Proverbs on Laughter

Today we are wrapping up our series in Proverbs. Last week, we talked about pride, something we all need to hear. This week’s topic is much needed too – laughter. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” People who do not know how to laugh are often bitter, critical, and hard to deal with. Jesus wants us to be full of joy!

 

Holy Humor

Proverbs 17:22, and the other verses we will look at, are not just pieces of good advice or good old sayings. They are the Word of God! Psalm 2:4 tells us that God laughs. He has a merry heart. Psalm 126:2 says, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” Habakkuk 3:17-18 says, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” We have reason to be merry.  Think of all the great things God has done. Jesus died for our sins. Our names are written in heaven. He has gone to prepare a place for us and He is coming again to receive us unto Himself! Whether you have a husband or not, a wife or not, a car or not, a house or not, a job or not, a degree or not, money in the bank or not, you still have something to shout about if you know Jesus!

 

Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” The devil hates laughing at home, in your marriage, and in church. Gloomy, depressed people are weak and more apt to be sick. God gave us the gift, the ability to laugh. We can’t always rejoice over our circumstances but we can rejoice in them. Have you lost your joy? David prayed, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Ps. 51:12).

 

Healthy Humor

“A merry heart does good…” (Prov. 17:22). Medicine cost has skyrocketed.  You can’t afford to be sick.  One man said, “I just got a prescription. The instructions read: Take one every time you can afford it.” I read one time where a child laughs 400 times a day on average, while an adult laughs only 15 times each day. Other writings on the topic have cited 300 or 200 times a day, but the point is that children laugh way more than adults do. Maybe it is stress or responsibility, but laughter is a stress reliever! It restores and rejuvenates. All work and no play isn’t holy or healthy. Just google the medical benefits of laughter! In John 16:33 Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Keep your marriage fun.  Keep your home fun.  Keep your work place fun. Whistle while you work and you will live longer!

 

Healing Humor

Proverbs 18:14 says, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?” Happy patients recover quicker. People who laugh longer live longer. In our theme verse, we read, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” The picture here is of a person who is so loaded down by the pressure and pain of life, they are crushed by the weight. A crushed spirit is a heart that is weighed down with worry, sorrow, guilt, or discouragement. This, Scripture tells us, is unhealthy. Stop carrying the guilt and all of the baggage of past.  All of us have done things we’re ashamed of, things we wish we had done differently, or not done at all. The fact is, you cannot change the past but you can learn from it. God does not want you crushed by the weight of past sins, mistakes, or failures. Don’t carry around the weight of worry. Give your worries and your past to Jesus. Ask Him to trade your sorrow for joy. He will! C. S. Lewis said, “It is not so much the joy of the Lord we are seeking as the Lord of joy Himself.” In the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy! (Ps. 16:11)

Proverbs on Pride

What is pride? It is important that we know what Solomon is talking about when he uses the word.  Spiritual pride is an attitude of independence from God. It is not taking pride in your work, celebrating victories, marking milestones, giving a pat on the back, or thanking someone. Lewis Smedes in Love Within Limits said, “Pride is an arrogant refusal to let God be God. To grab God’s status for one’s self.”

 

The Sin of Pride

In Proverbs 6 we read a list of six things the Lord hates. The first one listed is pride (v. 17). Proverbs 21:4 says, “A haughty look, a proud heart… are sin.” Ever meet people who think they are a notch above? The conservative who thinks he is more moral? The liberal who thinks he is more open-minded? Pride is no respecter of persons. We all want to call the shots and run our own lives. We want to be our own god. We want to find meaning and purpose our own way. However, when pride walks in God walks out.

 

The Sight of Pride

Both Proverbs 6:17 and 21:4 refer to sight – a proud and haughty look. We live in a narcissistic society consumed with self-centeredness and self-importance. It’s all about me and what I want. Pride is the need to be seen and heard. “The lamp that guides the wicked—haughty eyes and an arrogant heart—is sin” (Prov. 21:4). Pride distorts everything you see. You can’t admit when you are wrong, you blame everyone else, you have to be better, etc. Do you do things just to be seen? Is your vision distorted?

