The Most Important Thing

Proverbs 17

Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.  Proverbs 17:1

How beautiful are the quiet mornings, with birds singing, the sky coming alive with color as the sun rises, and the anticipation of a new day running strong!  God seems so close, so alive with majesty, and our spirits can’t help but be caught up in that sense of eternal peace and joy.  With minds thinking nimbly, plans for the day seem so clear, so manageable.  Surely, this must be a small slice of heaven, a gift that we can receive day-by-day!

How stressful and tiring are those times when people want their own way, when voices are loud, impatient and demeaning.  Anger, fear, exhaustion and frustration seem to be hanging heavy in the air. This doesn’t seem very heavenly!

When thinking about where we place our values, where our lives can flourish, sometimes we have to be willing to give up some lesser things to gain some more important things.  Whether it’s eating a ‘dry morsel’ instead of a ‘feast’, or being satisfied with something else that is lesser than, ultimately our connection to God will bring us riches of an eternal quality that far outweigh any perceived sacrifice we might make.

May God fill you with God’s presence and joy, no matter what kind of morsel you are eating!

 

John

 

 

“…but…”

Proverbs 13

Proverbs 13 teaches by “Contrast”.  The most often repeated word, occurring 21 times in 25 verses, is the word “but”.

“A wise child loves discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” (verse 1)

“The righteous hate falsehood, but the wicked act shamefully and disgracefully.” (verse 5)

God’s Truth as it comes in “Contrasts”!

What “Contrast” offers is “Choice”.  Every “but” leads to a “between”.  We choose between this attitude or that attitude, this action or that action. In 25 verses Proverbs 13 offers 25 contrasts and 25 choices.

Just as the chapter holds contrasts and choices, today holds contrasts and choices for you.  Do any of the verses in Proverbs 13 have “your name” on them?  Do any of them describe a choice you will make today?

Know that in every contrast and every choice you can be “more than a Conqueror” (Romans 8).  There is One who loves you, leads you, and will lift you into His paths of life.  Christ is in the midst of every contrast and every choice.  Trust Him to lead you forward today!

Prayer:  Lord, my life is full of “contrasts” and today holds important “choices”.  Guide me by Your Holy Spirit so I will follow you and choose Your Way today and always!  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

Have a great and grace filled week!

Paul

 

Following God’s Path

Proverbs 12

In the path of righteousness there is life, in walking its path there is no death.  Proverbs 12:28

What kind of life do you aspire to?  What is the path God wants us to follow?  This chapter presents a series of statements that contrast the benefits of righteous behavior with the negative effects of doing evil, or wickedness.

How grateful I am to have grown up in the home, the schools, and the church I did.   I was blessed, from an early age, to have been guided to learn the values of honesty, of work, of respect for discipline.  The teaching and influence of many others has helped me in the choices I have made, and the positive, fulfilling direction my life has taken.

We all have opportunities to be a blessing to others, to give guidance, to share our love with them.  In gentle ways, our positive influence can be a ‘gift that keeps on giving’ throughout their whole lives!

 

Prayer – O God, help us to see opportunities to share your wisdom, and ultimately, life in you with people you place around us.  Thank you for loving us so much, and for your desire that we would have meaningful, fulfilling lives.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 

John

 

But Love…

Proverbs 10

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” Proverbs 10:12

Sometimes, Proverbs surprises me with simply worded profound truths.  At first glance, these statements appear so obvious that we hardly notice their life-transforming wisdom.

As I read this chapter – this little verse stuck in my head.  How true it is that once I have chosen to allow myself to dislike, pass judgment, or even hate another person…strife is stirred up!  Actions are judged harshly, words are not trusted, anger and temper flares quickly.  My hatred leads to more quarrels, ill will, and hatred.  It is almost as if hate begets more hate.

But when I love someone – that love covers all!  I will overlook or quickly forgive misunderstandings, impatience, poorly chosen words, and even seemingly insensitive actions.  My love leads to more understanding, compassion, and love!  Because love begets more love.

And when we in the church choose love – a world that is hungry for compassion, acceptance and inclusion may finally be able to follow the light of that love directly into the Kingdom of God.

Blessings,

Suzan N. Meyer

Words of Wisdom

Proverbs 8

“And now my children, listen to me…”

In the Book of Proverbs Wisdom becomes a person.   She is given a voice.  She summons us to be listeners and learners.

Her call comes “on the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads, beside the gates, in front of the town, at the entrance to the portals …”.  There is something to be learned, wisdom to be gained in almost every place and from every person.

Wisdom’s voice can be heard in many voices.  Maybe it’s in the words of a mother or a father, a sibling or a friend.  Maybe wisdom speaks in the words of an author or the Word of the Scriptures.

Wisdom’s lessons are “life lessons”.  “Whoever finds me finds life” (vs. 35).  They are lessons from someone else’s experience that helps us avoid making the same mistakes (“those who miss me injure themselves”, vs. 36).

