As the sun begins to set on Friday evening devout Jews around the world will gather in their homes and synagogues for evening prayer. After their time of prayer the family will gather around the table in their home and sing, “Shalom Aleichem,” which, in Hebrew means, “peace be upon you.” After the family sings together the father will either recite or sing to his wife the “Eshet Chayil.” You may think you have never heard of the eshet chayil, but the truth is you’ve heard it more times on Mother’s Day than any other Scripture in God’s Word. I won’t sing it for you, but I would like to read the eshet chayil to you this morning. You can read along if you will turn to Proverbs 31:10-31. Continue reading ““Press On Warrior-Woman!”
Whenever we decide that we want to take a trip it is important that we take a map with us. Trust me, you really need a map. If you or I want to arrive at our destination then we need a map. It doesn’t matter whether you are going to Seattle, Washington or Sarasota, Florida, Napa Valley, California or New York, New York…you need to have a map in order to get there.
I have a friend who made a trip to Kids Across America a few summers ago. She really didn’t know how to get to camp so she talked to her dad and told him about her predicament. Dad had the answer! He used Google Maps to get her to camp. All she had to do was follow directions. She followed every command and arrived safely at her destination.
I got to thinking about my friend’s trip to camp this past week while I was studying our Scripture from Proverbs 30. It seems to me that many of us are lost as a goose when it comes to knowing which road will lead us to wisdom, the wisdom that we need to make good, godly decisions while trying to live this life. There are so many different ideas about what we should do, which path we should take, and the course we need to follow to help us live life to the fullest. Wouldn’t you agree that there are far too many different ideas about how to proceed to the land of wisdom? It seems like everyone has their own idea of which road we need to take to really experience life and arrive in the land of wisdom. Even though we have different ideas about how to get wisdom, we all believe that we are right, that we know the best route. As much as I hate to admit it, the truth of the matter is that we can’t all be right. It is just an impossibility. Continue reading “The Path To Wisdom
For anyone who desires to reach a high level of expertise in their chosen field, passion, or profession it is important that there be an ongoing commitment to training, instruction, correction, and the continuous task of sharpening skills. You may be an aspiring student in college who desires to run a business one day. Your education is important, do it well, study hard and consistently, but never forget that your training will be ongoing, you must remain a student. You may have a desire to be a great athlete. A desire is not enough. You need competent coaches, undying commitment, perseverance for the times that you encounter injuries and other setbacks, and a teachable spirit to gain the skills and expertise necessary for you to grow and excel. You might desire to be a great father or mother–that’s a wonderful desire. You need help, you need instruction, you need role models of godly moms and dads who’ve traveled the trail, been through the struggles of parenting, and have seen God at work in the joyous times and painful times of parenting. It really doesn’t matter what field you are in or what you are pursuing there are two very important factors that will lead to the fulfillment of your desire–you need a teacher, a mentor who can guide and direct you; and you need to be receptive, willing to listen to the nuggets of wisdom and instruction that will be offered to you.
Continue reading “Solomon’s Wisdom on the Training of Children
Vision. The word stirs the hearts of millions of people who are longing for some direction in life, some sense of purpose in life. You can put the word “vision” in the title of a book and it will fly off the shelves. You can hire a coach who has vision and is willing to lead his players towards the fulfillment of it, and team morale will skyrocket. You can hire a CEO who is able to communicate his or her vision and that company will thrive. Don’t believe me? Listen to what others have to say. Businessman Bob Shultz wrote these words,
When you do not have a vision of where you want to go, then which path you take doesn’t matter. Any road you travel will get you NOWHERE. One does not have to be a BOSS to be a leader. In fact they might not always be in the same person. The world is hungry for someone to step forward that knows where he or she is going. A leader is a person who has a destination. She has a plan, a road map. He has seen tomorrow and knows how to get there. A leader knows that not all of the stoplights have to be green before he can leave the garage. (Bob Shultz, “A Leader Without A Vision Is Only A Boss.” http://www.tpmonline.com)
Continue reading “Casting Off Restraint
This week we are going back to the matchless wisdom of Solomon. Our Scripture for today is found in Proverbs 28:13-14 where Solomon tells us,
13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. 14 Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble. Proverbs 28:13-14 NIV)
Oh, the stories we could tell of how our sin has found us out! Each and every one of us has personal stories of how we did something that was wrong: we lied, we stole some thing, we were unfaithful to our husband or wife, we cheated on a test, we told our parents we were going one place when in actuality we were going somewhere else, or… The list could go on and on with examples of the things that we have done and thought we would get away with it, but we didn’t. We found out the truth of Numbers 32:23 where we read,
23 and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23 NIV)
Continue reading “Conceal or Confess?
Today we get the opportunity to turn the page in Proverbs and learn a brand new lesson. Proverbs 27 is an interesting chapter in that verses 1-10 and 11-22 are really a reflection of one another. The footnote in The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible says,
This unit brings together a loose collection of proverbs that primarily pertain to friendship. The key synonyms “friend” and “neighbor” occur in verses 6, 9, 10, and 14. Other proverbs are paired with these and indirectly pertain to the topic. The unit falls into two balanced halves (vv.1-10 and vv.11-22). These two sections parallel each other: introductory admonitions regarding relationships (vv.1-2, vv.11-12), negative teachings about folly in relationships (vv. 3-4, vv.13-16) and positive teachings about the nature and value of friendship (vv. 5-10, vv.17-22). (The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, pg. 1022-1023.)
