbed. She sat my friend down at a chair by this man's bed. And she placed my friend's hands on this dying man's hands. And she said, "Now you will meet Jesus." And she left the room... and left him in the room with the dying man for about 30 minutes. And you know what - my friend met Jesus that day in a way he had never done so before. So, how about you. Do you want to meet Jesus?
Worship Video: Today's readings in Proverbs remind me of the Selah song "Unredeemed:"
Today in Proverbs chapter 14 verse 2 we read – “He whose walk is upright fears the LORD.” What does it mean to you to fear the Lord? Is it possible that for us to have some fear of the Lord is healthy? Why would fear of the Lord be healthy? Don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting we live our lives in abject fear of God all of the time. But - this Proverb is in the Bible - and it says that someone whose walk is upright fears the Lord. So, I do humbly suggest that there is a healthy fear of God that each of us should recognize. (along with a raging LOVE of God as well of course)
I once heard a pastor say a few words about Proverbs chapter 14 verse 4: "An empty stable stays clean, but no income comes from an empty stable." Basically this pastor was talking about how things were a little bit hectic around the church - due to church growth and related growing pains. And he brought up this verse, with the point being that it is a blessing that the church is not "clean" - in the spic & span sense - because this means a lot of things are happening. There is "income". There are people getting to know God and Jesus. And yes, there are some messes. But it's better than a spic & span clean stable / church where nothing is happen. I like that analogy. I also once heard this same pastor refer to church as a "majestic mess." I like that too! :) Church is not a spic & span clean place all the time. There are messes. There are humans on staff with the church - and humans coming to the church. We are not spic & span clean people all the time. And that's okay. Church is indeed a majestic mess, in the best sense of the word! Speaking of empty clean stables - let us not forget that our Lord Himself came to this world in a full & messy stable!
Proverbs chapter 14 verse 8 is great wisdom - "The wise look ahead to see what is coming, but fools deceive themselves." Jesus taught that we should live our lives not worrying about tomorrow. However - this Proverb does show there is wisdom in looking ahead to see what is coming. Don't worry about it - but pay attention to it! For example, we shouldn't deceive ourselves into thinking that we can be reckless with our health today - we should know what this will do to us tomorrow. We should see what is coming.
Worship Video: Today's Proverbs remind me of Third Day's song "You Are Mine:"
Proverbs chapter 11 verse 2 is so true and is something I personally need to be reminded of constantly - "Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Let us pray for humility...
We read a powerful Proverb in chapter 11 verse 4 today - "Riches won't help on the day of judgment, but right living is a safeguard against death." What are you focusing your life on? Is right living one of your focuses? Think it should be? (right living through your faith in Jesus of course - not "trying" or "working" to live right on your own will or power...)
Proverbs chapter 11 verse 5 stands out as a powerful reminder to not even tell white lies! "The godly are directed by their honesty."
Worship Video: Today's Proverbs remind me of the thought-provoking song "One Life to Love" by 33Miles:
I love the beginning of Proverbs chapter 8 with the imagery of Wisdom calling out to all humankind! Do you hear the call of wisdom in your life today??
Today we read in Proverbs chapter 8 verses 10 & 11: "Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge over pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can be compared with it.”
Proverbs 8 verse 13 is a powerful look at what Wisdom hates! "That is why I hate pride, arrogance, corruption, and perverted speech." When you look at your own life - do you hate pride, arrogance, corruption and perverted speech in your own behavior?
Proverbs chapter 8 verse 22 is powerful to consider as it speaks of Wisdom: "The LORD formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else." If Wisdom was created before anything else, think this lends some credence to intelligent design? :)
Proverbs chapter 8 verses 27 through 32 are an incredible look at how wisdom was there as God formed the earth! And how wisdom is still here today asking us to listen. Are you listening to the voice of wisdom? Are you listening to the voice of Truth?
Proverbs chapter 8 verse 36 today tells us - ""But those who miss me have injured themselves. All who hate me love death."" This is a powerful reminder of why we should seek and love God's wisdom all of our lives. Let us not injure ourselves! Let us not hate wisdom. Let us not love death.
Worship God: Our readings in Proverbs today reminded me of the Building 429 song "Glory Defined." Here's a great live version of this song: