God's Wisdom brings hearts and spirits together. Foolishness drives hearts apart.

The beginning of wisdom is understanding that any man (or woman) who thinks himself wise in his own eyes... is more likely a fool. The truth is, most of us have at least of few areas of our life which are prone to cling to foolishness.

Thankfully, there is much wisdom to be gained in reviewing the Book of Proverbs. The following daily devotions are my reflections on what God impressed me most from reading and reflecting upon Proverbs for 31 consecutive days.

I have had the joy of sharing these daily thoughts with family, friends and associates via email and have been very encouraged to hear good reports back. Therefore, I am posting these "Nuggets of Wisdom" from Proverbs online as my way of expressing gratitude to The Giver of all Wisdom from above and within.

With gratitude,

David Bradshaw
My Idea Factory

Proverbs 1

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
8 Listen, my son, to your father's instruction
and do not forsake your mother's teaching.
9 They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.

Proverbs 1 reinforces that wisdom, understanding and prudence result from following God's ways and ignoring the world's ways. This process is supposed to begin in childhood with godly instruction from parents, then lead to choosing godly friends and ultimately a godly mate. But it does not always work out that way, as we make some foolish decisions in the course of growing up...so at times in our life we must "take another lap around Mt. Sinai" as the old song says before we can enter God's promised land and learn the lesson God wants to teach us. Sound familiar? If so, be of good cheer, God is verrrrry patient when it comes to preparing His people to rule and reign with Him in eternity. So must we be.

20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:
22 How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
I will make known to you my teachings.

These verses tell us that wisdom is all around us, not hidden, if we have ears to hear it. It takes humility to hear God's still small voice and be willing to repent at times of God's chastisement. Likewise, it requires God's grace to accept a rebuke from family and/or friends. Christians are called to be a city set on a hill, which means we must be willing to give and receive God's wisdom aloud, on top of walls, at city gates ... or in our most private conversations. We must never be ashamed of sharing the truth with anyone.

Our reward is precious ... God promises to pour out His thoughts into us and gives us the Holy Spirit to understand and apply them in our life. It all starts with a healthy fear (or respect) of the Lord. So today Lord... we commit our life to respecting You, listening to Your Wisdom and then sharing it with all that you put into our path.

Proverbs 2

1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.

Proverbs 2 reminds us of the many moral benefits of wisdom IF we are willing to apply our heart toward it ... to the point of "crying out" for it. As discussed wisdom is all around us but unless we have eyes and ears to see and hear wisdom it can remain a mystery. We must, like good prospectors pan for the hidden treasures of the knowledge of God. As a result we become successful, blameless, shielded, protected by Him from the perverseness of evil words & deeds.

16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God.

What can save a man from the snares of the flesh? You got it; wisdom. Wisdom counts the cost of everything we say and do with a heavenly yardstick. Today we are living is a culture that has forsaken the concept and importance of making "covenants" - life-long commitments to God, family and in business. We have all made foolish mistakes in the past, but wisdom keeps us on the right path going forward. Thankfully our God is a forgiving God, 100% willing and able to cleanse us from the past blunders. Praise be unto HIM forevermore!!

Proverbs 3

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

This familiar and often quoted verse underlines our natural tendency to lean on our own understanding to fix problems. The idea of submitting to one another and to God often rubs us the wrong way. Our flesh sees it as a sign of weakness. Yet Scripture tells us just the opposite and explains why our flesh cannot be trusted. Submitting to the Lord in ALL our ways is a lifetime adventure of dying to self, but the result of having God straighten our path is well worth it.

9 Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

This passage reveals the key to prosperity as being our willingness and obedience in our giving and the ultimate reward on earth for good stewardship of God's resources. If we understand that everything belongs to the Lord then we can see the joy it brings to Him (and us) to give Him our firstfruits rather than our left-overs. It is more of a heart attitude of gratitude than a strict duty. God wants to bless us beyond our wildest dreams ... not just for our own pleasure but so that we can be a blessing to those in need around us, which is a further expression of His lovingkindness to a hurting world.

11 My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.

This verse at times can be a tough pill to swallow because it requires discernment of the Holy Spirit as to whether a rebuke is indeed from the Lord ... or from the enemy of our soul and spirit... which could be an attack. The Lord's discipline could come via another Christian, or our family or in any one of hundred other ways. The motivation is key...the Lord's discipline is always based in Love, not in judgment. As our loving Father in heaven He wants only what is best for us, which may mean chastising us from time to time so that we can better understand His boundaries in our life are for our own good. A rebuke that is not from God should be shunned and even shielded with the armor of God, which is able to repel the fiery darts of false accusations.

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.

This verse underlines that God has given a conscience and deep sense of right and wrong to every person. When our heart is full of God's love the Holy Spirit empowers us to act on it. When we are too busy or distracted we miss divine opportunities to minister to those around us. Whether just a simple smile, financial aid, a helping hand to a neighbor or whatever ... the power to do good is an important part of the power of God to reach out.

Lord, today we trust You with all of our heart and commit ourselves to giving all we can to build Your Kingdom. We will obey your voice of discipline, when needed, and will not withhold our time or talents from reaching out to family, friends & neighbors, for in doing so we are bringing a small piece of heaven down to earth.

Proverbs 4

6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
9 She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.

I love Proverbs 4 because wisdom is characterized as "she". In fact, we are told to cherish, embrace and adorn wisdom in much the same way as we would a precious wife. Just as a godly wife exalts her husband, crowning him has the head of the home and spiritual leader of the family. In reality, it is both the husband and wife that encourage and protect each other from evil. Your spouse is a priceless gift worthy of "all you have."

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.

Scripture tell us His Word is a light unto our path. It begins anew with the rising of each morning sun. First things are very important. Mornings can often set the tone for the whole day. First words, first thoughts, first meal, first thankfulness. We all have bad days occasionally, but greeting the day with a smile and kind words has the spiritual effect of cleansing and preparing our heart and mind for any crisis or trial we may face that day. Today Lord, I will rejoice that I am a child of the Light, thankful that you have given me wisdom and that she will guard my heart from darkness.

Proverbs 5

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.
16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?
17 Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers.

Proverbs 5 is a timely warning to men about how to fight the temptation to stray outside of their marriage. Although this is an ancient problem, it seems to be at epidemic levels today.

Last week USA Today ran a front page feature asking "Is Dating Dead?" ... less commitment, more "hook-ups," is the trend with 75% of young people. Yet there is also reverse trend now emerging. About 25% of young men and women ages 18-24 are now waiting to have sex. I think this is a refreshingly good sign of the times!

18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man's wife?
Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?
21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD,
and he examines all your paths.

God wants us to be blessed, to rejoice in the relationship we have with our partner at every level. This takes hard work, and even then sometimes fails. The idea of being intoxicated with the love of a godly woman is part of God's special design and plan for marriage. It requires turning away from the lust of the flesh and eyes, which given today's revealing clothing on women, is often a bigger challenge for men than women.

Lord, today we give thanks that you alone can keep us pure in our marriage and relationships. We pray for the young people, our kids and grandkids that you will keep them close enough to you to resist the temptations of this world. We praise Your Name that even though the world sometimes appears like Sodom & Gomorrah ... the number of righteous is also growing in power and strength! May husbands and wives help teach the next generation the joys and blessings of being satisfied from their own cistern.

Proverbs 6

1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
2 you have been trapped by what you said,
ensnared by the words of your mouth.
3 So do this, my son, to free yourself,
since you have fallen into your neighbor's hands:
Go, to the point of exhaustion,
and give your neighbor no rest!
4 Allow no sleep to your eyes,
no slumber to your eyelids.
5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

Proverbs 6 offers warnings against the dangers of presumption in finance and business as well as falling prey to the lust of the eyes. The sin of presumption is promising to do more than God has told you to do. In finance this could be borrowing more money than you can repay. Vs. 1-2 speaks of putting up security for a neighbor and shaking hands in a pledge to strangers. Although it may have been with the best of intentions, Scripture warns us of the unintended consequences of being indebted. The Word tell us the only pathway out to freedom is hard work. In contrast, we are told to consider the ant, storing provisions in good times so that we can be a blessing to our family and neighbors during bad times.

