Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Proverbs 24:13-25

13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good; 

honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.

14 Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; 

if you find it, there is a future hope for you, 

and your hope will not be cut off.

15 Do not lie in wait like an outlaw against a righteous man's house, 

do not raid his dwelling place;

16 for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, 

but the wicked are brought down by calamity.

17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls; 

when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,

18 or the LORD will see and disapprove 

and turn his wrath away from him.

19 Do not fret because of evil men 

or be envious of the wicked,

20 for the evil man has no future hope, 

and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

21 Fear the LORD and the king, my son, 

and do not join with the rebellious,

22 for those two will send sudden destruction upon them, 

and who knows what calamities they can bring? 

23 These also are sayings of the wise: 

To show partiality in judging is not good:

24 Whoever says to the guilty, "You are innocent"—

peoples will curse him and nations denounce him.

25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, 

and rich blessing will come upon them.

Questions to consider:

  • Contrast the end of the (a) righteous and (b) wicked people.
  • How does this affect your daily living?
  • Relate verses 10 and 16.
  • What is your responsibility to (a) your national leader as compared to (b) God?
  • Remember yesterday’s proverb?

Possibilities for prayer:

I like verses 17 and 18 from this passage (especially when you read them in the context of verse 16 as well!). Many of the proverbs we’ve been reading talk about the wicked man and his inevitable downfall (among other things). But verses 17 and 18 remind us that we’re not to rejoice in the suffering of others, even others who are our “enemies.” God does not look kindly on our mockery, or gloating--the writer of the passage says that God will see it and disapprove. Today, let’s be particularly aware of situations where we might be tempted to be glad about bad things that happen to people who have hurt us or we consider our enemies. Let’s ask God to give us His heart toward everyone we counter, whether we like them or not. In fact, let’s be challenged to say a genuine prayer for the people we encounter today, especially the ones who have caused us pain.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Proverbs 24:1-12

1 Do not envy wicked men, 

do not desire their company;

2 for their hearts plot violence, 

and their lips talk about making trouble.

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.

5 A wise man has great power, 

and a man of knowledge increases strength;

6 for waging war you need guidance, 

and for victory many advisers.

7 Wisdom is too high for a fool; 

in the assembly at the gate he has nothing to say.

8 He who plots evil 

will be known as a schemer.

9 The schemes of folly are sin, 

and men detest a mocker.

10 If you falter in times of trouble, 

how small is your strength!

11 Rescue those being led away to death; 

hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

12 If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," 

does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? 

Does not he who guards your life know it? 

Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

Questions to consider:

  • Relate wisdom and strength.
  • To what extent is your social concern accompanied by action (take a look at verses 11-12)?
  • Memorize a proverb!
Possibilities for prayer:

Have you ever found yourself wishing that you could “just do what everyone else is doing”? Maybe that means going out and partying hard on the weekends, or maybe it means calling in sick to work when you’re actually not sick at all. Sometimes the things that “everyone else” are doing seem pretty harmless...and other times, we know that they’re not good at all. Verses 1 and 2 of this passage remind us that envying the “wicked” is not something that we should do and for good reason! Today, let’s ask God to give us desires that seek after the heart of God rather than the rather superficial and fleeting desires of the earth.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Proverbs 23:24-35

24 The father of a righteous man has great joy; 

he who has a wise son delights in him.

25 May your father and mother be glad; 

may she who gave you birth rejoice!

26 My son, give me your heart 

and let your eyes keep to my ways,

27 for a prostitute is a deep pit 

and a wayward wife is a narrow well.

28 Like a bandit she lies in wait, 

and multiplies the unfaithful among men.

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? 

Who has strife? Who has complaints? 

Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?

30 Those who linger over wine, 

who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.

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 imagine confusing things.

34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, 

lying on top of the rigging.

35 "They hit me," you will say, "but I'm not hurt! 

They beat me, but I don't feel it! 

When will I wake up 

so I can find another drink?"

Questions to consider:

What do you take away from this passage as relevant to your life?
What things in your lives are like the red wine from verse 31?
How can you avoid those things?

Possibilities for prayer:

This passage strikes me as being about the more practical aspects of wisdom. We sometimes think of wisdom as a very grand idea that is more about understanding in a very broad and over-arching way, but this passage refers to the importance of using wisdom in making simple, even everyday decisions. Let’s take this day (or tomorrow if you’re reading this at night) to seek God’s wisdom as we go about our daily routines, making decisions that may seem small or mundane. You might be surprised at the results!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Proverbs 23:14-23

14 Punish him with the rod 

and save his soul from death.