 

The Sound of Pride

There are also references throughout Proverbs to the pride of the mouth. Look at 14:3, 8:13, and 21:24. We all are familiar with this. Listen to people talk. They are politicking, jockeying for position, etc. We hear that we are to “swallow our pride,” but really, we should spit it out! Do you disregard the input of others and make decisions solely based on what you want? Is pride taking center stage in your life? Is your speech arrogant or condescending? There are no big shots or little shots in the family of God!

 

The Shame of Pride

“When pride comes, then comes shame” (11:2). “The Lord will destroy the house of the proud” (15:25). “Pride goes before destruction” (16:18). When you watch a Christmas parade, you know that Santa is coming at the end. Pride is like a parade. Where there is pride, destruction is coming. Years ago, they boasted saying the Titanic would never sink. What they said it would not do, it did. Peter said that he would never deny the Lord, but he did. We all need to be aware of the danger of self-confidence.

 

The Strife of Pride

“By pride comes nothing but strife…” (13:10). The disciples argued over who was the greatest. They argued over where they were going to sit and who got to sit on the right and on the left of Jesus. Every war, church split, divorce, and argument is caused by pride. The proud do not learn from their mistakes. They do not take advice. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Pride is a spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” We all need to check our egos at the door!

 

The Solution of Pride

“The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility” (15:33). Humility comes before honor. The humble are not after importance. In their humility is a glory that never fades. Jesus was born in a feed trough, to a poor family. He came meek and lowly to die a humiliating death. Salvation was achieved through humility and can only be received through humility. Jesus overcame the temptation of pride. Get in the presence of God. You will fall down in humility before holiness. You have to decrease before you can increase.

Proverbs on Work

As we have seen, the book of Proverbs is intensely practical. Proverbs gives us the secret to being healthy spiritually, physically, and financially. This week, we will look at what Solomon says about work. “In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty” (Prov. 14:23). Have you ever met that person who is all talk and no action? Solomon gives four motivations of why we work.

 

God Honoring

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” God created us to be doers not just dreamers. We read in Genesis 2:2 that God rested from his work in creation. He is a worker. We also read that we were created to work. Genesis 2:15 says that God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to work. Ephesians 2:10 says we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Work is not sin or punishment. Work is good. It existed before the fall. Under the curse of sin it is harder, but it is still good.  Some people have the idea that those who really love God go into full-time ministry or to serve on the mission field. The truth is, in every vocation we are called to serve God. Martin Luther promoted a Protestant work ethic. He believed all work is divinely ordained. He hated the laity-clergy division, the idea that priests, nuns, and monks were engaged in holier work than housewives and farmers.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” (Col. 3:23). God is more concerned with the how than the what.

 

Grocery Shopping

“The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on” (Prov. 16:26). Another reason we work is so we can eat! 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” No one owes you a free meal! The issue is not being able to work but not being willing to work. God always has made provision for those who cannot work. In Proverbs 6:6-8, Solomon uses the ant as an example. Ants never sit still.  They are always moving, getting food, and saving food. Hunger is God’s way of saying get a job! Get a life! As Christians we should never arrive late to work or leave early. We shouldn’t wait on someone to tell us what to do. We should be self-starters and take initiative. We need to teach our kids responsibility and a good work ethic. We need to model for them what it looks like to work a full week and then take a day of sabbath rest.

 

Generous Living

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life…” (John 6:27). We work to eat, but also work for kingdom purposes. There are so many promises in Scripture for those who are generous. Good will come to them (Ps. 112:5), their children will be a blessing (Ps. 37:26), they will prosper (Prov. 11:25), they will be blessed (Prov. 22:9), etc. Are you generous to those around you? Are you generous with your work and your earnings? Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

 

Gospel Expanding

In the Great Commission, Jesus says, “Go… I am with you always” (Matt. 28:19-20). That means, when you go to work, He is with you. “Always” means always. Many in the Bible leveraged their vocation for the Kingdom.  Joseph was in upper management. He managed the food supply for Egypt. Daniel was in the President’s administration. He was an advisor to the King. Paul was in the RV/mobile home business.  He was a tentmaker. Peter was a fisherman. Jesus was a carpenter.  God wants to use your work to advance the Kingdom. We show the excellence of God when we do our work with excellence. We show the love of God when we love the people we work with.  We show the holiness of God when we do our work with integrity.  We show the preeminence and priority of God when we honor the Lord with our tithes and firstfruits. We show the goodness of God when we are generous. Your work does not have to be boring, it can be a blessing when it is done for Jesus!

Proverbs on Wealth

Solomon was the richest, wisest man in the world. He has taught us about sex, words, anger, parenting, and now wealth. Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” As we look at what Solomon says about wealth, we must remember that money is not our provider. God is.

 

The Purpose of Living

The beginning of verse 9 says, “Honor the Lord.” Why did God put you here? Why do you get up every morning? The ultimate purpose in life is to honor the Lord.  This should be the motive for everything we do. We honor God when we crown Him Lord and we give Him the rightful place in our lives. 1 Samuel 2:30 says, “Therefore, this is the declaration of the Lord, the God of Israel…those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disgraced.”  There is more to life than wealth accumulation. God designed us to be generous, not hoarders. Life is not about being rich, but being enriched!

 

The Priority of Tithing

Generosity is usually a topic we’d rather avoid. Whenever someone talks about tithing and giving, our flesh cringes. David Jeremiah said, “Generosity is not about what’s in your bank account—it’s about what’s in your heart.” Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, your heart will be also.” Notice the words “possessions” and “firstfruits” in verse 9. Firstfruits represents the whole. Tithe literally means first tenth, the first 10%. Not leftovers. Cain and Abel brought offerings to God. God accepted Abel’s and rejected Cain’s. Abel brought the firstborn. Cain brought some of his crops, not the firstfruits.

 

Some people argue saying tithing is Old Testament, under the law, and you do not have to tithe under grace. The fact is tithing is found in the Bible hundreds of years before the law was given. Before the Law of Moses, Abraham tithed to Melchizedek. It was an act of love before it was an act of law. Abraham and Jacob gave to the Lord when they worshipped. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus gave a list of things we ought to do and tithe is one of them. The tithe is the Lord’s . You can’t give what is not yours. Tithing is just a plan to get started. “Possessions” make up your 90%. Possessions are tools God gives us to be generous. You don’t have to be rich to be generous. The widow who gave two mites gave the most.

 

The Practice of Saving

“So your barns will be filled with plenty….” Do you have a barn? A bank account? Savings? Retirement? Do you want to give, but can’t because you don’t have it? It’s so important to remember the 10-10-80 rule. Get your life in order by tithing 10%, saving 10%, and living off 80%. Whatever you earn, spend less! Spending more than you earn, or all that you earn, causes unbelievable stress. There is no pressure like financial pressure. Learn to save money.  You need an emergency fund.  Save for a rainy day. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” The Bible never says it is wrong to borrow money. Most would never have a house or a car without debt. But to the extent you borrow, you become a slave. We don’t need more stuff. We need more contentment!

 

The Promise of Blessing

Verse 10 says, “So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow….” God wants your life to be full and overflowing! Have you ever heard someone say, “I got back so much more than I gave”? Don’t let the devil cause you to doubt or question your giving! You are not crazy! It is worth it! Lives are being changed for eternity through your generosity. We develop a habit of generosity in the same way we develop any good habit.  Generosity isn’t a one-and-done situation. It’s a lifestyle. Billy Graham said, If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life.” Decide today to honor the Lord with your finances. You will not regret it!

Proverbs on Parenting

You can’t study Proverbs without reading the many passages on parenting. Children are gifts from God and parenting is a high calling. We have the opportunity to impart to the next generation skills to help them succeed and a knowledge and love for God that will be passed for generations to come. In Proverbs, we read that godly parenting involves teaching, timing, and truth.

 

The Teaching Factor

Proverbs 1:8 says, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” It is the role and responsibility of a father and mother to instruct, educate, and train up a child. The bible does not say raise up a child, but train up a child! “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13:24). To not train and discipline your child is a form of child abuse. Say and show affection often. Never miss the opportunity to tell your kids you love them. But, also show that love through disciplining them and training them. The “ABCs of Discipline” are a few ways we can train our kids. A – Have authority over their attitude and actions (Eph. 6:1). The family is not a democracy. B – Boundaries for their behavior. Set clear guidelines for your kids to protect them, but also that give them a little freedom. C – Consequences with consistency. Discuss expectations and consequences and keep your word. Obedience is not optional. Ultimately, remember that parenting is not about rules, but relationships. John McDowell said, “Rules without relationships lead to rebellion.”

 

The Timing Factor

The time for training children is when they are young. A child’s basic values and behavior systems are set by age 6. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten your son while there is hope,” and Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who loves him disciplines him promptly.” Dr. James Dobson says parents must learn discipline is not something you do to a child but for a child. Love your children too much to allow them to act out destructive patterns of behavior. The world views spanking as archaic or barbaric, but children have not changed. God knows more about the heart of a child than the experts! We do not evaluate Scripture through the eyes of the culture, but we evaluate the culture through the lens of Scripture. The bible is clear that there are two forms of discipline. “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Prov. 29:15). Spanking can be the only way to get through to a young child. However, a verbal reprimand almost always works better as a child gets older. The rod of correction is not advocating child abuse! “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Prov. 29:17). The goal is not just good kids, but godly kids.

 

The Truth Factor

“… And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). The verdict is out on all of us. None of us have crossed the finish line yet. Proverbs 23:14 says, “You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.” Children can come to know Christ at a young age. Jonathan Edwards was saved at age 8. Charles Spurgeon was saved at age 12. 90% of all missionaries are saved before age 11. The ultimate goal in parenting is that your kids have a loving relationship with their Creator. Our children are not really ours at all. They are on loan from God. They are gifts from God and will return to Him one day. The Bible is the owner’s manual. We do not want to help them gain the whole world and lose their soul. What is better? Teaching them to have a bigger house and more expensive car? Or, a better relationship with God, a prayer life, knowledge of God’s word, and a love for the church and the things of God? The greatest need of the children born into our family is to be born again into God’s family.

 

Children are often viewed in the world as an inconvenience. But, what the world sees as a burden, God sees as a blessing! Parenting is not just a job, but a joy! It’s an opportunity to share Christ with generations to come.

Proverbs on Sex

Proverbs is so practical! In chapters 5-7, Solomon has a conversation with his son about sex and immorality. What a great reminder that conversations about sex should start at home. Children are learning about sex. Whether it’s from their friends, music, TV, or the internet, what they hear from culture is incomplete and immoral. Adults, too, are inundated with what culture says. Talk to your kids! Teach them, and remind yourself, what the Bible says. Sex is a blessing and a gift from God, but disobeying God’s design can cause great pain and severe consequences.

 

The Gift of Sexuality

Look at Proverbs 5:15-21. You will see phrases such as “may your fountain be blessed,” “may you rejoice in the wife of your youth,” and “may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” God is the one who made us male and female. He put Adam and Eve in a tropical paradise naked, unafraid, and unashamed and said it is good! So how did sex become taboo and dirty? Satan perverts everything. He does everything he can to get you to have sex before marriage and then everything he can to keep you from having sex after marriage! We must reclaim the gift of sex God gave us and talk about it at home and in the church. Hooking up and breaking up does not lead to a great sex life. Sex is God’s gift to a husband and wife. It is not dirty but is a blessing! Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” God’s gift of sex is for oneness – one man, one woman, worshiping one God, in one church, living in one house, sleeping in one bed, sharing one bank account, loving each other for one lifetime. Growing old together. The most fulfilled, successful couples today are those in their 80-90’s still holding each other by the hand, caring for each other in sickness and health, till death do they part!

 

The Guilt of Immorality

Everyone has been guilty at one time or another. Jesus said if you look at a woman and lust, you’ve committed adultery in your heart (Matt. 5:28). Proverbs 5:3 says, “For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.” Solomon is reminding his son that immorality starts with conversation. It can be communication, texting, talking with an old friend on Facebook. If you are married, have each other’s passwords. You don’t mind unless you have something to hide! Verse 8 says, “Keep to a path far from her.” Do what it takes to avoid the temptation! Get rid of your computer or your smartphone if that’s where the problem is. Solomon warns, “lest you lose your honor… your dignity… lest strangers feast on your wealth” and you “groan.” Immorality can cost you your job, alimony, child support, attorney fees, and in the end, someone else is sleeping in your bed, with your spouse, in your house, raising with your kids, with your money! Sin can cost you your wealth and your health.

 

You may be thinking, I would never do anything like that. Proverbs says pride comes before a fall. There is none good, no not one. We all are capable of any sin given the right circumstances. Most affairs begin as friendship and emotional before they become physical. Some of you are in an unhealthy relationship that will become unholy if you stay on the same path. Solomon reminds his son that those who play with fire will be burned (6:28), that the shame will never go away (6:33), and that immorality will cost your life (7:22). Flee the temptation!

 

The Grace of Recovery

If you are struggling with the guilt of sexual sin I have good news. God’s grace is greater than all our sin! Proverbs 7:2 says, “Keep my commands and you will live.” The world has made an idol out of sex and it has left so many people damaged and disappointed. What did Jesus say to the woman caught in adultery? “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11). Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He paid for our sin. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Jesus brings healing. He will wipe away your tears and make all things new!  You can have a new marriage, a new start, and a new heart through Him.

 

Solomon knew something about sexual sin and the gossip surrounding immorality. His father David had a scandalous affair with his mother Bathsheba when she was still the wife of Uriah. This lead to the pregnancy of a child who later died as a result of God’s judgment. David repented, married Bathsheba and their second child was Solomon who would succeed David as King. God is the God of a second chance! You can be an overcomer today! You can be forgiven and cleansed of your sins today.   

 

Proverbs on Planning

What a great day we had at Liberty on Sunday! We praise God for the grand opening of the York River Campus and for the additional service that launched at Harbour View. What an awesome privilege to be a part of God’s work here! This week we continue through our series in Proverbs, talking about planning. All of us have plans. Students plan to go to college. Singles plan to get married. Couples plan to start a family. Maybe you are planning for vacation or retirement. The key to finding God’s plan for your life is found in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

 

Decisions

Life is a series of decisions. Every day we make decisions, large and small. Every decision involves trust. Think about it. We eat food and don’t know the cook. We get on a plane not knowing the pilot or the co-pilot. We trust these people with our lives! The only way to make wise decisions is to trust God. “Trust in the Lord….” Before you buy a car or house, take a job, choose a career, choose a mate, etc., consult God. Pray and ask God what He wants and surrender to His will.  “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Prov. 16:3). Does this verse say plan and ask God to bless your plan? No. Commit whatever you do and your plans will succeed. Commit your actions to the Lord and you will make wise plans. When we rush to conclusions, relationships, purchases, etc., we don’t always make wise decisions.

 

Direction

“…Lean not on your own understanding.” The wisest man in the world, Solomon, said to lean not on your own. Don’t trust your intellect, instinct, information or insight. Lean not on your own experience and knowledge. Have you ever tried to put something together without reading the directions? I have!

It takes time to read directions! It may add 30 minutes before you start. But, it might save you 3 hours in the long run! That is what it is like trying to live life without reading God’s directions. Take time to read your Bible and ask God for direction. He can do more in a moment than you can do in a lifetime!

 

Last week I read George Muller’s autobiography. He prayed for hours about everything.  He never asked man for anything, but asked God for everything. He took his plans to God for confirmation. God gave direction through the Word, the Holy Spirt, wise counselors (Prov. 19:21, 15:22, 20:18), circumstances, his conscience, through a check in spirit. God will give direction to you and me the same way!

 

Destination

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” All means all avenues and aspects of life relationally, financially, vocationally, recreationally, etc. Direct means to clear a path. Andy Stanley wrote a book called The Principle of the Path. Here’s the principle: “Direction, not intention, determines destination.” For example, if you want to go to the Outer Banks from Hampton Roads you have to go south. You can pack your swimsuit, get sunscreen, beach chairs and towels, but it does not matter how much you intend to go to Outer Banks, you will never get there from Hampton Roads going north! The path you are on determines your destination. Here is my take on it: Decisions determine direction, and direction determines destination. Are you going in the right direction? Proverbs 4:26 says, “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

 

Be honest. Are you where you wanted to be in your life, relationships, finances, health, etc.? What did you expect based on your decisions? Hope is not a plan! You have to do something to change! God’s plan is not just a roadmap but a relationship. It is not trust in a plan, program, or philosophy, but in a person. If you stay on the path you are on, where will you end up?

