Wednesday, August 31: Isaiah 6- God's Call.

One of the most captivating individual calls in all of the Scripture is Isaiah. Although Isaiah already began revealing prophecies God has given him (chapters 1-5), he now inserts the story of God’s call in his life.

For me this is one of the most compelling chapters in the whole of the Bible. The imagery, the simplicity, the total surrender by Isaiah and the difficulty of his particular call, speak to me every time I read it.

Isaiah’s response, “Here I am, send me!” grips me every time.

O, Lord, I long to have that kind of absolute surrender to You that Isaiah had.

Isaiah knows nothing of the particulars, only that God has called him. There is no bartering, no fleece, not even any questions… just obedience, plain and simple. “Here I am, send me!”

This morning I found myself attentive to what comes after Isaiah’s response. Isaiah asks, “For how long, O Lord? And God answers, ‘until the cities are destroyed and the inhabitants scattered.’

Isaiah has a difficult call, he will prophet a people in decline. Continued unfaithfulness will eventually reap God’s judgment and Isaiah is called to be the spokesperson for God during these years of decline and disobedience.  Isaiah knows from the start that the people will not listen. In spite of this, Isaiah executes his call faithfully from start to finish.

O, Lord, I ask for the faith of Isaiah. Faith that immediately says, ‘Yes, when …


Monday, August 29: Isaiah 4- Grace.

Isaiah 4 has one of those odd chapter breaks.  Verse 1 continues the judgment image of the day of the Lord from Chapter 3. Then verse 2-6 paints the counter picture, God’s blessing on the faithful.

God’s blessings are spoken in language that Israel would immediately understand. God promised to provide them a land and to take care of it… so the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel (2). This is a picture of God’s food and provision.

Verse 3 describes a people picked up and made new, given a new hope and future even as they are given a new identity.

Verse 4 speaks of cleansing, likely from sin and violence.

Verse 5 is reminiscent of God care of Israel when they were fleeing the Egyptians under Moses - the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion … a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. This speaks of God’s protection, safety and presence.

Verse 6 seems straightforward. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain. Shelter and protection.

I pondered all these images. For God’s people, the day of the Lord will offer provision, a new hope, an identity and cleansing from the past along with protection and shelter moving forward. This is what God offers to those who remain faithful to Him.

I spent the remainder of my time pondering these promises of God and asking myself what I did to deserve all this.

And my only answer could be, I didn’t deserve a thing, it is all by God’s grace.

Thank You, Lord, for Your promises, Your provision, Your care, Your shelter amidst the storm… Thank You, Lord, for You. Amen.


Tuesday, August 30: Isaiah 5- From Woes to Grace.

After reading this chapter I had to go back and check. Yes, God was speaking to His people. He explains in verse 7 that the vineyard is a word-picture for Judah and Israel. The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. But His people had fallen terribly, stuck in the mire of selfishness and sin.  The verse continues, And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

As the chapter moves on, God confronts the depravity within His people Israel through a series of woes.

11-12: Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands.

18: Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes,

20-23: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.

And what do these judgments reap? Therefore the LORD's anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down. The mountains shake, and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets (25).

I sat with all this before me and shook my head. These were supposed to be God’s people, God’s beloved, the ones who knew God’s ways, who pledged obedience to God and who supposedly loved God with heart, soul, mind and strength.  What happened that they lived like this? How could they fall so far from the Lord?

The next thing I knew.  My thoughts shifted. If it could happen to them, it can happen again to those of us who follow God today.  If I am not careful, I can pervert God’s ways and find myself as far from God as Israel did.  

This sad word of ancient judgment became a warning to me… vigilant in my faith, to stick close to God’s Word, to listen to God’s Word as best as I can without the adulterating lens of my culture.

A second thought hit me. Grace is a wonderful gift. My words cannot express the wonder of God’s grace in my life and in the Scripture, particularly the NT. But I can so easily abuse grace and turn it into a license to sin and disregard God’s Ways… another warning sounded.

So I sat with God wondering; examining my life and the Christian community that surrounds and nurtures me.  Am I, are we, FAITHFUL. Capital letters FAITHFUL?!?

O, God, give me honest eyes to see myself and my faith community for who I am (we are). Now give me the courage and strength to change and move toward ever increasing faithfulness. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN.


Saturday, August 27: Isaiah 3- A day is coming.

A day is coming when God will recon things. A day is coming when God will settle accounts. A day is coming when God will judge. God’s day is coming.

What will it be like? Oh, I cannot say for certain. But God declares: Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done (10-11).

You and I can choose to believe this or we can choose to reject this. Each and every person has a choice… choose wisely, knowing you declare your choice by how you live.

Think about it.

Press this into me, O Lord… Amen.


Friday, August 26: Isaiah 2-Where is your trust?

There is a day coming when the Lord in all His glory will come. His foes will be defeated and judged and His people will be lifted up.  Scriptures call this ‘the day of the Lord.’ And this chapter speaks of that day.

Thoughts about the day of the Lord can move in many directions. What will it be like? When will it be? Will it really happen? What will happen to God’s enemies or friends?. This chapter builds toward the question of trust. Where is your trust? Where is my trust? In whom do you –I, we- trust?

The chapter concludes with this stinging rebuke: Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? (22)

Pause to consider that question for a few moments. Where is your trust? In whom do you trust? Jn what do you trust?  You can pass on these questions, glibly answer them or deeply probe your heart...

Lord, help me go deep, to look inside and examine my heart and ways. Do I trust in You or is my trust place in something/someone or anything other than You? Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.



Thursday, August 25: Isaiah 1- Hypocrisy. God will have none of it

Pius religious actions; anything but in living… God detests hypocrisy. His stinging rebuke in verses 11-17 caught my attention:

"The multitude of your sacrifices-- what are they to me?" says the LORD. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations-- I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Israel kept the rituals, sacrifices, prayers, celebrations, but neglected the heart-change living that was to accompany these religious observances. With heart transformation and how-I-live follow through, religious sacrifices and rituals are worthless.

Stop bringing meaningless offerings! … Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!

There you have it, the essence of God’s Word through Isaiah to His people.

My heart pounds.  God’s hasn’t changed. That is still what God desires!

The Spirit’s voice floods my mind, “So, Bill, consider your own life. How are you doing? Playing religion or living for Me? Which is it???”

O, God, search me and know my inner being. Purge anything wicked, any pretense or hypocrisy from me. Let me first be honest before You and others, then let me be faithful. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, August 24: Proverbs 31-

A third voice speaks Proverbs, King Lemuel instructs his son. Oh, that leaders everywhere would pay attention to these words. The world would be a better place.

Though not a governor of people, verses 8-9 pierced me. I don’t need to be a government official to incorporate theses words into my life. "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

Jesus was a champion of the poor and people in need, just read Luke’s gospel. Luke brings this out more than other gospel writers. Paul instructs care for the poor and needy and even directed an offering for Jerusalem hard hit by a famine (1Cor 16; 2Cor 8-9). Peter and the early church saw to the weekly care and feeding of widows (Acts 6). James, apostle and brother of Jesus, taught that pure religion was to keep oneself pure and to take care of widows and orphans (1:27)

I never expected that verse to roll out of my memory like sawdust out of my chain saw.

Care for those in need, orphans, widows, poor, disenfranchised, …

Lord what would you have me do? Seriously, Lord, is there something specific You want me to do as a result of today’s readings and meditations? Or is today for general growth purposes and You will give me some specifics at a later time? Who can I help, Lord?... teach me, show me. In and through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, August 23: Proverbs 30- The balancing act of life.

Life has so many facets, so many aspects, so many dimensions… it is full and complex. To live life well we must master much. As I read through this chapter, I found myself appreciating the wonder of living life wisely and well.

To do so, there is so much to master or it will master me. My mouth and the things I say. Slander and lying can bring down a life. I have to learn to guard my tongue if I am going to live well and live wisely.

Money and finances. Many a person trips and falls in this facet of life. I found myself mulling Agur’s advice to ask God that I be neither rich nor poor. Compared to the world standard, I am rich.  By my country/community standard, I am not rich. I guess it is fair to say God has granted that prayer. But being somewhere in the middle does not by itself answer all the money questions of life. I have to constantly battle the leech within, “crying more, more, and better, better.” Contentment is elusive for me in my material world.

Lord I have so much growth still needed to live well and wisely.

Agur’s four amazing things, provides me ample contemplation; life truly is a balancing act, a high-wire act. Vigilance coupled with skill and passion and risk-taking and… is needed.

And his four things that are never satisfied warns me that problems are real, that sadness and pain happen, that life is filled with conundrums, which I will likely never figure out yet must live and function through.

And so my contemplations went as I pondered living life wisely and well. Oh the help I need to avoid the minefields of life and the skills I need to master the rest so that my life will be lived wisely and well. Who can instruct me, who knows the way, where can I turn?

This too Agur understands: Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him (5).

O Lord, to live wisely and well before You… this is my prayer. I cannot do this on my own, I need You and Your wisdom. There is no other way. Teach me, please. Amen.


Monday, August 22: Proverbs 29-


Whose approval am I seeking? Whose voice drives my actions? Whom do I work to please? These are the questions I began pondering after I finished my reading.

Parents, family, employer, friends… probably the most common answers, maybe not in that order. No matter how I slice it my answer is usually someone I know, someone whose voice I know and whose face is familiar to me.

The question the text raised was, “Where is God in the equation? How regularly do I seek God’s approval and live to please Him?”  I know I could do more.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the LORD that man gets justice (25-26).

Lord, You are the One who keeps me safe. You are the One who orchestrates events. You are the great One and the greatest One. Too often I work to gain the approval of other people.  When that aligns with Your way, great! However, Lord, when Your way is not the same as the voices trying to influence me, let me hear Your voice clearly and follow the way Your voice points. In Jesus, my Savior’s name, I ask this. Amen.


Saturday, August 20: Proverbs 28- Looking over your shoulder

28:1. The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion was an interesting Proverb.

I enjoy watching crime shows. I especially like following the investigators as they use forensics to track and profile the criminals. It doesn’t hurt that they always seem to catch the bad guy, too! (If I am going to enjoy fantasy, the bad guy should lose J.) One of the often shown traits of the bad guy is that they are usually looking over their shoulder and are covering their tracks.

Guilty people do those things. What happens when you are speeding along a highway and a siren blares behind you or you zip past a police car concealed on the shoulder?  Your heart rate immediately increases, foot pulls off the accelerator and you check and recheck the rearview mirror. I’m guilty and I wonder if I just got caught.

That seems to be the impulse of this Proverb. The wicked man flees though no one pursues… Why?  Because they are guilty and they think they saw something. On the run again…

Whereas the righteous are as bold as a lion. She/he has no fear, no concern that something in the past will rise up to bite them, so they carry a confidence, a relaxed gait as they walk about.

A clean conscience matched by a clean record can do that for a person.

Nearing the end of the Book of Proverbs, I realize that this is the hope and goal Solomon has for his children.  That righteous living will groom them to be good people and good leaders.

God hopes the same for us, which is why He put Proverbs in His Word. How are you doing?

Lord, thank You for Your Word. Practical sections like Proverbs; theological and deep sections like Romans; and grace filled, yet deeply challenging, sections like the Gospels. Thank You, God, for caring enough to put Your thoughts and Your ways in writing. Give me wisdom to do more than simply read Your Word but to live Your Word. This I pray for Your glory and in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, August 19: Proverbs 27-

Any number of Proverbs provided stopping and thinking points this morning.  There were great words about friends (6, 9, 10, 17) and the potent Proverb about the heart reflecting the man (19). Thought provoking as each of these was for me, it was ‘21’ that latched on and wouldn’t let go: The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.