15 My son, if your heart is wise, 

then my heart will be glad;

16 my inmost being will rejoice 

when your lips speak what is right.

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, 

but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.

18 There is surely a future hope for you, 

and your hope will not be cut off.

19 Listen, my son, and be wise, 

and keep your heart on the right path.

20 Do not join those who drink too much wine 

or gorge themselves on meat,

21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor, 

and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, 

and do not despise your mother when she is old.

23 Buy the truth and do not sell it; 

get wisdom, discipline and understanding.

Questions to consider:
  • Relate the “fear of the Lord” with (a) wisdom and (b) hope.
  • To what extent do you “envy” evil? Why?
Possibilities for prayer:

Have you ever had a moment when you’ve wished that you could “just do what everyone else was doing”? As a college student, I definitely remember there being moments when part of me wished that I didn’t have such particular standards or morals by which I was living my life. It seemed, in those moments, that things could have been so much easier if I would just “go with the flow.” The author here admonishes against such thoughts, and encourages the reader to be “zealous for the fear of the Lord.” Today, let’s ask for the ability and desire to seek diligently after God, and to not get caught up in the things of this world that may be tempting at first glance but ultimately not for our benefit.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Proverbs 23:1-13

1 When you sit to dine with a ruler, 

note well what is before you,

2 and put a knife to your throat 

if you are given to gluttony.

3 Do not crave his delicacies, 

for that food is deceptive.

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; 

have the wisdom to show restraint.

5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, 

for they will surely sprout wings 

and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

6 Do not eat the food of a stingy man, 

do not crave his delicacies;

7 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.

8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten 

and will have wasted your compliments.

9 Do not speak to a fool, 

for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone 

or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,

11 for their Defender is strong; 

he will take up their case against you.

12 Apply your heart to instruction 

and your ears to words of knowledge.

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; 

if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.

Questions to consider:
  • Which proverb from this passage is most meaningful for your life?
  • In what ways are we like the “stingy man?”
  • Who is the “Defender?”

Possibilities for prayer:

Verse 5 seems to be a reminder about the fleetingness of wealth and earthly possessions. Of course, we all know that our things don’t actually “sprout wings and fly off” (or do they? *wink wink*) but it certainly can feel that way! Let’s ask God for the restraint to limit our material possessions, no matter how tempting they may be, because they are here today and gone tomorrow. Let’s ask God for the wisdom and insight to desire more deeply the things that can’t be taken from us--like wisdom.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Proverbs 22:17-29

17 Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise;
apply your heart to what I teach,

18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart 

and have all of them ready on your lips.

19 So that your trust may be in the LORD, 

I teach you today, even you.

20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you, 

sayings of counsel and knowledge,

21 teaching you true and reliable words, 

so that you can give sound answers 

to him who sent you?
22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor 

and do not crush the needy in court,

23 for the LORD will take up their case 

and will plunder those who plunder them.

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, 

do not associate with one easily angered,

25 or you may learn his ways 

and get yourself ensnared.

26 Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge 

or puts up security for debts;

27 if you lack the means to pay, 

your very bed will be snatched from under you.

28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone 

set up by your forefathers.

29 Do you see a man skilled in his work? 

He will serve before kings; 

he will not serve before obscure men.

Questions to consider:
  • List the attitudes and actions that a wise person must (a) avoid and (b) apply themselves to.
  • How does wisdom affect others?
Possibilities for prayer:

As we did earlier this week, we see God’ heart for justice again, in verses 22 and 23 of this passage. It’s a pretty cool concept to think of God as “tak[ing] up [the] case” of the poor and needy who have been exploited. I think that there are a lot of poor and needy people who do not feel that their “case” has been taken up by God. Today, let’s pray on behalf of the poor and needy in our city and around the world, and ask God to take up their cases even now, and to bring justice into their lives, freedom from oppression and exploitation.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Proverbs 22:1-16

1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; 

to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

2 Rich and poor have this in common: 

The LORD is the Maker of them all.

3 A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, 

but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

4 Humility and the fear of the LORD 

bring wealth and honor and life.

5 In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, 

but he who guards his soul stays far from them.