Proverbs on The Heart

Guest Blogger: Zachary Ethridge

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the heart. In the ESV translation there are 77 references to the heart in just 31 chapters, and that doesn’t include allusions to the heart with words like desire, love, long, etc. For Solomon, a heart of wisdom is central to a life of wisdom. Consider Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Keep (or guard) your heart with all vigilance. Diligently defend your heart. And this is why—because FROM it flow the springs of life. Pastor Dalton worded it like this:

The condition of your heart determines the course of your life.

In the book of Proverbs there are only two paths to take: the path of wisdom or the path of folly. Your heart is the source that determines the course of your life. From it flows your whole life. God knows if He has your heart he has your life, and Satan knows it too. The stakes could not be higher! So, if you are going to guard your heart effectively, you must first understand that there is a battle for your heart.

The battle for your life will be won or lost in your heart. You’ve never lost a battle against temptation that you didn’t first lose in your heart. So, here’s the question: How do I guard my heart? In the preceding verses, Solomon tells his son to incline his ear to his sayings and to keep them in his sight. He’s showing us a connection between the eyes, ears, and heart.

Your eyes and ears are the doors to your heart.

Consider the fall of humanity. Genesis 3:1 says, “He said to the woman…” Genesis 3:6 says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes…” He SAID. She SAW. They SINNED. When they were listening to the wrong voice and looking at the wrong thing, their hearts were turned away from God. And from that day forward, every person has been born with a heart that’s on the path of folly. We don’t love God, and we do love sin. Solomon would later write, “Who can say I have made my heart pure (Prov. 20:9)?” No one! But that’s what the gospel is all about! We couldn’t clean our hearts and lives, so out of love for us (1 John 4:19, Rom. 5:8, Eph. 2:4-5), Jesus gives us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26).

The gospel changes the direction of our lives by changing the condition of our hearts.

And yet I sense that our hearts are prone to wander. There’s still an ongoing battle for our affections. We love the wrong things too much, and the right things too little. Here’s a principle that should guide our love: Your love for something should be proportional to its significance.

We need bigger hearts for God and people and smaller hearts for less important things. To do that we need new habits and routines with our eyes and ears. What we desperately need are habits and routines that reinforce our regeneration. So, what are you looking at? You are becoming what you are beholding. And what are you listening to? What lies are you believing about God, yourself, etc.? No one talks to you more than you do. Stop listening to your carnal self and start preaching the gospel to yourself! More than anything, look to Jesus and become like Him (2 Cor. 3:8, 1 John 3:2). Listen to Jesus and live (Proverbs 4:2, Proverbs 4:22)!

Proverbs on Friendship

The book of Proverbs has much to say on friendship. True friends are rare and limited. It is estimated that most people have between 500-2500 acquaintances, about 10-20 core friends that they see somewhat regularly, but only 1-7 intimate friends. Most times, you can count them on one hand!

 

The Basis of Friendship

At creation, God made everything and said, “It is good.” The only thing that was not good was loneliness. “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone…’” (Gen. 2:18). In every stage of life, you make friends almost instantly. In childhood, toddlers play together in the nursery. Teens want to belong and be accepted.  Adults forge friendship with other adults in the same season of life. Senior adults still enjoy social interaction even when their health is declining and many of their friends are dying. Friendship has so much to do with season of life. When seasons change and you no longer see close friends very often, they are not failed friendships! This is something that is natural and normal. God gives you those friendships to make it through that season of life. You need them to make it through that period of time. Due to graduation, a marriage, a job change, a move, etc., you may leave behind friends. Years later though, you can thank God for the joy they brought you on the journey.

 

The Building of Friendship

Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully….” You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. Show me your friends and I will show you your future! Proverbs has much to say about building the right kind of friendships. We are warned against being friends with an angry man (22:24) and are told that wealth brings friends so we know to be cautious with fake friendships (14:20, 19:4,6). We are also warned against friends you can’t depend on (25:19) and against friends who gossip (16:28, 17:9). When it comes to being a good friend, we are encouraged to be friendly ourselves (18:24), to be sensitive to others (27:14), and not to overstay our welcome (25:17).