As I was reading this Proverb, the last three words took me by surprise. I was anticipating the punch line to be “tested by the criticism he receives.” I thought with all the previous Proverbs about fools not accepting correction, surely the punch line would be criticism or counsel or correction… or something like that.

I was wrong and I suspect that is why it stuck. I had to ponder it… hmmm, praise tests a man. Here are some of my musings that emerged.

I may or may not accept the correction of a friend or wise counsel and I am the better or worse for my decision. True. But praise slips beneath defenses, it flatters the heart and it can corrupt the soul if I begin believing my “press notices.” Some praise comes as an honest ‘thank you’ for things done well. Some praise comes as the sugar coating on a ‘suck-up’ wanting something. Question is, what happens within me when praise comes?

  • Does it go to my head?
  • Does it sour my heart (often a big headed person has a sour heart treating other people as less)?
  • Does it taint my soul?

Praise can do each of those … think about it.

Lord, it feels good when I do things right and praise comes my way. Do I simply suck it in or do I (quietly) remember to thank You for the gifts and abilities You have given? Some praise is the prelude to a ‘suck up’ Do I discern well? Do I seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to know the difference?  Lord, help me to guard my heart, because my heart reflects who I truly am within. And my heart is the best gift I can give back to You, my Lord. And I long for it to be as pure as possible a gift to You. Amen


Thursday, August 18: Proverbs 26- Fools and slackers

Two major themes in this chapter can be summed like this: Don’t be a fool or a sluggard.

·         The fool is one who won’t take instruction and who doesn’t learn from the wise or from the past.

·         Sluggards are lazy people.

As if by a semi-automatic rifle, the fool receives multiple shots in the opening verses, capped with this word: Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him (12). The sluggard takes the next four shots… with this being the final hit: The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly (16).

I find it interesting that both the sluggard and fool are ‘wise in their own eyes.’ This personality trait suggests that they can’t/won’t be taught and therefore can’t/don’t learn from others.

The Spirit’s counsel, “Don’t be that person.”

Chew on this a while…

Lord, strip arrogance from me, especially the arrogance that says, ‘I know what I’m doing, I’ve got life figured out, I know all I need…’ Lord, the best way I know to avoid this, is to come to You and to seek Your instruction and Your wisdom. Teach me, O God, through Your Word, through other God’s person and through the wisdom accumulated by Your church. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 


Wednesday, August 17: Proverbs 25- Self-control

The big picture is what speaks to me today. Ringing in my ears is the word ‘self-control,’ the ability to act based on thought rather than impulse, to understand that life is far more than the present or the moment.

A King searching out matters takes resilience and self-control (2). Not to jockey for the prime seating but rather wait for the king to bring up forward takes self-control and patience (6-7). To enjoy just enough honey but not so much that you get sick, takes self-control (16). And to hold back from annoying your neighbor also takes self-control (17). And so I observed self-control as a prime character trait in the background of many Proverbs as I read this morning.

Self-control… the ability to act based on thought rather than impulse, to understand that life is far more than the present or the moment.

I brought my thoughts around to myself. How am I with regard to self-control?  A mixed bag, I am forced to admit. Some areas of life I have it, others I don’t…

The final Proverb of the chapter was the topper: Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control (28).

Lord, Your New Testament says that self-control is one of the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Clearly my vineyard needs pruning to produce a better crop of self-control. Prune away. I pray this out of allegiance because I know that pruning can sting. But, Lord, from my head I know that pruning produces the best crop and I am at Your service and Your bidding.  Do what You know is best to shape me into the faithful man You desire me to be.

Father, this is my morning prayer, prayed in Jesus’ name and through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Tuesday, August 16: Proverbs 24- Priorities

As I begin my meditations, I find myself attracted to verse 27. The reason is not immediately obvious but my eyes and thoughts are drawn to those words… O, Holy Spirit, what is it in that verse that You have for me?