16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

It is important to know what God loves... and what He hates if we are to be wise. We are told to guard our eyes, our tongue, our hands, our heart, our feet, our truth and our gossip. All of these elements of our life have both the ability to bless others or to curse them. Thankfully God has given us His full armor to protect us from outward attack of all of these, starting with helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with preparation of the gospel so that we can be messengers of truth, peacemakers among men and humble community builders.

25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty
or let her captivate you with her eyes.
26 For a prostitute can be had for a loaf of bread,
but another man's wife preys on your very life.
27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap
without his clothes being burned?
28 Can a man walk on hot coals
without his feet being scorched?
29 So is he who sleeps with another manís wife;
no one who touches her will go unpunished.
30 People do not despise a thief if he steals
to satisfy his hunger when he is starving.
31 Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold,
though it costs him all the wealth of his house.

The problem of lusting in our heart is one that has brought down many great men... whether for another man's wife, or another man's wealth, or power, or notoriety, or .... the list goes on. At the root is an ungodly discontent with what God HAS already given us. The sin of envy and lust are widely promoted in the mass media as the norm, yet in God's Kingdom we already have everything we need, if we would just open our eyes to see it. Lord, today we give you thanks for all that we have. We ask your forgiveness for the areas of our life that we may fall short in. Give us Your wisdom to love what You love with a pure, clean, heavenly love!

Proverbs 7

21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
22 All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
23 till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life.

Proverbs 7 is a warning about adultery and forbidden sex, which usually has devastating consequences to an individual, a marriage and a family. Adultery shatters trust, intimacy, and self-esteem. It breaks up families, ruins careers, and leaves a trail of pain and destruction in its path. What can be done to reverse this tidal wave before is destroys our society?

Researchers find that more than one-third of men and one-quarter of women admit having had at least one extramarital sexual experience. Today we have movies, magazines and books that all glorify adultery, often depicting a happy ending despite such behavior. But the reality is quite the opposite. 65% of marriages end in divorce as a result of infidelity.

Sadly, a recent survey by Christianity Today found that adultery is not only rampant in society but also in the church. This sad fact should be a wake up call that if we don't meet our spouses needs ... somebody else will, whether you are both Christians or not.

Dr. Willard Harley in his book His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage lists five primary needs for a man and five primary needs for a women. He believes that unmet needs, by either partner, are a primary cause of extramarital affairs and not just physical attraction.

Women are from Venus in the eyes of most men. Women have a strong need for security, affection, conversation, honesty and openness, family and financial commitment. Without any one or all of these vital elements there is no foundation on which to build a solid relationship or regular intimacy in the marriage bed. Instead of growing toward her spouse, she grows away from him if her needs are unmet.

Men are Marsians to most women because we have very different needs, which few women really understand including; sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, physical attraction, appreciation and even admiration. If any of these basic needs go unmet men become vulnerable to the temptation to have an affair.

Pastor Tommy Barnett of PHX First Assembly often says that the goal of Christians in society (or I would add in a marriage) is to "find a need and fill it!". The problem in many marriages is communicating with our spouse what are deepest needs are, which then equips our partner to really understand our needs and then ask God to help us fill those needs.

Lord, today we ask you for the supernatural ability to meet our partners needs, so that neither falls into temptation to look outside the marriage for fulfillment. We also lift up the millions of broken families, damaged children and lonely divorced singles in our nation, perhaps even reading this devotion. May we now learn from our past mistakes, accept your forgiveness and put You in the center of all new relationships so that we are in a place of preparedness for mutually fulfilling relationships in the future. As the bride of Christ, we humbly ask that your Spirit keeps us holy unto you... and to each other.

Proverbs 8

1 Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?

This is a rhetorical question for those who think wisdom and understanding sit in silence, hidden from plain view. The truth of Proverbs 8 is that wisdom is everywhere for those with ears to hear it above all the noise in our lives.

10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Vs. 10-11 confirms that godly wisdom and knowledge transcend all earthly wealth and human desires. In fact, God has given us the power to create wealth so that God's truth, knowledge and wisdom of His Kingdom can be expanded evermore. As Pastor Barnett says: "If you don't have a so that, so what?"

22 ďThe LORD brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields
or any of the dust of the earth.

This passage informs us that wisdom was the very first of God's amazing creation work, including the earth itself! This gives us a clue of the importance of walking in wisdom, which is so much more than mere facts, or human experience or human knowledge... it is knowing the mind, heart and spirit of God himself. We are told in the New Testament to wash our mind daily with His Word because we are bombarded with dirt which otherwise just accumulates.

30 I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the LORD.

As His Word cleanses our heart and mind it brings a song of praise to our mouth... and throughout the whole world. Even the trees clap their branches in His presence Isiah tells us.

Lord, today we give You thanks for Your wisdom which is calling, watching, waiting in the doorway of our heart. We thank you in advance for Your favor upon us, our families and everyone you place in our lives!

Proverbs 9

1 Wisdom has built her house;
she has set up its seven pillars.

What are these seven pillars on which the wisdom of God is built? Not much detail is given, however historically the "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" are categorized into three essential themes that dominate every worldview: God, the Universe and Man.

1. The Origin and Nature of the Universe
2. Dimensions of Existence
3. Cycles or Ages of the Universe
4. The Nature of Man
5. The Nature of Salvation
6.The Ultimate Destiny of Man
7. The Nature of God

So in short, these pillars represent the basics of our worldview, whether based on God's Word, another religion or man's vain philosophies. Everyone has a worldview, whether spoken and understood or not.

For Christians it is vital that we understand our relationship with God determines our view of the universe, whether we think our world is a cosmic accident or created by a loving God.

In Matthew 5:3-9 Jesus boils the Christian worldview down to His own seven pillars of wisdom and blessing...

1 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
3 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
4 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
5 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
6 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
7 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Notice that everyone of these pillars carries a special blessing and promise. Unlike other religions Jesus' pillars stand upon His finished work of the cross, not our efforts. Humility, empathy, meekness, righteousness, mercy purity and peacemaking are all unmerited gifts of God.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through wisdom your days will be many,
and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

Wisdom has many rewards in our life we are told, but fools and mockers suffer, both in this life and the next. The foolish fear almost nothing in life because they do not understand they have a divine purpose and calling. The missing element is a healthy fear (or reverence) for their Creator.

Lord today, as we reflect on Your Wisdom and grace freely given to us, we pray You will help us understand Your worldview of love, healing and hope for the future. May we build our lives on the firm foundation of Your Word, and be prepared to share it with those who need it most.

Proverbs 10

9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

"Believability is more than words, it is the integrity of the individual."
"A man's word is the expression of his nature."
-Dr. Ed Cole

Integrity in a husband gives his wife and family security. When our actions and words mismatch integrity suffers. "Be sure your sin will surely find you out" says Num. 32:23. Avoiding crooked paths means making the right choice at a moment's notice should become a reflex action over time. The good news is that once we admit and repent for our sins they can be forgiven through the atonement of Christ.

Deception starts within our-self when we fail to listen and obey to the voice of wisdom, the Holy Spirit. The reason lies are always revealed is that God is truth and He wants us to walk securely as a witness to the world of His loving and forgiving nature.

17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

This insightful verse explains the value of discipline in our own lives as well as the impact upon others. Words of chastisement can be painful and hard, but the Word tells us that "afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness."

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
but the righteous stand firm forever.

This verse is a timely warning that storms in life are coming, not if, when. Righteousness or "right living" allows us to walk in peace knowing we are building our life and household upon the solid Rock.