Today we are going to focus on the first ten verses of Proverbs 27 as we seek to learn about friendship. We’ll learn as we listen in on Solomon’s instruction to his son. This is an important lesson for us because friendship is such an important aspect of life and yet there is so much heartache and pain that comes when friendships go bad.
Friendships are important because they give us a sense of belonging, they give us support when things are not going well for us in life, and they give us folks to share the variety of life with–our interests, our ups and downs, and our hopes and fears for the future. On the other hand friendships can be so devastating when we experience the hurt and pain that come from broken friendships. We feel betrayed, we feel alone, we feel taken advantage of when a friend becomes an enemy or when a friend decides that they would rather be friends with somebody else. Listen to this poem written by Heather Thomlin, a young high school girl, about the hurt she felt as a result of her “friends.” Continue reading “Friends
As we’ve worked our way through Proverbs, Solomon has introduced us to many different kinds of people. He’s taught us by teaching his son to stay away from certain kinds of folks, to be aware and on our guard against other kinds of folks, and to pursue wisdom, godly wisdom, as we live this life.
Today, Solomon goes in-depth in teaching us what is fitting for fools. When Solomon describes what is fitting and what is not fitting for the fool he has in mind a certain type of person. Before we take a look at our Scripture for today I want to go back to Proverbs 1 and take a look at our first introduction to the fool. I have to tell you that any time we get into a discussion of fools I get a little nervous since I have done some very foolish things in my life. I don’t want to live my life as a fool. I have a great desire to pursue godly wisdom, to implement God’s wisdom into my daily life, and to share that wisdom with other folks. Maybe you share the same desire and yet you find yourself making foolish decisions along the way. Is this the kind of person Solomon is describing for us, a person who desires to walk in wisdom but keeps messing up, or could he have in mind a different kind of person. Let’s go back for a minute and try to understand the kind of person Solomon has in mind. Read along with me from Proverbs 1:20-27. Continue reading “What’s Fitting For the Fool
In a world of 8 billion people it is next to impossible to avoid relationships. There are some who have tried to live as hermits, secluding themselves from the rest of society, and trying to avoid the trials and tribulations that come about because of our relationships with others, but the reality is that we were made to relate to others. In Genesis 2, after God created man, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 NIV) We were made for relationships and yet I would guess that relationships are the number one cause of heartache and hurt in your life. Relationships at home, relationships at work, relationships with others in your neighborhood, relationships with people in church, relationships with kids in your school–all of these relationships which God desires to use to bless you and to give you opportunities to bless others, are often experienced as anything but a blessing.
God has designed us to be in relationship with others and He has created us to be a blessing to those He puts in our life. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. In Genesis 12:1-2 we read about God calling Abram. God was educating Abram about His purpose for his life. Read with me what God was about to do in Abram’s life. Continue reading “How To Manage Messy Relationships
We’ve all heard the saying, “When the going gets tough the tough get going.” It’s the American way. The way of those who have gone before us and it remains the way of the tenacious and determined souls of today. My dad drilled the saying into my head throughout my years of growing up. In college, I had a coach who had a thousand sayings that he would yell at us while were going through tough, gut-wrenching practices in the heat of August. He would quote the great former coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi: “Men, fatigue makes cowards of us all!” He would get in your ear hole and pound you with, “I know men that will fight a buzz saw, but when they get tired they won’t even fight themselves.” And then there was his favorite motivational chant, “It’s alright to get knocked down, but it’s not alright to stay down. Get up! Get up! Get up!” That get-tough, pay-the-price, get-it-done mentality is not just the stuff of athletes–it’s the mindset of countless men and women through the ages who’ve faced tremendous odds and yet they’ve overcome because they refused to give up.
That get tough mindset is a real asset for us in life. Solomon takes this mindset one step further for us this morning. In Proverbs 24, Solomon gives us an added twist. Courage for our day of adversity is important, but it is equally, if not more important to muster the courage necessary to stand up for others when their day of adversity arrives. Let’s read out Scripture for today found in Proverbs 24:10-12.
10 If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! 11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. 12 If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done? (Proverbs 24:10-12 NIV)
Continue reading “Solomon’s Wisdom for When the Going Gets Tough
The task of raising children requires great vision, faith, and great perseverance on behalf of parents. There is no other task in all the world which demands such great day-to-day concentration, discipline, and selflessness with so few instant rewards. Moms, let’s face it, no matter how much time you give to your children, no matter how focused you are on being “Mom Of The Year,” there are few times in their early years, while they are still living under your roof, that your children will rise up and “call you blessed.” If you think I’m being pessimistic then just ask yourself, when was the last time your child said, “Mom, I don’t see how you do it. You work all day to help provide for our family then you come home and work so hard at making me feel so important. I really love you mom.” “Mom, you will never know how much I marvel at your selflessness. I know you are a brilliant woman, but for my sake you have chosen to stay home to be with me, to devote yourself to preparing me for life.” “You know dad and I appreciate the way you limit yourself at work so that you can be here with me in the evening. I appreciate the way you make me feel special by wanting to spend time with me instead of your friends.” “Sit down mom and dad, I want to honor you by praising you for what you do for me.” If your children have ever graced you with any of those words, or words along those lines, then you are truly blessed because that is not the norm, it is the exception.
The discipline of raising children can often be thankless. That is hard for many of us to come to accept. We are so use to receiving relatively instant gratification in most other areas of our life — we do well at work and they give us a raise or praise for a job well done. We do something around the house and our husband or wife takes us out to eat or gives a hug of appreciation. Mom, you prepare a good meal which takes hours to put together and your children say, “Can I have a corn dog instead?” See what I mean? Continue reading “The Joys and Pains of Motherhood