The Proverb reads: Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. In an agrarian society with changing seasons, a person has only limited time to prepare fields and grow a harvest. If you miss the growing widow, you will miss your harvest opportunity for the year. Farming is also labor intensive and far more so in the days of this Proverb when there was no mechanization. Maybe oxen might help you plow, but planting, weeding, fertilizing, harvesting, culling, etc. were done by hand. You can live in a tent, prevalent in Palestine a solid structure house is not essential, especially in the milder growing season.

As I consider this Proverb, it seems to speak about priorities…..doing what is important and essential for future welfare before you spend time and resources on what is nice and desirable but not essential.

Priorities… think long term not short-term gratification.

There are so many applications of this Proverb… applications to marriage, to child rearing, to healthy financial management, to…

Lord, what is my application point? Lord, where in my life do I need to evaluate my priorities and readjust my priorities? Show me, Jesus. Show me, Holy Spirit… that I might live a life wisely and fully devoted to You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Monday, August 15: Proverbs 23- Stingy Joy-Suckers.


The writer paints a sad but often true portrait of people given to too much drink in the closing verses (29-35) that are worth earnest thought. It is worth personal consideration, reviewing our life habits and tendencies in this arena. Remember Proverbs is the instruction of a father to his son, and we are all God’s children, right?

Where I found my thoughts rummaging, however, were verses 6-7: Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. "Eat and drink," he says to you, but his heart is not with you.

It is one thing to be frugal (I am regularly accused of this by my familyJ); it is another to be stingy. The latter often sends mixed messages. They invite you to dinner and slip in THE COST during conversation. I have gone to those dinners.  The hosts’ focus on cost sucks the flavor right out of the meal! As I think about this, I have been to meals at the home of people who survive on a meager wage, yet the food they prepared, as basic as it might have been, was offered with friendship and generosity. I’ll choose the latter 100% of the time.

Wow my thoughts spin!  The more I think about this, the more I realize I have experienced stinginess in other ways, too. For some it is not the cost they lament, but maybe the ‘time it took’ to prepare, or the ‘effort’ they went through to host the ‘whatever’. Sitting at a party or an evening dinner and hearing the host slip in comments about the cost or effort or time it took, especially when the words are accompanied by that ‘tone of voice,’ just steals the delight of the event. You get the picture…

Next the Lord probed my life… “Don’t be like that, Bill. When you give, when you entertain, do so with an open hand and a generous heart. Joy suckers……don’t be one, Bill.” The Spirit pressed into my spirit.

Lord, cultivate in me the spirit of generosity, not show, not putting on airs, but honest responsible generosity,the kind of person that makes others feel special and loved and appreciated when a gift is given or a compliment is given… Yes, Lord, cultivate that kind of grace in me. Amen.


Saturday, August 13: Proverbs 22- Playing the hand you were dealt.

Two very different Proverbs piqued my interest. Oh, where will my meditations lead??

Verse 2: Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all. Money, wealth, nation of birth, etc. these greatly impact the life trail we walk. If I was born in inner city Chicago or Nigeria or Appalachia, my life would have been significantly different. But like the Proverb states, all of these hypothetical lives and my real life have one thing in common, the Lord is the Maker of all life and everyone will stand before Him when our days come to an end. Being made by God and standing before God is the universal equalizer for all people. This thought sobers my perspective, particularly the latter element of the equation. I will stand before God and answer for how I have lived and what I have done with my life! And so I ruminated on this for a while

After a while, I switched over to verses 26-27: Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you. My first thought was how apt this word is, given the mortgage crisis in our country. How many people –duped as they my have been- felt the sharp blade of this Proverb?   if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.

Before I knew it I was pondering personal responsibility, a theme that popped out of both Proverbs. I am personally responsible for the obligations I make. When I shake hands in an agreement or sign a mortgage note, I am responsible for the terms, whether I took time to understand them or not. When my life comes to a conclusion, I alone will stand before the Lord and answer for the way I lived. I may not have any control over the ‘hand I was dealt’ in life, however, what I can control is how I ‘play’ it…

Think about it. I am.

Lord, walk into the deep places of my life with me today… probe and search, root out all vestiges of evil, search me and know my heart, that I might not sin against You. Amen.