6 Train a child in the way he should go, 

and when he is old he will not turn from it.

7 The rich rule over the poor, 

and the borrower is servant to the lender.

8 He who sows wickedness reaps trouble, 

and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.

9 A generous man will himself be blessed, 

for he shares his food with the poor.

10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; 

quarrels and insults are ended.

11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious 

will have the king for his friend.

12 The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, 

but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

13 The sluggard says, "There is a lion outside!" 

or, "I will be murdered in the streets!"

14 The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; 

he who is under the LORD's wrath will fall into it.

15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, 

but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

16 He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth 

and he who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

Questions to consider:
  • Summarize the characteristics of the (a) righteous and wise man, and the (b) wicked and foolish man.
  • Can you recall a situation in your life where the proverbs you’ve memorized and read have been helpful?
  • Memorize another proverb!

Possibilities for prayer:

Verse 2 in this passage strikes me as rather humbling. We all have things, accomplishments, in our lives of which we are proud. We all have moments when we look down on another person, or judge someone for doing or saying something of which we don’t approve. But this particular proverb reminds us of the way in which we are all the same, no matter our successes or failures, our wealth or poverty. God is our maker, no matter who we are. Today, let’s ask God to give us humble hearts, to teach us to not see ourselves as better than those around us, and to value the goodness of each person as a creation of God.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Proverbs 21:16-31

16 A man who strays from the path of understanding 

comes to rest in the company of the dead.

17 He who loves pleasure will become poor; 

whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, 

and the unfaithful for the upright.

19 Better to live in a desert 

than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.

20 In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, 

but a foolish man devours all he has.

21 He who pursues righteousness and love 

finds life, prosperity and honor.

22 A wise man attacks the city of the mighty 

and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust.

23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue 

keeps himself from calamity.

24 The proud and arrogant man-"Mocker" is his name; 

he behaves with overweening pride.

25 The sluggard's craving 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.

27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable— 

how much more so when brought with evil intent!

28 A false witness will perish, 

and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever.

29 A wicked man puts up a bold front, 

but an upright man gives thought to his ways.

30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan 

that can succeed against the LORD.

31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, 

but victory rests with the LORD.

Questions to consider:

  • Contrast the futures of wicked and righteous people.
  • Can you find and explain the metaphors?
  • Do you remember your proverb from yesterday? Why did you choose it?

Possibilities for prayer:

So, how intense is verse 30? If you read that like I do, you’re maybe a little overwhelmed by, well, the Lord. Nothing we can do/think/try is bigger than or more powerful than God. For us, as people who are seeking God, this is a good thing! God is big, powerful, and on our side, desiring good things for us (and wants to give us wisdom if we’ll ask). Today, let’s praise God for the greatness, strength, and love for us (among many other things) that characterize Him.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Proverbs 21:1-15

1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; 

he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

2 All a man's ways seem right to him, 

but the LORD weighs the heart.

3 To do what is right and just 

is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, 

the lamp of the wicked, are sin!

5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit 

as surely as haste leads to poverty.

6 A fortune made by a lying tongue 

is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.

7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away, 

for they refuse to do what is right.

8 The way of the guilty is devious, 

but the conduct of the innocent is upright.

9 Better to live on a corner of the roof 

than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

10 The wicked man craves evil; 

his neighbor gets no mercy from him.

11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; 

when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge.

12 The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked 

and brings the wicked to ruin.

13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, 

he too will cry out and not be answered.

14 A gift given in secret soothes anger, 

and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.

15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous 

but terror to evildoers.

Questions to consider:

  • What themes do you see in these proverbs?
  • What is your response to the law of God in the particular areas of these proverbs? Why?
  • In what area do you need to change?
  • Memorize a proverb!

Possibilities for prayer:

Some of my favorite proverbs are those concerning justice (like verse 15 in this passage). It seems that they give us some insight into God’s heart for justice, which-- for a community that is diligently seeking more and more of God’s vision for justice, particularly for this city--is an important and useful thing! Today, let’s simply pray that God’s vision for justice would be present in our city. Let’s ask God to give us hearts of compassion toward the people in our city, and that we would be “[brought] joy” because justice has been done.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Proverbs 20:16-30

16 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger; 

hold it in pledge if he does it for a wayward woman.

17 Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, 

but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.

