True Substance

Proverbs 3:9-10

“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.”

It is great that the King James Version says “Honour the LORD with they substance,” because most other translations say wealth. It is also great that it says “with the firstfruits of all thine increase,” because most other translations say crops or produce.

It is great, because these words say so much more.

Giving it all

Allow me to paraphrase: “Give God everything of who you are and let God use you and what you have, and give God the first part of anything you get above what you have.”

This is not a prosperity gospel message, but if you honor God with what you have He will give you more. If you continue giving back when you get more, you will find your barns (or bank account or pantry or whatever) full and more than you can handle.

But it is because you are thinking about God and others, not yourself and how comfortable you are. It is because you are focused on pleasing God, not growing your portfolio or your bank account.

Jesus mentioned it, too

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus discusses that those who show they are good stewards of what they are given are given more. Those who sit on, hide, or squander what they are given will have it taken away. (But we must also remember that in all things “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” (Job 1:21) must be true. Even good stewards may see everything taken away if it is for the good of the servant and glorifies God.)

The true increase and blessing is the joy of our Heavenly Father in our faithfulness and commitment to Him. We honor God because He deserves it and we love Him. We give because He gives and we love Him.

If we give simply because we expect something in return, then we should expect nothing. We are not honoring God; we are honoring ourselves.

Gracious God, Thank You for Your love and Your grace. Increase Your love in us. Give us giving hearts and a will to seek after You alone, that You may be glorified in us.


No Shortcuts

Proverbs 3:7-8

“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”

An advertisement on the side of my web browser promises that if I “click here” I can learn a “weird old trick” to eliminate stubborn belly fat. Each weekday afternoon, Dr. Oz hosts a show advocating the addition of blueberries, seaweed and other “super foods” to fight off cancer and heart disease. A billboard overlooking I-24 in my city displays a lean and tightly-muscled torso, suggesting that a few quick visits to the fitness center are all it takes to achieve such enviable results.

THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS!

The achievement of health: Everybody’s looking for a shortcut! And yet, we know that it is the slow, plodding discipline of a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and the elimination of detrimental bad habits (smoking comes to mind) which yield the healthiest bodies over the long haul.

The achievement of wise living is no different! There are no shortcuts (“Be not wise in your own eyes”). Rather, wise living is the fruit of good old basic faith (“fear the LORD”) and repentance (“turn away from evil”). This, says the wise father to the son (3:1) is the only sure path to spiritual health (3:8).

NEED HEALING?

By the way, these verses suggest that by following the way of wisdom, it is in fact possible to extricate yourself from a situation of moral and spiritual “disease”, and gain spiritual health in Christ. Those who are spiritually sick can find healing and refreshment, or as some translations put it, nourishment. One thinks of Subway’s marketing front man “Jarrod”, who lost a couple of hundred pounds simply by “eating fresh”. Praise the Lord, it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17).


Trust the Guide

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

My Dad

Unlike me, my dad was brought up in a rough and tough home. At the age of 14, for his birthday, he received his first moonshine still. In high school he was one of the “protectors” who protected for a fee. Up until he met my mother in the middle 1960′s he was still running white lightning through the hills of Tennessee and building drag cars.

As a high school senior my dad benched 300 lbs.; ran track; threw shot put; was the state heavyweight wrestling champion; loved to fight; and could drink away a paycheck. But just a few years later, on the living room floor of my mother’s house, he gave his heart to Jesus Christ, and nothing stayed the same.

My Dad’s Guidance

My father was a wise man, but make no mistake about it, he earned his wisdom the hard way. And I did my best to follow his instruction, because I figured he knew what he was talking about. He had seen and done a lot, and he had the scars to prove it.

One day he told me, “Son, sin is fun. Alcohol tastes good. The devil has a lot to offer. But let me tell you, when you have friends bleed to death in your arms you’ll realize sin ain’t worth the price.” Spoken like the humble preacher he was.

When I got old enough to run wild, I didn’t. When I could drive, I drove safely. When I dated, I saved myself for marriage. Was I perfect? Absolutely not! But every time I came close to messing up I would remember my dad, his words, and his example. That remembrance helped direct my path.

Solomon’s Dad

Solomon had a father, also. His name was King David, and he also knew the cost of sin, the feeling of spilled blood.

God gave Solomon wisdom, but some of it came through the words of David, Solomon’s rough and tough dad. I wonder if the above verses were based on the following advice given years earlier?

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. – 1Chronicals 28:9 NKJV

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. – Psalm 37:3-5 KJV

Solomon surely took his father’s words to heart. Our Father asks us to do the same.

A Prayer

Lord God, I am so tempted to do things my way. I am tempted so often to trust my own feelings, to follow my heart. Help me, Lord, to acknowledge that you have traveled this way before. Help me to listen and pay attention as you guide me through the curves of life, making them as good as straight.

Related Link: “First Post” – A tribute to my father, Rev. Terry L. Baker.


Proverbial Thought is a BOOK!

Book Release!

Hey, everybody!

The first volume of Proverbial Thought is now in print! 

Proverbial Thought is more than a typical commentary; it is a collection of emotional and personal reflections, offering real-world application drawn from the lived-out Wisdom of Proverbs.