Friday, August 12: Proverbs 21- Doing the right thing.

I found myself musing Proverb 21:3: To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Is it that God doesn’t like sacrifice? No, I don’t think so. It strikes me that the heart of the Proverb is the opening thought. God is pleased when we allow the Holy Spirit to so permeate out lives that we live as God would have us live. Following God’s voice, living according to His precepts and ways is what delights God so much more than when we do one extraordinary thing for Him.

God longs for us to live in relationship with Him, to talk and consult with Him regularly and to live routinely, doing the right thing.

These thoughts cause me to step back and look at my life as a whole, rather than at individual events. How am I doing?  Am I living rightly? Am I doing what is right and just routinely? Those are my ponderings and self examination for today…

Lord, I am more a tree than a forest person. Shed some extra grace upon me today so that I might look at the big picture of my life.  Am I living justly and rightly before You?  And, Lord, in those areas of lack, help me grow, please. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.



Thursday, August 11: Proverbs 20- God knows

I watched the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ the other day. It is a fascinating and good movie in my estimation. The movie takes place in the fictional Shawshank Maximum Security Prison. One of the interesting comments made a few times throughout the movie is that all prisoners “believe they are innocent.” The undertone is that they all know they are guilty but say they are innocent. It is one of those ironies that reminds the viewer how easy it is for most (all) of us to remember the past in ways that are favorable to our situation. Rationalization is a pervasive human trait…

Verses 9 & 12 remind me that God knows the truth. God hears what is said and sees what is done… Who can say, says the proverb author, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin"? … Ears that hear and eyes that see-- the LORD has made them both. God knows the unbiased truth about my life, your life, everyone’s life.

These thoughts lead me to some moments of reflection and confession.  How about you?

Lord, my heart is not pure. I am stained by my own sin.  Jesus, thank You for forgiving me.  Thank You for standing in my place and taking my guilt and punishment. I live because of Your grac,e Jesus. Thank You. Amen.


Wednesday, August 10: Proverbs 19- Unbridled Zeal

A gem glistened in verse 2: It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. Zeal without knowledge is a disaster waiting to happen. People who push ahead without thinking things through make mistakes that can be costly.

In woodworking there is a motto: measure twice, cut once. The Proverb is not a call to inaction, anything but. It invites people to use their head, before they set out. Another translation put it like so: Enthusiasm without knowledge is not good. If you act too quickly, you might make a mistake.

Now the Spirit’s nudge.  How might this gem be applied in my (your) life today?

Lord, it is easy to read a Proverb and move on in life as usual. Help me digest this Word that my life might be the wiser and better for it. Amen.


Tuesday, August 9: Proverbs 18- Practical Wisdom & a Proverb to Memorize


Since I began reading through Proverbs this summer I have been waiting to come across verse 17. I think in the last three weeks I have quoted (more like paraphrased) this Proverb in conversations with others. By paraphrased, I mean, I didn’t remember the Proverb verbatim but did get the essence of the proverb straight.

There are a few Proverbs that stand out in my life, ones that have helped me avoid pitfalls. Verse 17 is one of those. Thanks to this Word from God, I have trained myself to withhold conclusions until I hear both sides of a matter (don’t get the impression I bat 1000 in this area of my life, but my average is pretty good). 

This morning in God’s Word was particularly blessed because of the juxtaposition of verse 13. For me these two Proverbs together weave a stronger cord than 17 alone. Here they are. I invite you to put them in your everyday life quiver. They will be useful, I guarantee it.

Verse 13: He who answers before listening-- that is his folly and his shame.

Verse 17 The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.

Time for me to do some memory work…

Lord, thank You for the practicality of Your Word and particularly these two Proverbs. Please, Lord, help me to plant them even deeper into my life and living. You are the best God and I praise and thank You for opening my eyes to whom You are and for the grace You have given that I might believe in You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Monday, August 8: Proverbs 17- Home = sanctuary

Most often I find Proverbs describing the destination rather than the route to the destination. Take for example verse 1: Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife. This Proverb and ones like it have popped up a number of times so far in my reading and it grabbed my attention this morning. But the Proverb itself doesn’t tell me how to achieve a home of peace and quiet, instead it praises a home of peace and quiet.