18 Make plans by seeking advice; 

if you wage war, obtain guidance.

19 A gossip betrays a confidence; 

so avoid a man who talks too much.

20 If a man curses his father or mother, 

his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.

21 An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning 

will not be blessed at the end.

22 Do not say, "I'll pay you back for this wrong!" 

Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.

23 The LORD detests differing weights, 

and dishonest scales do not please him.

24 A man's steps are directed by the LORD. 

How then can anyone understand his own way?

25 It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly 

and only later to consider his vows.

26 A wise king winnows out the wicked; 

he drives the threshing wheel over them.

27 The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man ; 

it searches out his inmost being.

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; 

through love his throne is made secure.

29 The glory of young men is their strength, 

gray hair the splendor of the old.

30 Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, 

and beatings purge the inmost being.

Questions to consider:

  • Categorize these proverbs as to (a) observation, (b) interpretation, (c) application.
  • What is distinctive about the (a) message and (b) style of a proverb?
  • Can you find and explain the metaphors?
  • Remember the proverb you memorized yesterday?

Possibilities for prayer:

A man's steps are directed by the LORD. 

How then can anyone understand his own way?

It’s easy to try to plan out our lives so that everything will end up “just so.” But if we are truly trying to live lives that seek after God and the good things God has for us, we can really never know what the next steps will be in life. Let’s ask God for the courage to hand our lives completely over, and for the confidence to know that the steps we are led into by Him are ultimately for our own good.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Proverbs 20:1-15

1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; 

whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

2 A king's wrath is like the roar of a lion; 

he who angers him forfeits his life.

3 It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, 

but every fool is quick to quarrel.

4 A sluggard does not plow in season; 

so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.

5 The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, 

but a man of understanding draws them out.

6 Many a man claims to have unfailing love, 

but a faithful man who can find?

7 The righteous man leads a blameless life; 

blessed are his children after him.

8 When a king sits on his throne to judge, 

he winnows out all evil with his eyes.

9 Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; 

I am clean and without sin"?

10 Differing weights and differing measures— 

the LORD detests them both.

11 Even a child is known by his actions, 

by whether his conduct is pure and right.

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see— 

the LORD has made them both.

13 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; 

stay awake and you will have food to spare.

14 "It's no good, it's no good!" says the buyer; 

then off he goes and boasts about his purchase.

15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, 

but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

Questions to consider:

  • Categorize these proverbs as to (a) observation, (b) interpretation, (c) application.
  • In what ways does each category reveal wisdom?

Possibilities for prayer:

How poignant verse 6 is! We are so willing to declare our unending, unfailing love for things and people, but when it really comes down to it, we are caught up in our own lives and thoughts and have a tendency to be unfaithful, even despite our best efforts. Today, let’s thank God for having both unfailing love AND faithfulness to His people. Where we fall short, God does not. So let’s take some time to be grateful for that.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Proverbs 19:16-29

16 He who obeys instructions guards his life, 

but he who is contemptuous of his ways will die.

17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, 

and he will reward him for what he has done.

18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; 

do not be a willing party to his death.

19 A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; 

if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, 

and in the end you will be wise.

21 Many are the plans in a man's heart, 

but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.

22 What a man desires is unfailing love; 

better to be poor than a liar.

23 The fear of the LORD leads to life: 

Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

24 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; 

he will not even bring it back to his mouth!

25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; 

rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge.

26 He who robs his father and drives out his mother 

is a son who brings shame and disgrace.

27 Stop listening to instruction, my son, 

and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice, 

and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.

29 Penalties are prepared for mockers, 

and beatings for the backs of fools.

Questions to consider:

  • How can you be kind to the poor today?
  • What positive qualities from this passage need to be part of your life today?
  • What negative aspects need to be rooted out?
  • Memorize a proverb!

Possibilities for prayer:

One thing that can be really difficult for me is to receive instruction. I tend to get really defensive when people challenge the way I like to do things or suggest that another way might be a better way. I think that for me, this is a pride issue. But according to this passage, there’s more at stake than pride--wisdom comes as a result of listening to advice and accepting instruction. So today let’s ask God to soften our hearts and open our ears for the receiving of advice and instruction, so that in the end “[we] will be wise”!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Proverbs 19:1-15

1 Better a poor man whose walk is blameless 

than a fool whose lips are perverse.

2 It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, 

nor to be hasty and miss the way.