28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,
29 The way of the LORD is a refuge for the blameless,
30 The righteous will never be uprooted,
31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom,

These are the last verses of this chapter promising the wise can expect to live in joy, peace and righteousness and enjoy the fruit thereof. Fruit is sweet and healthy.

Lord, we ask forgiveness for any areas of our lives that do not reflect integrity and therefore lack security. Help us develop more discipline for both our own good as well as those around us who are watching and learning.

Being a Christian man means: standing firm during the trials and temptations of life. Teach us how to bring forth a sacrifice of praise unto the Lord in all circumstances.

Proverbs 11

Proverbs 11 is very rich in wisdom especially. Starting with economics, then on to politics, salvation of a nation and ending with the benefits of being a cheerful giver.

1 The LORD detests dishonest scales,
but accurate weights find favor with him.

This is the most basic business and economic law. A dishonest money system based on debt and weightless currency is a violation of sacred trust. Money without any weight has no store of value over time... which is one of the 4 characteristics of true, hones, biblical and constitutional money... gold and silver.

4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.

>From economics we move on to preparation for judgment, which is coming to each of us one day. Thankfully our sins which we have repented of, are 100% forgotten, washed away and never to be brought up again by God. Glory to His name! We will each be rewarded according to our stewardship of time, talents and servanthood ... then our Master will give us a heavenly work assignment to rule and reign with Him in the universe. That's BIG!

10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,

These verses fly in the face of the politics of envy, which attempts to create class warfare between the haves and the have-mores ... to distract everyone from the truth. When the free market rewards hard work with wealth it is a blessing to all involved ... rich and poor ... cities should rejoice not envy successful people who live upright ... they are the ones helping to create that 'city on a hill' that the world looks to for inspiration... but if our light is dimmed by bad leadership God may choose to replace them with more godly leaders.

14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but victory is won through many advisers.

This a candidate for my favorite verse in Proverbs. Where is the guidance coming from in our nation? The media? The Gov't? Public schools? the church? You tell me. Not enough impact by the church if you asked me. The solution, the victory is arrived at by a multitude of counselors pooling their wisdom and bringing a nation into alignment with the Word of God.' Sadly this vital treatment rarely can be given in time to save a nation in steep decline. It is part of the mission of the church to be the salt and light ... preserving and enlightening a world that has forsaken its godly foundation.

24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

Here is another confirmation that givers in life always gain more than takers in life. Not just financially, but in relationships, business, ministry, you name it.

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and the one who is wise saves lives.

Proverbs 12

4 A wife of noble character is her husband's crown,
but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

It is interesting to note that while the Scripture teaches that the man is the head of the family and serves as a covering of protection... it is the woman who sits on top of the husband's head as the crown! A crown is the symbol of power, wisdom and rulership... yet it is gained only by noble character, forgiveness and humility. A crown is a precious representation of God's gift of unmerited grace and love, much like the grace and love of a godly mate.

9 Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

While some people yearn for wealth or power, some just want others to think they are somebody special. The reality is that we are somebody very special to God and no amount of pretending to be important among men will fill that void. Only God fills our emptiness for appreciation, love and specialness.

It is during our times of worship and appreciation for Him that He affirms who we are... sons and daughters of the Lord almighty... which is about as far as you can get from being a nobody. I firmly believe that heaven will be filled with God's humble servants and devoid of pretenders. Sadly, until a man or woman acknowledges they are a nobody before God, the remain a nobody without Christ living inside of us to both men... and God.

18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Scripture tells us the tongue is the most unruly part of our body because of the damage it can do to another's heart. Bringing our words under the Lordship of Christ is truly a lifetime project for many Christians. This is why we are told to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Yet most of us tend to switch the order without ever giving it a thought. Who among us does not want to bring healing to those around us? Then we need the wisdom of God flowing to us and from us, every time we open our mouth.

26 The righteous choose their friends carefully,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Friends are a reflection of our true self. The company we keep says a lot about our values, choices and habits. The same is true of our children and grandchildren. Friendships are forged over time and the trials and blessing of life. We must always keep our standards up so as not to cause friends to stumble over our thoughts or actions. It is the responsibility of a good friend to speak the truth in love, even if it means correction or chastisement on occasion.

Lord today we give you thanks for noble wives ... humble servants ... controlled tongues ... and our dearest friends!

Proverbs 13

Today we learn of the value of guarded lips, open hearts, the downside of dishonest money, hope deferred and stewardship of our grand children's inheritance.

1 A wise son heeds his fatherís instruction,
3 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,

Show me a wise father and you will find a good son or daughter in the making. Getting kids to listen is not easy these days. Too many distractions and noise. To me guarding my lips means envisioning the Holy Spirit standing guard over my thoughts and words before they come out of my mouth. Heeding instruction means being teachable even if the teacher rubs you the wrong way. Knowing God is shaping and molding us into His image.

10 Where there is strife, there is pride,
but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Whether in the home or at work, how we deal with problems is a visible expression of our humility. The wise rarely argue or create strike, but rather search to find the truth in others advice.

11 Dishonest money dwindles away,
but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.

This is one of the many verses dealing with dishonest money, a false balance. You could say this is one of the first descriptions of what happens to dishonest money over time ... it dwindles away to nothing, due to inflation (that is, the printing of more and more dishonest money).

In sharp contrast whose who gather "money" (which biblically is gold and silver) little by little watches it grow. Like the wheat and the chaff ... they both grow to maturity together (dishonest and honest money) but in the end we all know what will happen ... the flames of economic inflation will destroy paper/dishonest money. Yet the flames do nothing more than purify the honest money ... and men ... and women. Moral: save real money little by little and your wealth will grow, no matter what befalls the earth (or Wall St.).

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

This is a challenging verse for those who have sat patiently waiting on the Lord for something ... and yet it just never seems to materialize... Then suddenly BAM! God moves to fulfill our prayers and desires of our heart ... and we again feel secure planted by the Tree of Life. The problem is having the patience to wait in today's microwave society. Waiting feels out of step with most around us. Yet it is the waiting that we learn to love wisdom as she wraps her arms around hungry hearts and fills them with joy. I like that wisdom is referred to as a she -- like a mother or big sister guiding and comforting us always.

22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children's children,
but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous.

Finally a word to spendthrift parents, politicians and the like. You've no doubt seen the bumper sticker ... "I'm spending my grandchildren's inheritance!" Proudly announcing they are tired of sacrificing and now feel it is their turn to be self-indulgent.

According to this verse the sticker should first state: "I'm a bad person". This notion underlines how the enemy wants to attack the family in many ways, such as ... parents not saving for the future ... kids not serving their parents in old age ... and grandparents struggling to make ends meet on fixed incomes due to the rising cost of living ... Trust me, the devil has had a heyday in splintering the generations.

Why? Because there is a special power of a threefold cord. Building a family legacy between 3 generations or more was God's original plan to build a healthy society. My how far we have fallen from His perfect plan. But our God is a God of preparation, stewardship and restoration.

Lord, today we praise your glorious Name for you are rebuilding inter-generational concern one heart at a time ... We will guard our lips from speaking negative today ... We will shun dishonest money ... We seek to leave an inheritance to future generations, not just of worldly wealth... but of wisdom!

Proverbs 14

Today we move from bitterness to joy... from heart ache to rejoicing... to discover the healthy benefits of God's peace and righteousness.

10 Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can share its joy.

Christians are warned to never allow a root of bitterness to take root in our lives, no matter how deep the wound. Overcoming bitterness over hurts from other people is often the acid test of our faith. Can we forgive the unforgivable as unto the Lord? Each of us will face this question some time in our life. If we forgive, God can get involved in the healing process which leads to joy. If we hold onto our bitterness we can find the world a very lonely place. God will not violate our choice to be, or stay miserable. Many sad souls today are caught in a vicious cycle of bitterness, with no way out... until they finally decide to let it go ... and let God's forgiveness in.