I found myself thinking about those characteristics that lead toward a home full of peace and quiet and devoid of strife…

Here’s my incomplete list: contentment, love, faithfulness, laughter, fun, enjoyment, time spent together, encouragement, positive outlooks, friendship, liking one another, healthy touch, dreams, basic necessities, gentleness, self control, patience… the more I thought about it the more nuanced and long my list grew.

The questions for me that grew from all this is how do I cultivate these attributes? Are some more fundamental than others? I don’t have answers only more wonderings…

The more I think about this, the more my wonderings are viewed in a great light.  What could be healthier than contemplating what characteristics and life-attributes will foster peace and harmony in my home? That’s a good thing…

Lord, it occurred to me that the above attributes are also ones that are Christ-like, so those life characteristics that will help my home grow more and more harmonious are also one that mirror more and more closely Jesus Christ, my Savior. Hmmm, interesting how this works.

Thank You, Lord, for Your truth. By Your grace and with Your help, I want to grow to be a man that pleases You and lives for You and lives like You. Amen.


Saturday, August 6: Proverbs 16- So easy to rationalize.

All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD (2).

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death (25).

It is so easy to rationalize. We humans have this uncanny ability to rationalize almost any conclusion. I’ve done it and do it. You’ve done it and do it. We all do. What can we do about it?

I can conjuror two solutions. 1) The counsel of others and 2) an objective truth against which to weigh my ways.

Proverbs, I believe, would agree with these solutions. Over and over and over again Proverbs lauds wise counsel.  For example, Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed (15:22).  Yep, that fits with solution #1. And then there is the often reiterated refrain, ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’, which fits pretty well with #2 (as does Psalm 119).

Now the internal questions flourish, how am I doing? How are you doing?  Do you seek wise counsel and build your life on the objective truth of God’s Word?

Personally, I think applying both is significantly safer that one or the other alone.

Think about it… I know I am

Lord, help me to live in ways that honor You. Search my heart, weigh my motives and correct me as necessary. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, August 5: Proverbs 15- The Power of Our Words.

Because so many of the opening Proverbs were about our words my meditations settled on the use and abuse of the tongue. It has been said that the tongue is mightier than the sword and that is certainly true in everyday life. More lives have been maimed by the tongue than the sword. Conversely, more lives are protected and encouraged by the tongue than by the sword or any other weapon/tool.

Words cause laughter and grief or foster hate and love. Think of all the vehicles for words: normal conversation, writings (which include prose and poetry), song and ballad, reporting and journalism be it print/tv/radio/internet. Then there is entertaining words, comedy, theater, etc.

Twitter-140 characters or less- has sparked a revolution. The Protestant Reformation occurred, in part, do to the multiplication of print, thanks to Gutenberg’s printing press, The American revolution was fueled by the writings Thomas Paine and others. I could go on. Words are powerful…

And Proverbs repeatedly instructs us to use our words for good not evil, for building up not tearing down. Consider these Proverbs as you meditate and pray this morning.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (1).

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly (2).

The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit (4).

The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools (7).

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones (30).

Lord, help me today and everyday to use my tongue for good, to speak words of encouragement and cheer, truth and instruction, healing and hope. Help me to use my tongue to spread Your Words of Good News. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!


Thursday, August 4: Proverbs 14- Giving Life to the Body.

It was verse 30 that arrested my attention as I read. A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. I think it was the word picture of giving life to the body that grabbed me. Something about that image that draws me in. Maybe it is that life is too often filled with strife and hurriedness and pressure…

A heart at peace gives life to the body… Everything in me says, ‘yes this is true’. When my heart is at peace, life flows into my body.  Yes, I understand but how do I get there? What do I do to achieve this?

As my last keystrokes were being pressed, I wondered if I was asking the wrong question. After all the very nature of my question displays striving and doesn’t striving undermine peace? I’m not sure!!