This week be a listener and a learner.  Be ready for all the whispers of wisdom that are about you in life!  They are gifts of God, so give thanks!

Prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your Wisdom and for the ways You would be teaching me everyday.  By Your Spirit let me be a listener and learner, that I might grow in Your grace.  In Jesus’ name I pray.

Have a great week!

Paul

The Power of Remembering-Gratitude

Proverbs 7

My child, keep my words and store up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live, keep my teachings as the apple of your eye;
Proverbs 7:1-2

So many people have the mistaken notion that being a Christian means you’re against this, against that, don’t do something, can’t do something else.  If there was ever a refute to that, it is Proverbs!  Over and over the writer says things like “follow this path, it will lead you to joy,”  “act in this way and it will bring rewards to you,”  “follow these guidelines and be fruitful and blessed”!  That’s doesn’t sound so negative to me!

Occasionally though, there are words of admonition not to do certain things.  Breaking ones’ commitments and marriage vows is mentioned rather frequently in Proverbs.  The writer seems to be especially diligent to warn us about the soul-damaging consequences of those behaviors.

I wonder what kind of mindset could fortify us in our marriage relationships?  What are the positive steps we can take to rejoice in the here and now?  What thoughts of gratitude can we have so that our lives feel full to the brim?  I challenge you to make a list of your gratitudes.  If you’re like me, that is going to be quite a long list……………definitely something to rejoice in!

 

John

 

Common Sense

Proverbs 6

‘1 My child, if you have given your pledge to your neighbor,
    if you have bound yourself to another,[a]
you are snared by the utterance of your lips,[b]
    caught by the words of your mouth.”

Like much of Proverbs, this chapter deals with good old “common sense”.  Like most sin, we often don’t think of the consequences when we first commit them.  Proverbs has a way of reminding us why we should stay on the straight and narrow.  For example in verse 1 and 2, it talks about a pledge with our neighbor.  If we don’t follow through on a pledge we have made with our neighbor there can be long-standing consequences that can follow, like lying, laziness, crooked speech just to name a few.  I reminds me of another place in the new testament where the bible talks about “Loving Our Neighbor”.  After first reading of Proverbs 6, one would think it best to never make a pledge to our neighbor but that pledge comes with being a follower of Christ.

How differently would our world look if we worked as tirelessly as Proverbs describes to keep a pledge to our neighbor?

Blessing

Bert K. Johnson

Be Attentive to my Wisdom…

Proverbs 5

“My child, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding.” Proverbs 5:1

Wisdom has been defined as experience, knowledge and good judgment.  Although you and I may often fantasize about being our younger selves again, it is true that a certain amount of wisdom is acquired through our life experiences.  There are certainly exceptions to the rule, but it seems to me that the tough times we go through often become our most effective teachers.

And yet, wisdom can come to us in other ways.  Seeking wise counsel can help me discern a better choice.  Observing what others have done in similar situations could lead me to exercise good judgment.  Your experiences can actually add to my wisdom.

But all of this would require us  becoming vulnerable with one another.  As we openly share our struggles and challenges, as we listen humbly and observe, as we walk alongside one another through the good days and the bad – it seems to me that we could, in fact, learn from each other’s stories.

And maybe, just maybe, we would begin to incline our ears to one another’s understanding, as we learned to “be attentive” to the wisdom of others.

Blessings,

Suzan N. Meyer

 

Acknowledgments

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge God and God will direct your paths.”

As I come into each new day I easily focus on the demands before me: my agendas, my goals, my needs, my wants.

These two verses challenge me to expand my vision, to ask the large and sometimes puzzling questions: “What would God want in the day ahead?”; “What would Jesus do with the circumstances before me?”

These two questions invite me to “acknowledge God”.  And even as I do, God guides and directs – through the word of a friend, a Scripture verse that comes to mind, an insightful thought, a “prompting of the Spirit”, maybe even a word of correction or confrontation.  As Jesus says, when we ask, we will receive.

Pause to ask the “God” question – acknowledge God – and know that as you do there will be a direction of grace in your day!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the gift of this day and the opportunity You offer to acknowledge You and find how you will “direct my path”.  In Jesus’ name. Amen

Have a great and grace filled July 4th week!

Paul

 

Lord, Which Way?

Proverbs 2

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;  Proverbs 2:6

Everyone has an opinion about what is right, what will make us “happy, wealthy and wise”!  Which path should we take?  What is true?  How can we navigate the choppy waters of modern life?

Thousands of years ago, people were considering these same questions.  The writer of Proverbs says that by seriously desiring wisdom, we will find the knowledge of God, the source of all truth, wisdom and understanding.

Just today, I found myself needing to stop and ask God what the truth was about a situation  I was contemplating.   The question was answered when I realized I was seeking to impose my own will, rather than allowing God’s option and direction to take charge.  That resolution to what was a relatively simple issue made me realize, yet again, with gratitude, that we are not alone while navigating the paths of life.

What a great gift God gives us all – wisdom , knowledge, and most of all, God’s self!

 

John