12 There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and rejoicing may end in grief.

These two verses were included in lyrics of a popular Christian rock band in the 1980s named "The Way", one of the early Maranatha Music groups, which pioneered the way for today's Contemporary Christian music. The verses remind us that our mind alone cannot be trusted to lead us to the truth. Deception of the mind leads to death. "The way" of the world is eat, drink and be merry, but laughter alone is not the true sign of a happy heart. It is only when we walk in "THE WAY" of the Lord that we find the desires of our heart. Without God we all are left to deal with our heartaches and grief alone. With Him we overcome!

30 A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.

Do you know someone who always seem to have "a heart at peace"? Medical professionals know that mental and spiritual peace helps us all live longer, healthier lives. So why to we worry about so much and so often? Human nature? Yes in part. The world knows not the peace of God, nor do they seek it. The world needs to see the peace of God working thru us to even understand it. Envy, like a cancer of the mind, slowly rots our bones and eventually our whole life if we allow it. Envy is born in the heart of people who think they deserve more than God has given them... It is extinguished only by encountering thankful hearts of those who are at peace with God. Like the bumper sticker says ... No God=No Peace ... vs. Know God=Know Peace!

34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin condemns any people.

This promise of God that exaltation of a nation is in the hands of the righteous. If we stand up for what is right, the Lord lifts us up. If a nation abandons what is right, God often sees fit to bring that nation crashing down.

Lord, today we thank you for your eternal covenant with Your children that never fails, even when others fail us. Protect us from a root of bitterness, from sin and envy. May we walk in peace despite troubling circumstances. We lift up our nation today, asking that you would allow righteousness to rise once again, empowered by your Holy Spirit to win the battle for our body, mind & spirit.

Proverbs 15

Today we focus on the tongue, mouth and lips, three of the most sensitive parts of the human body.

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

This oft repeated Proverb verse can become a lifestyle if we make it a habit to speak softly. Not silent, because that can stir up even more trouble in an adversarial conversation. (fight) The alternative is loosing whatever peace you have in your spirit. And for what? To win an argument or debate? Everyone is a loser in that equation.

13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit.

If the eyes are the windows to our soul... then surely a smile is the window to a happy heart. People don't care how much we know until they know and feel how much we care. This truism functions in business, friendships and family. Everyone likes to be around cheerful people because they are available to draw life and joy from at a moment's notice... just like our Creator.

In contrast the heavy-hearted seem to attract other heavy-hearted, and together, in the process of grumbling and complaining, they crush each others spirit further. This is why the cheerful often attract the downtrodden, but it ultimately takes a power greater than ourselves to lift us up day-by-day. God has no substitutes.

22 Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.

Here again we see underlined the importance of not walking through life as a loner. We all need alone time, but we also need together time. In business we often need professionals to help make a new business venture succeed or expand as well as help with important financial and life decisions. For a plan to succeed, good godly advice is a must.

30 Light in a messenger's eyes brings joy to the heart,
and good news gives health to the bones.

"You are the Children of Light," said Jesus. We are also the messengers of good news. Wherever we go, if we walk in the light, we have the pleasure of bringing joy to hearts and health to bones. What a supreme privilege it is to serve the Lord of the earth. We must not hide our light under a basket or the world will fall into a deeper darkness.

33 Wisdom's instruction is to fear the LORD,
and humility comes before honor.

We all need to be honored from time to time. That is just how we are created. But this Proverb explains the pathway to honor is paved with humility, rather than seeking honor. Similar to the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches us the paradox of Christian life ... to give away what we want, being last to be first, the list goes on. Every one of these beautiful attitudes fly in the face of the logic of this world ... yet they are but the introduction to thinking according to the next Kingdom to come.

King of Kings, we bow before You this day. Thankful for what we have and humbled by what we think we need. In reality, we already have all that we need, Now You beckon us to draw even closer to You and each other. To become bountiful givers... of smiles, controlled tongues and with eyes full of light. Today we come into agreement with You. May we shine bright and help drive the darkness out!

Proverbs 16

Today we will reflect on our motives, plans, honesty, patience, self-control, commitment insight and the value of gray (or white) hair.

2 All a person's ways seem pure to them,
but motives are weighed by the LORD.
3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.

Without an objective standard on which to measure our life we are left to think and do whatever we think best. In society these standards are called laws, rules and morals. Yet as Christians we are called to live up to a higher standard than the world -- the Word of God. We are told the Word is a 2-edged sword cutting to the heart of our motives, which is what God wants control of in our life. If He controls our plans then He will establish them. If we are in control, then the burden falls on us alone. He is looking for our commitment in whatever we are called to do. He has a plan for each of us, to create a good solid future if we will just dedicate our life and work to bulding His Kingdom rather than our own.

7 When the LORD takes pleasure in anyone's way,
he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

When God is involved in directing and controlling our lives we find that peace, righteousness and joy seem to go everywhere we go. Sure we have trials and challenges daily, but the Holy Spirit guides us to react to these challenges very differently as we grow in wisdom. We have more patience when dealing with conflicts, which creates more peace, even with our enemies.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to get insight rather than silver!

Verse 16 helps us keep a godly perspective on the value of wisdom and insight. Notice that gold and silver are always used in the Bible to represent earthly wealth. The Bible has more mentions of money than it does of salvation, Larry Burkett once told me on a radio interview. Yet money does not in itself prove spirituality. As Dr. Ed Cole once told me "Prosperity is not the goal, it is the by-produce of righteousness in a life." Some say that money follows good ideas, but I would say abundance follows God's ideas ... Gold and silver follow wisdom and insight.

v 31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.

As I started going gray at about 20 years old, this has always been a favored verse to me. Because our culture is so focused on staying young and beautiful rather than being mature and full of wisdom it should be no surprise that gray hair doesn't get as much respect as it deserves. This Proverb reminds us that, much like a noble woman, gray hair is a crown of splendor because it represents the many years that we have had to learn the way of righteousness. So toss out the Clarol and Grecian Formula and begin embracing the joy of aging gracefully in the Lord and sharing His wisdom proudly! Lord, we thank You for every single day that you have allowed us to walk the earth and gain more wisdom. Give us pure motivations as we commit our lives to You afresh today.

Proverbs 17

Today we glean more wisdom about the value of peace and quiet, being tested by the Lord, crowns for the aged, friends in adversity and being even tempered.

1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.

Vs. 1 reminds us that strife produces stress, which robs us of our peace. Strike is defined as "vigorous or bitter conflict, discord, or antagonism". Have you ever lived or worked in such an environment? I think we all have. It saps the joy and peace right out of you because it grieves the Holy Spirit within us. Our spirit either closes up or lashes out during strife because strife is a key strategy of the enemy of our soul to rob us of His peace.

3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the LORD tests the heart.

Without the crucible (or furnace) silver and gold would remain impure and unusable for their created purpose and beauty. Likewise, without having our heart tested by the Lord we remain unusable in the Kingdom of God. If, rather than rebelling against God's providential testing in our life, we instead embrace it, we too will become a more precious and valuable vessel of service.

6 Children's children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children.

Here comes another crown, this time for both mothers and fathers... grand children, the start of our third generation. God loves building a strong threefold cord in our lives... a godly legacy to perpetuate our faith. Grand children are the fruit of our fruit. To be able to sow light, love, truth and wisdom into their little hearts is one of the greatest joys on earth. When we were young we often thought and spoke as a child, but as we mature we see things from a very different perspective. Grand children have a special anointing from God... to remind us to savor the best memories and to maintain a child-like faith, without falling into childish behavior. The reward comes later when both children and grand children rise up to praise and thank us for doing our best to represent what godly parents should be.