I do know that the Proverb continues, but envy rots the bones.

Most Proverbs are ‘doublets’. The second part of the proverb may enhance the first or may display the opposite of the first. Knowing they are connected, I listen again, but envy rots the bones. Envy is dreaming of what a friend or associate or neighbor has. Envy is a kissing-cousin of jealousy. And my, I can feel my BP rising just thinking about envy and jealousy; they steal rest from the soul and body.

Apparently one thing I can do to set my heart at peace is to control my envy and jealousy.  Or  to put it positively, I grow in contentment with what I have -what God has given me- the more peace will flourish in my heart.

Lord, help me with contentment. Help me grow in trust of You. Help me to lay aside striving to keep up with the ‘Jones’ and to appreciate all the gifts You have supplied. I pray this in and through Jesus, my Lord. Amen.


Wednesday, August 3: Proverbs 13- A Trio of Thoughts

Three Proverbs caught my attention as I read today.

Verse 3: He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

Verse 12: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

And verse 20: He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

And the meditations sprung from those verses:

Verse 3: guard my tongue, particularly impulsive words. Rash words, impulsive promises, off the cuff remarks, angry outbursts, words spoken without thought and regard for follow through have a great deal to say about how I am to the people around me… guard my words.

Verse 12: I thought mostly about parenting.  Do I hold back things my children long for? Now, I am not thinking about supplying their every whim. But have I planted a seed about a special trip, gift, outing, adventure and then not followed through, causing them to loose hope in what I promised or in me? Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

Verse 20: who are my counselors, from whom do I listen to and learn? Who steadies my ship when it is rocking?  Their integrity and righteousness will directly affect mine.

O, Holy Spirit, is there a particular theme weaving these threee thoughts together or are these three individual correctives You have for me today? Continue to speak to me about these topics and others throughout this day. I am Yours.  Place me where You need me and use me as You desire. I pray this in the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen.


Tuesday, August 2: Proverbs 12- Discipline & Correction

   As the individual Proverbs rolled off the page, I found myself returning to verse 1. It seemed to have glue that stuck to my soul. Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid (1).

I can’t say I am a big fan of discipline but an honest review of my life shows me how important apt discipline has been in my life. Discipline has shaped me… from my parents, to my football coaches calling me out or instructing the entire team, to friends showing me blind spots in my life or to walking with the Lord. I’ve been married over 30 years (yikes!) and through those years my wife repeatedly has been a consistent and loving voice of correction and growth in my life. I can’t call it discipline per se, but her observations and feedback have shaped me into a much better and more loving and caring person.

Discipline and correction from trusted people in my life is still uncomfortable when administered –at least it is for me but has proven to be invaluable.

Now, as far as ‘loving discipline’ I’m not sure I am there yet. At least I don’t yet love the act of being disciplined. But the results… all I can say is I am a better and wiser person for it.

Solomon… thank you for these pearls…

Lord, help me to remain open to correction and discipline… all my life long until I enter glory with You and there made perfect so I will no longer need it. Hallelujah! Amen.


Monday, August 1: Proverbs 11- At the core of my soul?

The resounding question that pounds within me from this chapter is, “What’s at the core of my soul?” There was not a single Proverb that asked that question but as I moved through these sayings, that question began forming. Words, honesty, integrity, comments to neighbors, righteous living, these were some of the specific topics addressed but the accumulating effect was, “What’s at the core of my being?”

For example verse 28 states, Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. The thrust pierces to ones foundation and life pillar. Is it money, riches and power or is it righteousness and right living before God? That’s really a core question.  A person pursuing $$$ is more likely to skirt ethical boundaries or outright break them because gaining $$$ is the goal. Sadly, we have seen this too often in our 21st century world of late.

So I am back to thinking about by my core.  Is my goal, is the drive of my life, right living before God? I can answer it simply from the surface or go deeper still. The latter I believe is wiser.

You may want to go deeper into your core as well…

I join David in praying, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.