Tentative Book Cover

Click Picture to Order

Two years in the making, Christians from three countries (USA, England, and Canada) came together in a one-of-a-kind effort – write a daily commentary covering every proverb/verse in the entire book of Proverbs.

Suggested uses for Proverbial Thought

  • A Daily Devotional
  • Layman’s Commentary
  • Family Devotions
  • Study Helps
  • Sunday School
  • Growing in Wisdom

 

 

What some have said…

“Educational and inspirational at the same time – a great devotional!” ~ Cory Colquette, CPA, (board member) Men’s Ministry Network

“[A] beautifully reflective collection … [that] fabulously weaves the timeless Truths of God’s Word into the here and now… Dive into it!” ~ Heather Mertens, Author, 40YearWanderer.com

“An amazing compilation of great Truths, inspiring insights, and Christ-centered theology… [This book] will help you walk closer with the Almighty!” ~ Daniel Ziegenmier, Youth Pastor

“The modern world is changing faster than we can keep up with it, but God’s word–God’s wisdom–never changes. These Proverbial ‘thoughts’ help us apply ancient wisdom to our modern lives.” ~ Jessie Morgan Clemence, Author, JessieClemence.com

“I am blessed by all of the contributors. Thank you all.” ~ Kevin Miller, Student

Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. – Proverbs 4:7 KJV

 

 


Write This Down

Proverbs 3:3-4

“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”

Write it Down

I don’t know about you, but I can’t leave the house without a list in front of me. Well, that’s not totally true. Leaving without a list is easy, but getting everything done is not. It’s important to write things down.

Every once in a while my wife will send me on an errand to the grocery store. She will say, “Anthony, would you pick up a, b, c, and d, but only 1 of b, and 4 of a. And DON’T forget to get the c with the blue lid.” Are you kidding me? Write it down!

Necklace and Stone

In the proverb for today we read the suggestion to bind mercy and truth around one’s neck, even to write them “upon the table of thine heart.” In effect Solomon is saying, “Son, write these things down; don’t forget them.”

Unlike the “goodness and mercy” that David described following him all the days of his life in Psalm 23:6, the mercy and truth that we are to exhibit toward others is quick to flee. Solomon instructs his son (and us) to not only remember them, but bind them to us and write them in stone. Otherwise, we may forget.

When Mercy and Truth Forsake

The times when mercy and truth are apt to flee is when we are faced with situations in which we are tempted to be unmerciful and to lie. Have you ever been tempted to get even? To lie on your time sheet? Have you ever been tempted to what is wrong in order to get ahead? Don’t.

Even if you have to wear mercy like a necklace; carve truth into the stone of your heart; never let them out of your site. If you let them get away, then you will not find favour with men, nor please God.

A Prayer

Dear Jesus, never let me forget to be merciful and truthful in my actions toward others. Help me to be an example of the mercy you showed at the cross, and a conduit of the Truth that sets men free. Write your law upon my heart so that I may find favour in your sight.


The Good Life

Proverbs 3:1-2

“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”

The Lord’s Prosperity

The last entry I wrote on 2:16-19 mentioned people preaching a message other than Christ. One of those mentioned was “wealth and health,” which some have called a “Prosperity Gospel”. Something quite interesting about this passage is that some translations of the Bible mention long life and “prosperity.”  The Message puts it this way:

They’ll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well.

Honestly, I like the way the KJV and others put it “For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” Let us look at what remembering the Lord’s commands means:

Peace:

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

Long life (which I think the NIV does a spectacular job of explaining clearly):

We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
1 John 5:20, NIV

Keeping wisdom in our hearts – keeping the Lord Jesus in our hearts is the only way to peace and a good life. Jesus is the only good life.

Lord Jesus, dwell in our hearts. Remind us always of Your love and grace, and help us to share You with our world. Bless us, Lord, with all of You.


Wicked Uprooted

Proverbs 2:20-22

“That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous. For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.”

Getting to the Root

Verse 22 offers a picture of trees being pulled out by their roots. Yet roots are notoriously difficult to remove, particularly if a tree is substantial and has been established for a long time. Evil is a tree that has become deeply rooted in society, and in the world in general.

While it is easy to get frustrated about the abundance of evil in our world, it is even more frustrating when we look back because it seems as if nothing has changed with time. Three thousand years ago the writers of the Psalms struggled with the prosperity of the wicked.

In Psalm 73 verse 3 Asaph declares, “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” But David in Psalm 37 teaches us not to envy the wicked stating in verse 2: “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb.”

What Kind of Tree are You?

Make no mistake. Not just the evil, but also all who choose not to surrender their lives to God will be uprooted, extracted, removed. There will be no place for them in the New Heaven and Earth described in the Book of Revelation. But how do we walk in the way of good men and keep the paths of the righteous, so that we will not meet the fate of the wicked? Psalm 37 gives some pointers:

  • Trust in the Lord and do good (verse 3).
  • Delight thyself also in the Lord (verse 4).
  • Commit thy way unto the Lord (verse 5).
  • Rest in the Lord (verse 7).
  • Wait patiently for Him (verse 7).
  • Cease from anger, and forsake wrath (verse 8).

And you will be like a different type of tree, as described in the first three verses of the very first Psalm:

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV).

Do your roots reach into the Living Water (John 4:10-14)?


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