17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Godly friendships are vital in our development to maturity and ability to overcome adversity as well as bringing added purpose to our own lives. Bearing one anothers' burden is one of the reasons we were born. Friends give us a more objective perspective on our problems, but it is our brothers and sisters that can help point us toward a godly solution. Jesus demonstrated what a true friendship should look like; Eternal love. A willingness to lay down His life to save us and the power to resurrect God's plan for our life. Give thanks for every friend you have and always seek Him first when friends in need turn to you for godly counsel and you will be blessed.

27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold their tongues.

These last two verses explain the value and impact that our words have. Words of healing and words of hurt. Knowledgeable words are in great demand today as the information age goes viral. The internet has flooded the planet with information and words, but finding the wisdom of God to create understanding is still in short supply. When reading vs. 28 I can't help thinking of the myspace, twitter, facebook phenomenon .... where suddenly we have the ability to tell the world exactly what is on our mind... yet somehow the proliferation of words is no guarantee of creating more wisdom. My dad used to say "It is better to be thought of as a fool, that to open your mouth and remove all doubt." How true, how true.

Lord, we celebrate Your love, Your friendship, Your testing, Your peace today! Help us live up to the high calling in Christ Jesus as fathers, grand fathers, husbands and friends.

Proverbs 18

Today we explore rushing streams, fortified towers, crushed spirits, the power of the tongue and friends that stick closer than glue.

4 The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.

Ahhh... to wash ourselves daily in a fountain of wisdom. Sound refreshing? You bet it is. And to keep it fresh and alive the flow of wisdom from God comes from both deep waters and rushing streams. It seems everything in today's online world is a rushing stream, but God's wisdom comes to us at times as precious spring water from a deep well. At other times it rushes by us ... bringing with it a cleansing action to wash away forever the impurities of the world in us. This leaves us clean and free to accept and walk in the peace of God each day anew.

10 The name of the LORD is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.

We all need somewhere we run to to feel safe from the problems of life. Some find safety in their home and family, some in friends and fellowship, others sadly, can only find safety in escapism. But in reality there is only one place that our weary hearts ever feel 100% safe, because it can both comfort us and withstand the fiery attacks: the LORD's fortified tower, impregnable, eternal. There is mighty power in the Name of Jesus. Run, baby run into the arms of the Lord, the ultimate safe haven.

14 The human spirit can endure in sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?

Can a spirit ever really be crushed? Yes, just like an aluminum can in a trash compactor because our spirits are very fragile. Sickness comes and goes and we usually recover, but if our soul and/or spirit is wounded the scars can last a lifetime unless we discover the secret of spiritual regeneration. The secret is learning to rejoice in ALL things, knowing that when our human spirit gets crushed by circumstances it is yet another opportunity to understand the fellowship of His suffering. God in time brings healing, but it is our faith-ful reaction to the crushing God is concerned with.

21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Prov. 18:21 is well worth memorizing. It is the words of our mouth that express our choices, both for life and death. When we speak in fear, worry or other negativity we then give it more power over our life. When we speak in faith, truth and wisdom we bring life to ourselves and others... which then brings forth delicious fruit to nourish and grow. "Where the attention goes, the power flows," as Tommy Barnett puts it. We have all been around plenty of deadly tongues, let us seek to find tongues that speak only life, health and vitality. Life is too short to waste with idle words of gossip. Use the powerful tongue God has given you to bless, not curse.

24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The disappointment of fair-weather friends or friends that always seem to promise more than they can deliver hurts because it is a violation of our trust and their word. But when we hurt, true friends come along side us to comfort us like the Holy Spirit. Even genetically related brothers and sisters can seem uninterested or too busy to help us bear our burdens at times. Therefore I say be thankful for the really good friends that God has given you and allowed you to befriend. Be there for them no matter what. There will come a time that you will need to draw on their strength to help lift up your weary arms in praise to God and for standing with you in the gap!

Proverbs 19

This chapter of the book of Proverbs has plenty of warnings... for mockers, for the hot-tempered, for fools, false witnesses and the like ... but today we focus on just 4 verses -- which offer something positive for us to chew on this glorious new day, including; life-loving, offense-overlooking, lending to the poor and why we should never despise the dandelions in our lives, but rather cherish them.

8 The one who gets wisdom loves life;
the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.

Successful business people quickly learn the importance of gaining understanding and a love for life, which they share with all they come in contact with. This leads to prosperity, as people usually respond well and like doing business with the servant-hearted, as long as their price is fair and the product is reliable. We make time for the things we cherish most in our life. Today let us commit to getting wisdom and understanding... and before long prosperity follows.

11 A person's wisdom yields patience;
it is to one's glory to overlook an offense.

Turning the other cheek is a humbling experience, just as being patient is also humbling. Modern culture does not value humility much, so little wonder they are impatient and without much wisdom. We are taught to greet offense with defense in the world system, but in the Kingdom of God we are taught to overlook offenses entirely... no reaction whatsoever... as if the offense never even happened. This requires a special kind of love... Let's call it "Love, God's Style" also known as "agape" love. Far from the animal passion of "eros" or physical love... or the "I love you if..." so often present in "phileo" love or friendship. Unmerited agape love and forgiveness are the rules of engagement in the Kingdom to come. Something tells me we better get in good practice now -- if our hope is to rule and reign with Christ later.

17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.

I recently met a new friend who shared the great joy and satisfaction from investing part of their savings into making "micro-loans" to the poor among us. Mind you, these are not gifts, but rather pooled funds from lots of small givers that allow the poor to start a business or expand in nations much poorer than the U.S. These loans are to be paid back.

Imagine the joy of sowing and then watching the seeds you've plant into good soil spring forth into fruitful crops... and knowing that you're gaining as big or bigger of a reward, both on earth... and in heaven! Kindness to the poor is best expressed in helping them learn to help themselves. Why? Because then they're in a position to help others... and this process keeps multiplying ... and it all started with just one little seed from you. Amazing grace!

21 Many are the plans in a person's heart,
but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.

How do you react when your plans are suddenly changed at the last minute? Joyful expectancy of what God holds in store... or grumbling that Murphy's Law has ruined everything? If we really believe Ro. 8:28... that ALL things work together... we would bite our tongue when tempted to complain.

Last Sunday at Paradise Community Church in PHX, AZ pastor Tammy Smith shared on this very topic, using a new word (to me) as the central theme: "liminal". Now I had heard of the "subliminal" mind -- that which is below our conscious thinking, but never just "liminal" ... which is defined as "The threshold of a physiological or psychological response." In other words, liminal is the in between space... the place of waiting for God's next move in our lives. Tammy described it as that fateful moment on the trapeze in between the swings -- when high wire acts are in mid-air -- living only on their faith that the next swing will be in perfect sync to grab onto it.

Is this sounding familiar to anyone else? It sure is to me. Tammy also spoke of why we should never despise the dandelions in our life ... which most people perceive as just weeds to be quickly pulled out by the roots. Weeds make our perfect little world temporarily imperfect until WE fix it. Yet in reality, it is God that sometimes puts weeds into our life to teach us of His ways, His plans, His wisdom.

If we see dandelions through the eyes of a child they are in fact... a thing of beauty, color and fragrance. Do young children worry if a dandelion is a weed or not? No way. They are too busy chasing and playing with the little white puffs that bloom on dandelions ... and in the process they are enjoying God's great creation... and plan for their life daily.

Are you standing on a threshold of something new? Fear not, exercise your faith muscles and you will find the joy of knowing God's Purpose is about to prevail over your plans. Give thanks in all things and see what better plan God has for you!

Proverbs 20

Today we turn our attention to those led astray by strong drink, how to draw out the purposes of God from those around us, and the importance of allowing our spirit to shine brightly.

1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Alcohol dependence and drug abuse is rampant in American culture today. Alcohol and drugs ruin lives, families, children, not to mention the risk we all face of being hit by a drunk driver on the road. Yes indeed alcohol makes a mockery of the human body, mind, soul and spirit because it dulls us from being sensitive to the Spirit of God leading our lives.