3 A man's own folly ruins his life, 

yet his heart rages against the LORD.

4 Wealth brings many friends, 

but a poor man's friend deserts him.

5 A false witness will not go unpunished, 

and he who pours out lies will not go free.

6 Many curry favor with a ruler, 

and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts.

7 A poor man is shunned by all his relatives— 

how much more do his friends avoid him! 

Though he pursues them with pleading, 

they are nowhere to be found.

8 He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; 

he who cherishes understanding prospers.

9 A false witness will not go unpunished, 

and he who pours out lies will perish.

10 It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury— 

how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!

11 A man's wisdom gives him patience; 

it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

12 A king's rage is like the roar of a lion, 

but his favor is like dew on the grass.

13 A foolish son is his father's ruin, 

and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.

14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, 

but a prudent wife is from the LORD.

15 Laziness brings on deep sleep, 

and the shiftless man goes hungry.

Questions to consider:

  • Contrast the rich and the poor as to their (a) popularity and (b) ultimate success.
  • What is YOUR attitude toward (a) the rich and (b) the poor?
  • Is poverty necessarily related to sloth? Why?
  • What kind of people prosper, according to this passage?

Possibilities for prayer:

Have you ever found yourself so excited about something that you go ahead and do or say something without thinking about the consequences...and the consequences of those actions or words leave you wishing you’d thought before acting or speaking? It seems to me that such a situation is just what verse 2 in this passage is referring to. Knowledge and consideration should be important components of our words and actions, because acting too quickly and without thought can lead to unfortunate consequences. Let’s pray for patience to thoughtfully consider our words and actions, for the ability to not be hasty and “miss the way.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Proverbs 18:13-24

13 He who answers before listening— 

that is his folly and his shame.

14 A man's spirit sustains him in sickness, 

but a crushed spirit who can bear?

15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; 

the ears of the wise seek it out.

16 A gift opens the way for the giver 

and ushers him into the presence of the great.

17 The first to present his case seems right, 

till another comes forward and questions him.

18 Casting the lot settles disputes 

and keeps strong opponents apart.

19 An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, 

and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.

20 From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is filled; 

with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.

21 The tongue has the power of life and death, 

and those who love it will eat its fruit.

22 He who finds a wife finds what is good 

and receives favor from the LORD.

23 A poor man pleads for mercy, 

but a rich man answers harshly.

24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, 

but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Questions to consider:

  • Can you find and explain the metaphors?
  • What themes do you see?
  • Do you remember the proverb you memorized yesterday? How is it applicable to your life?

Possibilities for prayer:

I really like the way verse 15 lets us know that a sign of wisdom is the actual seeking of knowledge. It’s not enough to merely sit around waiting for knowledge to find us and fill us up--if we are wise, we will be looking for that knowledge all around us: in conversations with friends and family, in church, in small groups, etc. Today, let’s ask for the wisdom to recognize the knowledge existing all around us, just waiting for our ears to “seek it out.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Proverbs 18:1-12

1 An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; 

he defies all sound judgment.

2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding 

but delights in airing his own opinions.

3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt, 

and with shame comes disgrace.

4 The words of a man's mouth are deep waters, 

but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

5 It is not good to be partial to the wicked 

or to deprive the innocent of justice.

6 A fool's lips bring him strife, 

and his mouth invites a beating.

7 A fool's mouth is his undoing, 

and his lips are a snare to his soul.

8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; 

they go down to a man's inmost parts.

9 One who is slack in his work 

is brother to one who destroys.

10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; 

the righteous run to it and are safe.

11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; 

they imagine it an unscalable wall.

12 Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, 

but humility comes before honor.

Questions to consider:
  • Observe the types of people in this passage. What happens to them? Why?
  • Can you find and explain the metaphors?
  • In what ways in your life is the name of the Lord a strong tower for you?
  • Memorize a proverb!

Possibilities for prayer:

It seems very telling that verse 11 says that the rich “imagine” their wealth to be an unscalable wall. This proverb can be a challenge to make us think more carefully about the things we value and imagine to our own saving graces. In what kinds of things are we putting our own trust, things that are not God or of God? Today, let’s confess our own “imagined unscalable walls,” and ask God to break those down so that He can build a real one, composed of His unfailing love, His grace, mercy, and compassion.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Proverbs 17:15-28

15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— 

the LORD detests them both.