Making friends is one thing.  Maintaining friendships is another.  Les and Leslie Parrott, in their book on Relationships, say that friends to die for have the following qualities: Loyalty, Forgiveness, Honesty, and Dedication. A real friend walks in when everyone else walks out. What kind of friends do you have?

 

The Benefits of Friendship

“He who walks with wise men will be wise…” (Prov. 13:20). Friends are like buttons on an elevator, they can take you up or they will take you down. I thank God that He took some people out of my life and brought other people into my life. Faithful are the wounds of a friend… And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel” (Prov. 27:6, 9). A friend will tell you the truth even when it hurts. They give good advice. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17). Every time you are around a godly friend they make you a better person. I married my best friend. She makes me better. The devil does not want you to have a godly friend, or to be in church with a group of Christian friends. Jesus had the crowds, He had 12 disciples, and He had three men in His inner circle. If Jesus in His humanity needed friends, how much more do we need friends. The native Indians had a word for friend that meant “he who carries my sorrow on his back.”  That is what Jesus did for us. Jesus is the friend of sinners. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends… (John 15:13-15).

 

Jesus is the best friend of all. His arms are opened wide. He will never leave or forsake you. Just like Abraham was the friend of God, you can be the friend of God. A friend knows all about you and loves you anyway. Even the best of earthly friends will disappoint you and let you down. But not Jesus.  He will never leave us or forsake us. Today you can know the greatest friend of all, Jesus.

Proverbs on Anger

Solomon prayed for wisdom and God gave him a heart to discern right from wrong. In this series, we are learning how to do right. Today, we will look at the right way to handle anger. Proverbs 19:11 says, “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” What does it mean to be slow to anger and to overlook a transgression?  First, we have to understand… 

The Meaning of Anger
Anger is an emotion, a feeling of intense indignation regarding a real or imagined threat, frustration, or injustice toward you or others you love. The truth is that we all have anger! The key word throughout Scripture is slow. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry, and do not sin.” Be angry is a command, and so is do not sin. It is a sin to never get angry, but it is also a sin to blow up. Wisdom is slow to anger. Psalm 103:8 says the Lord is slow to anger. Proverbs 16:32 says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty.” Anger is natural and normal. What you do with it makes it a sin. Jesus never sinned yet He got angry and drove out the moneychangers from the temple. He did it out of love for the Father’s House and the people. Anger is a God-given capacity. What makes you mad? We should get angry over injustice in the world, not things like losing our keys or being cut off in traffic.

The Misuse of Anger
Moses, David, Jonah, and Peter all got angry and got in trouble. Take Moses for example. He paid a high price for how he acted and didn’t get to enter the Promised Land. Anger can get you in a lot of trouble. Don’t fly off the handle or into a fit of rage. Will Rogers said, “People who fly into rage seldom make a good landing.” Proverbs 14:17 says, “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly.” Have you ever said something or did something when you were mad and then felt like a fool afterwards? “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly” (Prov. 14:29).

The Management of Anger
It is so important to confront your anger. It is pride that says, “I am above getting angry.” Stop refusing to deal with it. Stop making excuses like, “God made me that way.  I just have Irish blood in me.” Consider your anger. Ask yourself, “Why am I so mad?” Sometimes we are mad over daily irritations or hurt from the past and everyone around pays for what someone else did.

It is also important to control your anger. You can control it. Just let the phone ring in the middle of an argument. You go from screaming, to a calm, “Hello.” The person on the other end of the line has no idea you were just in an argument! Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  It is not just what you say but how you say it. Anger is a choice.

Confess your anger. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Settle your conflict before you go to bed. Don’t allow the problem to fester. Don’t let the devil get the best of you. When your temper gets the best of you it reveals the worst in you. Break the stronghold and curse. Don’t pass it down to your children. Get alone with God and confess your anger and your sin to Jesus.

Finally, channel your anger. Redirect it to something else. You may say, “I’m so mad I’m going to clean out the garage!” That would be a great thing. Go exercise, hit golf balls at the driving range, etc.

In anger, the world killed Jesus. He opened not His mouth. He could have destroyed us all, but instead He took the anger and the wrath of God that we deserved. Through Jesus, and His death and resurrection, we can have victory over our anger!

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