Consider just a few sad government statistics...
-About 14 million US residents battle an alcohol addiction.
-6.6 million minors in the US live with an alcoholic mother or father.
-Children of alcoholics have a greater chance of becoming alcoholics themselves than those whose parents are clean.
-As the 'baby boom' generation settles into retirement, alcoholism is becoming more prevalent among the elderly.
- The divorce or separation rate is at least four times higher for alcoholics that of the general population.

With 43% of the population touched in some way by alcohol abuse, odds are you may also be a victim. Until an alcoholic is ready to face their demons they unleash legions of demons on their innocent children, spouses, friends and family. Even after treatment, relapses must for fought for a lifetime. What can family and friends do to help an alcoholic? The type of complete healing and transformation that is needed to conquer alcoholism must begin within the heart and mind. A choice that life is better sober cannot be made for an alcoholic. It should be no surprise that Christian rehab facilities have the highest success rate, because they help on every level to restore the high sense of value and worth that each individual has to both God and to man.

5 The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.

Vs. 5 is another one of my favorite verses in the Bible because it speaks of the joy and insight that wise Christians have in helping those around us to draw out the deep waters and deeper sense of purpose from those God has put in our path. We are all called to serve the purposes of God in our sphere of influence, including family, neighbors, & community. The first way we draw the hidden purposes out of people is by learning to be a good listener. Then by asking the Lord for a spirit of discernment, to help us understand the true issues at hand... and lastly by sharing godly counsel and advice that is drawn from a biblical perspective on life.

27 The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD
that sheds light on one's inmost being.

The human spirit is a mystery, a pure expression of faith. It illuminates our mind and soul. It is that part of us that lives eternally, either in ever-growing fellowship with God, or in ever-growing separation from God. Our spirit is the lamp of the LORD when it is infused with the Holy Spirit. We Christians are to be the lamp of the world or else the darkness will prevail. Lord, may we keep the oil in our lamps full to the brim so that we become that bright city on a hill in preparation for our soon coming King!

Proverbs 21

Today our Proverb has some good advice for women, tips on pulling down strongholds, giving without sparing and why no plan succeeds against the Lord.

9 Better to live on a corner of the roof
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
19 Better to live in a desert
than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.

Question: what if you live in the desert with a nagging wife? Double whammy? The message to women here is that men do not need to be told something over and over again to get them to take action. Men simply need a list presented of things to do and wahlah ... we now have an action plan. Repeatedly reminding men often has the exact opposite effect than desired because pride flares up and then you have the beginning of a quarrel ... which is a very unhealthy way to resolve conflicts and is damaging to children as well. Enough said to women. As for us men, we need to become much better listeners and perhaps even take notes so that we develop the habit of following through instead of procrastinating.

22 One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty
and pull down the stronghold in which they trust.

Christians that walk in God's wisdom are called to pull down, pluck up and plant new things. We are told in the New Testament that Christ is able to empower us to pull down spiritual strongholds. These are areas of deception that may exist in our own life, in a business, a church or in the world. Spiritual strongholds seem to thrive, especially in the cities of the mighty. We pull them down in prayer and in wise confrontation with adversaries.

Our goal is to communicate the truth, which is the only stronghold we should ever put our faith in. During times of upheaval, strongholds are most vulnerable. God is shaking everything and everyone today, so that only that which is built on a solid foundation will remain, in our life and in the world. So the shaking will continue until, like the contractions of a mother preparing to give birth, suddenly the shaking stops and something new is born... the kingdoms of this world will soon give way to the Kingdom of God in all of its majesty.

25 The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him,
because his hands refuse to work.
26 All day long he craves for more,
but the righteous give without sparing.

Have you ever noticed that people who complain about their job or their life rarely excel past a certain point or are happy? They lack the motivation to go the extra mile, so they envy and crave for more rewards without more effort. They feel the world owes them more than they have been able to get or earn. In contrast are the right- thinking Christians who have learned that giving of themselves, their resources and their time without sparing is the pathway to contentment. Because they attract like-minded and open minded, they usually prosper in life ... as their soul prospers, regardless of how much money they accumulate. They are the givers which make it possible for the sluggards to get by.

30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
that can succeed against the LORD.

Since day one the enemy of our soul has had a plan to ruin the perfect plan of God for mankind. We saw the enemies plan at work in the garden of Eden, questioning God's authority. We saw the same plan at work when Jesus was tempted with the kingdoms of this world. Yet throughout all of history God's plan marches on. His Kingdom advances, inch by inch, heart by heart. It is a very good feeling inside to know that you are on the winning team, no matter when or where the battle comes. Sure our enemy has some amount of wisdom, insight and planning... but compared to the Creator of the universe his destructive plan is but a temporary annoyance to God. The Kingdom of God will not be detoured by anything or anyone. So we must stand strong in our faith. Watch the enemy run!

Lord we thank you for this glorious, beautiful day that you have created for us to enjoy. May we guard our hearts, minds and words carefully. May we work hard, as unto the Lord in the work You have called us too. May we pull down any thought that exalts itself above Christ.

Proverbs 22

Today we glean from the Word... the importance of a good name, advice for raising godly children, the value of living within your means, shunning debt and observing the ancient boundaries set up by our ancestors.

1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

In today's world awash in government debt and deficits, should it be any surprise that the best assets to own for safety and growth are also the only assets the Scripture ever established as honest money: gold and silver? Yet as highly esteemed as precious metals have become in the 21st century, this Proverb reminds us that a good name is even more desirable. With our name comes our reputation, which is a reflection of our character. No amount of money or riches can ever restore a bad name. The New Testament tells us there is One Name that is above all other names: Jesus Christ. As we purpose in our hearts to make Jesus the Lord of our life we take on His nature, His character, His Spirit. Living up to the name Christian is a lifetime challenge, but the rewards are both temporal and eternal, like gold & silver.

6 Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.

These two verses in Proverbs offer parents both hope and a warning. Hope that the seed of righteousness (right-thinking) that we plant in their little hearts, minds and souls will eventually produce fruit that is pleasing to parents as well as to God. Beginnings are very important. If something is started off on the wrong foot it can be difficult to fix later. Because children are like cosmic sponges we must guard them from evil influences as well as nurture them in the truth. The heart and mind of a child starts off as a blank page in the book of Life, but as they grow they begin to color it with their personality, their dreams, their joys and sometimes their pain. Parents have the responsibility to lead and guide them initially, then counsel them as they mature to encourage them to make good choices.

Our choices determine our habits, our habits determine our lifestyle, and our lifestyle determines our destiny. Discipline in the early years sometimes requires punishment to reinforce that choices have consequences. If a child does not learn this lesson early, the foolishness and folly within a child's heart will follow them into maturity. Parents love your children as our Lord loves us and when they are grown up and older they will remember that your love for them is a reflection of how much their Heavenly Father loves them too. If your parents did not present a good role model of love from above, then with God's help you must forgive them. Over time love and forgiveness will draw them closer to God.

7 The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Does it seem fair or right that the rich always seem to rule over the poor? It depends how we define our words. Are we talking about material riches or riches in God, such as family relationships and friends. Where our treasure is, so is our heart Jesus taught. For many riches are a stumbling block that keeps them outside God's Kingdom... like the parable of the rich young ruler teaches us. Whether rich or poor by the world's standard, what profit is it to gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Christians are told to owe no man anything except to love them, yet we often fall into the world's debt trap and become slaves to lenders, which can limit us from serving the purposes of God. Financial freedom starts not with the abundance of things, but in the fewness of our wants. God wants us to have nice things but only if we have earned them and they do not possess us. In today's debt-driven culture, God is saying this is no time to be slaves ... but rather servants!

28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
set up by your ancestors.