16 Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, 

since he has no desire to get wisdom?

17 A friend loves at all times, 

and a brother is born for adversity.

18 A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge 

and puts up security for his neighbor.

19 He who loves a quarrel loves sin; 

he who builds a high gate invites destruction.

20 A man of perverse heart does not prosper; 

he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.

21 To have a fool for a son brings grief; 

there is no joy for the father of a fool.

22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, 

but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

23 A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret 

to pervert the course of justice.

24 A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, 

but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

25 A foolish son brings grief to his father 

and bitterness to the one who bore him.

26 It is not good to punish an innocent man, 

or to flog officials for their integrity.

27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, 

and a man of understanding is even-tempered.

28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, 

and discerning if he holds his tongue.

Questions to consider:
  • Compare verses 20 and 27-28.
  • Do you notice any themes? Any metaphors?
  • Memorize a proverb.

Possibilities for prayer:

I think that verse 27 helps us understand how knowledge and understanding can play out in our daily lives. If we have knowledge, we’re able to use restraint in our words, and if we truly have understanding, we’re able to be even-tempered. These actions can be reflections of the fact that we have knowledge and understanding. Today, let’s ask that we not only increase in knowledge and understanding, but that there would be reflections of these things in our lives through our actions and behaviors.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Proverbs 17: 1-14

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

2 A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son, 

and will share the inheritance as one of the family.

3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, 

but the LORD tests the heart.

4 A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; 

a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

5 Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; 

whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

6 Children's children are a crown to the aged, 

and parents are the pride of their children.

7 Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool— 

how much worse lying lips to a ruler!

8 A bribe is seen as a charm by those who give it; 

they think success will come at every turn.

9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, 

but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person 

more than a hundred lashes a fool.

11 Evildoers foster rebellion against God; 

the messenger of death will be sent against them.

12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs 

than a fool bent on folly.

13 Evil will never leave the house 

of one who pays back evil for good.

14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; 

so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

Questions to consider:
  • What should be your attitude toward your ethics considering verse 3?
  • Where is the source of wickedness?
  • What relationships do you see in this passage? What principles do you see for interaction in these relationships?

Possibilities for prayer:

Verse 9 seems rather relevant to most of our lives. We all have probably had friends who have had fights, and who come to us to help them process and/or resolve the conflict. In those moments, we have the opportunity to be peacemakers (read: foster love) or to create even more distance and tension in the relationship between friends depending on the stance we take and the words we choose. Today, let’s ask God to create in us the spirit of a peacemaker, that we would be able to use wise words spoken carefully to bring about reconciliation and to foster love in relationships around us (as well as our own!). Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9a) so we know that’s something for which we can strive!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Proverbs 16:17-33

17 The highway of the upright avoids evil; 

those who guard their ways preserve their lives.

18 Pride goes before destruction, 

a haughty spirit before a fall.

19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed 

than to share plunder with the proud.

20 Those who give heed to instruction prosper,

and blessed are those who trust in the LORD.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning, 

and gracious words promote instruction.

22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, 

but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, 

and their lips promote instruction

24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, 

sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

25 There is a way that appears to be right, 

but in the end it leads to death.

26 The appetite of laborers works for them; 

their hunger drives them on.

27 Scoundrels plot evil, 

and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.

28 The perverse stir up dissension, 

and gossips separate close friends.

29 The violent entice their neighbors 

and lead them down a path that is not good.

30 Those who wink with their eyes are plotting perversity; 

those who purse their lips are bent on evil.

31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor; 

it is attained in the way of righteousness.

32 Better a patient person than a warrior, 

those with self-control than those who take a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD.

Questions to consider:
  • Characterize perverse men.
  • To what extent are you getting wisdom as a result of studying Proverbs? Why?
  • To what extent have you been able to relate the proverbs to your own daily life?
  • Try to memorize a proverb!

Possibilities for prayer:

Ah! The infamous “pride goes before a fall” saying! Did you know that it actually came from the BIBLE?? Well, I guess the saying with which many of us are familiar only uses part of the actual verse--but still, some of those “words of wisdom” we all grew up hearing actually come from a reliable source! Since this saying has likely been heard--and spoken--by each of us, let’s take some time to pray against spirits that are prideful. Like Kyle talked about last Sunday, let’s seek out hearts of humility, spirits that want to serve and lead, not lead so we can be proud.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Proverbs 16:1-16

1 To human beings belong the plans of the heart,
but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.

2 People may think all their ways are pure, 

but motives are weighed by the LORD.