Jesus said the Kingdom of God involves gleaning wisdom from some things old ... and some things new. We learn about God's faithfulness by studying Scripture to see how He has worked throughout history. Ancient boundaries remind us of who we really are, where we came from and where we are going. The traditions and ceremonies that God directed Israel to establish are a wonderful type and model for Christians to learn from and reflect upon. I enjoy celebrating Holy Days with Jewish friends, whether Passover... or attending a Bar Mitsfa... because they remind us that the God is Israel is also our God and many of the truths established in the Old Testament have come to fullness in the New Testament. Do not move these boundaries ... seek to understand the wisdom of God in establishing them and you will in the process gain a greater understanding of His plan for mankind.

Lord, we love you with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength today! We seek that our name serves as a reflection of Your Good Name. Help us love and cherish our children as you love and cherish us. Give us this day our daily bread... and may it be sufficient for us with enough abundance to share it with those around us in need.

Proverbs 23

Sons and daughters can inspire glad-hearted parents ...
Life's most valuable assets we should always buy, but never sell back ...
More warnings on the eventual snake bite of wine-in-excess ...

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice
when your lips speak what is right.
22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Prov. 23 offers some keys to becoming a happy, healthy family. Fathers who are delighted with children who have wise hearts and express their love to their mother as often as possible. Men are honored and appreciated most when they feel their words have been listened to and taken to heart. Father's hearts rejoice at watching the next generation develop in wisdom of mind and compassion of heart. Mothers rejoice to know their offspring will never be too busy to honor their mother. With each passing year children add another jewel to their crown. And given that godly mothers usually live long lives, it is very comforting and encouraging to know their kids will be there for them... to the very end, just as she has always been there for them... from the very beginning!

23 Buy the truth and do not sell it,
wisdom, instruction and insight as well.

Can the truth be bought? I thought is was free! Yes, truthfulness is highly valued by God. A false witness is cut off from His blessing. For example, truthful money has risen in price 500%-800% in the last decade. It am referring to gold & silver, which are the only form of money God has ever ordained for mankind since the beginning.

Truthful money is to be bought, but not sold, at least not now, perhaps not even in our lifetimes. Neither are wisdom nor insight to be sold. They are all to be accumulated, savored and then shared freely with those in need as we are directed by Him. How high will the price of truthful money rise within the next decade? No one on earth knows, but He knows. He knows the number of hairs on our heads. But in reality an ounce of gold circa 4000BC still buys the same amount of goods, food, clothing or shelter that it does today in 2011AD. Did God's standard of money ever change? No. Man's everchanging standard is the problem in our money, our laws, our education and our government.

The modern debt-based money/credit system is imploding before our very eyes today. The value of a paper dollar is disintegrating, which is reflected as price inflation and an ever-increasing cost of living. When will our Babylonian-style money system fail? ... Only He knows... but it could happen in the twinkling of an eye, so be prepared... Please!

31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
and your mind will imagine confusing...

Wine can be a wonderful gift from God. Beautiful to the eye, the scent, the taste, even the stomach. Jesus turned water into wine for a wedding celebration. But the problem arises when we cannot control or consume in moderation, as is the case with about 5% of the population who fall into alcoholism. Say ten couples meet to have a celebration with wine, at least 1 of 20 persons will drink to excess, and perhaps many more. What begins as a joyous occasion often can turn into a snake bite... as poisons are released into the brain which distort God's reality for a period of time. Wisdom is instantly tossed out the window as the eyes see strange things, leaving the mind confused. Be wise if and when you drink wine.

Lord, we rejoice in our families... and promise to buy only the truth, never lies. We dedicate this day to reflection upon your blessing in our life, starting with our new life in You. Because He is risen... we are arising!

Proverbs 24

3 By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
4 through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.

Building a physical house requires a vision, a blueprint, a solid foundation, sturdy walls and a trustworthy roof at a bare minimum. Likewise, building a spiritual house also requires a wise plan built upon a clear understanding God's blueprint. That means washing our mind of the world's wisdom with God's word. As this process unfolds we find our life transformed, one room at a time, and being filled with His "rare and beautiful treasures." Lord, today I invite you into every room of our spiritual and physical house to fill them with your wisdom, understanding, knowledge and treasures, for unless the Lord builds the house ... we labor in vain.

5 The wise prevail through great power,
and those who have knowledge muster their strength.
6 Surely you need guidance to wage war,
and victory is won through many advisers.

Verse 6 is a great encouragement as we come to understand the spiritual war we must all fight daily. It reminds us that we cannot fight this war alone. We need advisers and godly counselors if we are to win this battle. "There is wisdom in the multitude of counselors" another translation tells us.

We need each other in the body of Christ ... to help bearing our burdens & sharing our victories. In addition to our spiritual war, we also fight a daily battle for our mind, our money and our government ... Each of these areas also requires godly advisers and counselors. The Word promises the wise will prevail, but only if we are equipped for the battles we face. Lord, today we will not run from battles, instead we will face them with the breastplate of righteousness, the sword of the Spirit and, together with wise counsel from our brothers and sisters, we will win the battles we face, in Jesus Name!

Proverbs 25

4 Remove the dross from the silver,
and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
5 remove wicked officials from the king's presence,
and his throne will be established through righteousness.

God's love is a refining fire which burns up our impurities. But first they must rise to the surface. Each of us has a mixture of pure and impure deeply embedded in our heart, mind and soul. It is the fires of life that reveals our impurities and it is God who removes them so that we can become vessels of honor for Him. Facing a fire today? Rejoice! He is still working on you. Not sure Christians should be involved in politics? Re-read vs. 5 ... we are called to help "remove wicked officials" ... and watch God's righteousness be established.

Our Founding Fathers understood political action as part of Christian duty, for the sake of future generations. But lest we go overboard with trying to fix society via politics alone, we must also remember ... The first thing to say about politics ... is that it is NOT the first thing. The first thing is to allow our Lord to do His work in us of purification... then we can be of service in building His Kingdom. Side note regarding silver ... Silver is considered the "poor-man's gold" yet today it has become the fastest appreciating asset on earth ... even faster than gold. For 6000 years silver has been the common man's currency ... Today it looks like we are coming full circle back to using silver as real, honest money.

28 Like a city whose walls are broken through
is a person who lacks self-control.

Do you know someone without any self control? We all have areas of our life that are not fully controlled by the Lord. When a majority of the people of any nation lack self-control the nation eventually falls. When I think of broken walls I think of Nehemiah. When he saw his city in shambles, what did he do? He gathered the families together and said "Let us rebuild" ... with a sword in one hand to defend against enemies ... and a trowel in the other hand to build.

Our prayer is to become a part of rebuilding this nation, one brick at a time. That means exercising self-government under God ... helping to re-establish functioning family government ... church government ... free markets ... and finally civil government. Ready, set, let's rebuild this broken world, starting with ourselves, by reaching out to one broken heart at a time.

Proverbs 26

1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
honor is not fitting for a fool.
2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
an undeserved curse does not come to rest.

Proverbs 26 explains in detail the characteristics and the consequences of associating with foolish people. We all come into contact with such foolish people, but the question is how we respond to them. Do we sink to their level in conversation or gossip, or do we seek to avoid it?

Fools, sluggards and drunkards seek to lower those around them, thus justifying their foolishness and lifting themselves up. If we do not respond they can be given to anger, harsh words, sometimes even violence. When this happens we must be very wise not provoking them to even more bad behavior.

Have you suffered injury, insult or curses from a fool. Rejoice! Why?

1. You are being given an opportunity to better grasp the fellowship of His suffering. Persecution is not pleasant at the moment, but it can work righteousness into our life regardless. Right living stands as an affront to wrong living.

2. Verse two offers encouragement that when the fool curses us for doing what is right, their curse falls flat to the earth. It does not "rest" on us. Instead it heaps coals on them while we continue to walk in the peace of God. We enter His rest while the fool has no inner rest at all. The key is for us to exercise godly self-control.

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him.