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, 

and he will establish your plans.

4 The LORD works out everything to its proper end— 

even the wicked for a day of disaster.

5 The LORD detests all the proud of heart. 

Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; 

through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided.

7 When the LORD takes pleasure in anyone's way, 

he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

8 Better a little with righteousness 

than much gain with injustice.

9 In their hearts human beings plan their course, 

but the LORD establishes their steps.

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle, 

and his mouth does not betray justice.

11 Honest scales and balances belong to the LORD; 

all the weights in the bag are of his making.

12 Kings detest wrongdoing, 

for a throne is established through righteousness.

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips; 

they value persons who speak what is right.

14 A king's wrath is a messenger of death, 

but the wise will appease it.

15 When a king's face brightens, it means life; 

his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold, 

to get insight rather than silver!

Questions to consider:
  • What part do (a) you and (b) God have in your plans?
  • Can you explain verse 6? What does it mean for your life?
  • Pick your favorite proverb and memorize it.

Possibilities for prayer:

“Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; 

through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided.”

I think this proverb is quite beautiful. Isn’t it kind of crazy to think that this was written long before Jesus had ever come into this world, and, through love and faithfulness, atones for our sins? It seems to me that God was making a promise perhaps even before it could be recognized as such. Today, let’s take some time to really thank God for the love and faithfulness that have atoned for our sins.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Proverbs 15:16-33

17 Better a meal of vegetables where there is love 

than a fattened calf with hatred.

18 A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, 

but a patient man calms a quarrel.

19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, 

but the path of the upright is a highway.

20 A wise son brings joy to his father, 

but a foolish man despises his mother.

21 Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, 

but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.

22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, 

but with many advisers they succeed.

23 A man finds joy in giving an apt reply— 

and how good is a timely word!

24 The path of life leads upward for the wise 

to keep him from going down to the grave.

25 The LORD tears down the proud man's house 

but he keeps the widow's boundaries intact.

26 The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, 

but those of the pure are pleasing to him.

27 A greedy man brings trouble to his family, 

but he who hates bribes will live.

28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, 

but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

29 The LORD is far from the wicked 

but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, 

and good news gives health to the bones.

31 He who listens to a life-giving rebuke 

will be at home among the wise.

32 He who ignores discipline despises himself, 

but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.

33 The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom,

and humility comes before honor.

Questions to consider:

  • What attributes of the Lord are revealed here?
  • Can you account for the different attitudes of God toward the various types of people in this chapter?
  • Do you notice any metaphors? Explain them.
  • Memorize a proverb. Do you still remember Tuesday’s?

Possibilities for prayer:

I love when simple things that were written so long ago still ring of truth. Have you ever heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine?” Well, it seems like a version of that “proverb” existed long, long ago.
“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart,
And good news gives health to the bones.”
Let’s thank God for the way the gift of joy, and the way that it can be such a healing thing in our lives, in both the emotional and physical senses. Not only is joy a pleasant feeling, but it can even have nearly medicinal purposes!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Proverbs 15:1-16

1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, 

but a harsh word stirs up anger.

2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, 

but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, 

keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

4 The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, 

but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

5 A fool spurns his father's discipline, 

but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

6 The house of the righteous contains great treasure, 

but the income of the wicked brings them trouble.

7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge; 

not so the hearts of fools.

8 The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, 

but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

9 The LORD detests the way of the wicked 

but he loves those who pursue righteousness.

10 Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; 

he who hates correction will die.

11 Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD—

how much more the hearts of men!

12 A mocker resents correction; 

he will not consult the wise.

13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, 

but heartache crushes the spirit.

14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, 

but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched, 

but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.

16 Better a little with the fear of the LORD 

than great wealth with turmoil.

Questions to consider:
  • What are the characteristics of the speech of a wise and foolish man?
  • To what extent are you wise in your speech?
  • Relate good and evil with the wise and fools.
  • Remember your proverb from yesterday? Try!