Proverbs 27

12 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

Learning to take refuge in God during times of danger is a challenge. Our natural instinct is to lean to our own understanding ... to consider all the angles and best options. But prudence is to turn to God first for clear direction about how to respond to approaching danger. Simple faith is different from being "simple". Being simple means not observing or taking any action, just ignoring danger, which we are told has a penalty. This is true in our personal life, business life, family life and spiritual life. Christians have available the spirit of discernment to guard our heart, mind, soul and body. Lord help us use this gift today.

21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but people are tested by their praise.

Sometimes fiery trials are the way God tests our character. Trials refine us, expose areas of ungodliness that we may have missed. But this Proverb tells that we are also tested by the praise of men. Praise is a test of humility. Do we take credit, or give the credit to God for our best qualities? Paul said his righteousness was as filthy rags to God. He had a biblical perspective on himself. He knew that whatever good things, whatever praiseworthy attributes he possessed were an unmerited gift from God. While it is very polite to be thankful for compliments, our best response is to redirect the glory to God, like a mirror in the sunshine the reflection can be seen for a mile. The test of praise reveals the motives of our heart. Lord today allow us to reflect your glory to all around us!

Proverbs 28

8 Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor
amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.

This Proverb has much to say about the folly of the rich and tyrannical leaders. Again the financial message is that wealth without work will not last the test of time. Vs. 8 confirms that the wealth of the wicked are laid up for the righteous. But does this mean on earth, or in heaven? Or both? Increasing wealth by taking advantage of the poor is the dark side of capitalism. God's purpose for wealth is to help and serve the poor as well as provide for future generations. If we violate His purpose by overspending or undergiving we are promised that our wealth will be taken from us and given to a better steward.

13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.

If Vs. 13 is true, why do evildoers ofter seem to prosper, at least here on earth, while the pure of heart seem to struggle to make ends meet? I think the key is how we define "prosper". The Word promises us that we will prosper, as our soul prospers. It is a matter of priorities. Concealing sin is a sign of a bankrupt soul, while confession and repentance signal a prosperous soul, a soul that finds mercy from God which He delights in blessing. Vs. 14 underlines that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but a hard heart is destined for trouble, both on earth as it is in heaven. Are you struggling with finances? Delight yourself in Him today and watch how He finds a new means to bless you! While government leaders think themselves wise in redistributing wealth, it is God alone who hates ill-gotten gain. The Lord giveth ... and the Lord taketh away ... in righteousness.

Proverbs 29

17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;
they will bring you the delights you desire.

Children are a blessing & trial from the Lord. As time goes on they begin to either reflect our worldview or rebel against it, but either way we must invest in them our very best and be there for them when they stumble. Exhibiting discipline in our own life is the pathway to the peace of God. Loving correction is needed at times, but most of all our kids need to know they are unconditionally loved by us ... as we are by Him. In the end our children are a delightful and challenging tool to help us to understand how the family of God should function best... on earth as it is in heaven. We all make mistakes with our kids, but being willing to ask for forgiveness at times is the pathway to a growing relationship. The key is for fathers to lead the way in the family. To make decisions and stick by them, just as out heavenly Father does. In fact the word "father" literally means "he who decides" ... Loving prodigal children is a challenge, but because He loves us so perfectly ... Can we do any less with our own kids? I pray not.

18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom's instruction.

Another translation tell us that "where there is no vision the people perish." Vision and revelation are what keeps us on track to understand His purpose for our lives. Revelation means hearing from God personally, directly thru His Word, godly counsel and from the Holy Spirit's still small voice inside us. Too many Christians settle for 2nd hand revelation ... from their pastor, elder, friends, etc. But the ideal is to get our revelation straight from the source, as truth can be lost in translation sometimes, which can cause us to cast off the restraints of God's perfect plan for us. Wisdom is the proper application of knowledge and truth. If we are to learn God's wisdom we must have 1st hand revelation. Lord we thank You that You are giving us the vision we need today to build a better tomorrow.

Proverbs 30

7 Two things I ask of you, LORD;
do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, 'Who is the LORD?'
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

This is one of my favorite Proverbs because of its simplicity. The ability to boil things down to root issues is a gift from God. Vs. 8 speaks of the importance of avoiding falsehood, lies and learning the blessing of contentment with or without material things. All we really need is our daily bread. We all know people that have riches who trust in them rather than God and are also very unhappy people. Likewise those less fortunate can also be tempted to sin or take shortcuts that dishonor God as well. Somewhere between poverty and riches lies the land of contentment. A place where we understand everything we have is a gift from God and our mission is to be a good steward with God's gifts so that we can be a blessing to others.

18 There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a young woman.

I have always loved verses 18-19. God is so amazing and it is very refreshing to hear the Scripture declare that fact boldly. Jesus told us to consider the birds of the air, not toiling just reflecting His glory to the world. Not worrying, just accepting that He feeds them with daily bread. Snakes in rocks, well, not quite as awe inspiring but still part of his plan in our delicate eco-balance. Ships on the seas... this reminds me of the amazing cruise ships which are like floating cities. Secure, self-sufficient, content yet always subject to the unforseen forces of nature such as hurricanes and storms. I am intrigued with the amazing way of a man with a woman (I say we define "young" as under 70...Haha). Finding the mate that God has is truly amazing and also a gift from God.

24 Four things on earth are small,
yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;

Vs. 24-25 reminds us that wisdom has nothing to do with size, intelligence or physical strength, but in finding our place of service to the King and walking in it obediently. I think of the popular kids movie "Antz" and have to smile. Ants are about the lowliest of all creatures yet they function as a team, a family to make sure all have provisions. They are very hard workers yet something internally drives them, without any boss telling them what to do or where to go. This speaks to me of the Holy Spirit guiding and leading our lives if we will be quiet enough to listen.

Lord, today help us walk in amazement, simplicity and humility that we might bring glory to You and Your Kingdom.

Proverbs 31

1 The sayings of King Lemuel, an inspired utterance his mother taught him.
2 Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
3 Do not spend your strength on women,
your vigor on those who ruin kings.

This is very good motherly advice ... to stay away from the type of women who ruin Kings ... and the sons of The King. A mother's advice is not valued in today's culture as it should be, but godly mothers are in reality the backbone of great families, communities and nations.

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

Finding a woman of noble character is the most precious gift from God that any man can ever hope for. Vs. 10-31 paints a clear picture of an industrious businesswoman in whom her husband has full confidence and trust in. This amazing Proverbs 31 woman is not only a hard worker, but a great homemaker who still makes time to cloth herself in fine linen and take care of herself. Starting to sound like Wonder Woman, huh?

She is strong, dignified and yet easy going enough to laugh at the uncertainties of the future because she is wise. She knows she needs security, but derives it from God first, as well as her husband. She knows her husband needs to be honored and appreciated, even when he makes mistakes, so she asks God for the ability to forgive him often and control her tongue with humility and grace.

What keeps this Wonder Woman going? Her God, her husband and her children, who praise her constantly. Yet even when others forget to lavish the praise upon her she is due, she knows she can lean on her God to fulfill her deepest need for affirmation, if she will only ask Him.

How can a man find such a wife in a world obsessed with outer beauty and fixated on self-fulfillment? Yes, it is a modern miracle to find a Proverbs 31 woman in the today's upside-down world. An even greater miracle from God is the journey to become a REAL man... who lives unto God in a manner worthy of such a woman.

If you are a man so blessed as to have found such a women, drop everything now and tell her how much you love her today... and how much you cherish the day you first met... and every day since.

If you are a Proverbs 31 woman in search of a worthy man... rest assured that God has great plans for you... and watches over you closely. He is your covering, providing a heavenly umbrella of protection. You are His vessel of honor which is prepared for service to The King. Rejoice and be patient, for God sometimes saves the best for last!

I sincerely hope you have gained a few nuggets of wisdom from reading these daily devotionals from Proverbs. If you would like to share any comments or your favorite devotional please feel free to email me at ideaman@myideafactory.net