Possibilities for prayer:

Solomon makes an interesting point in verse 16: it’s better to not have many material possessions but to have the fear of the Lord than it is to have much in the midst of turmoil. This proverb seems to suggest the great value that should be placed on the fear of the Lord. And really, we shouldn’t be surprised that Solomon values this concept so much--we learned earlier that it is the fear of the Lord that can lead to wisdom, and wisdom is priceless. Today, let’s ask God for a new perspective on the things that we have (or don’t have, as the case may be), asking that we might be grateful for whatever God has given us, but that we would also see the value in the less material things in our lives as well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Proverbs 14:18-35

18 The simple inherit folly, 

but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

19 Evil men will bow down in the presence of the good, 

and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.

20 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, 

but the rich have many friends.

21 He who despises his neighbor sins, 

but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.

22 Do not those who plot evil go astray? 

But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.

23 All hard work brings a profit, 

but mere talk leads only to poverty.

24 The wealth of the wise is their crown, 

but the folly of fools yields folly.

25 A truthful witness saves lives, 

but a false witness is deceitful.

26 He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, 

and for his children it will be a refuge.

27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, 

turning a man from the snares of death.

28 A large population is a king's glory, 

but without subjects a prince is ruined.

29 A patient man has great understanding, 

but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, 

but envy rots the bones.

31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, 

but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, 

but even in death the righteous have a refuge.

33 Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning 

and even among fools she lets herself be known.

34 Righteousness exalts a nation, 

but sin is a disgrace to any people.

35 A king delights in a wise servant, 

but a shameful servant incurs his wrath.

Questions to consider:

  • What is the author’s attitude toward the poor?
  • Compare verse 27 with 13:14 and 10:11.
  • How do verses 34-35 relate to Solomon’s own interests?
  • Try to memorize a proverb. Do you still remember yesterday’s?

Possibilities for prayer:

In verse 31 we see God’s heart for justice. Oppression is compared to showing contempt for God, but kindness to those in need is a way to honor God. Let’s ask for an understanding of what justice can look like in this world, for our hearts to desire to see that justice come to this world, and that we would be finding means of bringing that justice to reality.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Proverbs 14:1-17

1 The wise woman builds her house, 

but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

2 He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, 

but he whose ways are devious despises him.

3 A fool's talk brings a rod to his back, 

but the lips of the wise protect them.

4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, 

but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.

5 A truthful witness does not deceive, 

but a false witness pours out lies.

6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, 

but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

7 Stay away from a foolish man, 

for you will not find knowledge on his lips.

8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, 

but the folly of fools is deception.

9 Fools mock at making amends for sin, 

but goodwill is found among the upright.

10 Each heart knows its own bitterness, 

and no one else can share its joy.

11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed, 

but the tent of the upright will flourish.

12 There is a way that seems right to a man, 

but in the end it leads to death.

13 Even in laughter the heart may ache, 

and joy may end in grief.

14 The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, 

and the good man rewarded for his.

15 A simple man believes anything, 

but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.

16 A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, 

but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.

17 A quick-tempered man does foolish things, 

and a crafty man is hated.

Questions to consider:

  • Contrast the attitudes toward God in this chapter.
  • What is significant about the emotions revealed here?
  • What are the rewards for the upright? consequences for the wicked?
  • Memorize a proverb. :)

Possibilities for prayer:

It’s so interesting to me that as we progress through this book we continue to encounter things that are just as true today as they were hundreds of years ago when they were written. Verse 13 reminds us that we need to truly embrace the good things that come our way, to make the most of the joy that we encounter in our lives because it may not last forever. Today, let’s say a special prayer of thanks for the good things, for the joy that we have encountered in our lives. Let’s also ask that we are able to appreciate future times of joy, that we might be able to fully enter into those moments.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Proverbs 13:13-25

13 Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, 

but whoever respects a command is rewarded.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, 

turning a person from the snares of death.

15 Good judgment wins favor, 

but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction. 

16 All who are prudent act with knowledge, 

but fools expose their folly.

17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble, 

but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.

18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, 

but whoever heeds correction is honored.

19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, 

but fools detest turning from evil.

20 Walk with the wise and become wise, 

for a companion of fools suffers harm.

21 Trouble pursues the sinner, 

but the righteous are rewarded with good things.

22 Good people leave an inheritance for their children's children, 

but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous.

23 An unplowed field produces food for the poor, 

but injustice sweeps it away.

24 Those who spare the rod hate their children, 

but those who love them are careful to discipline them.

25 The righteous eat to their hearts' content,
but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

Questions to consider:
  • Compare verse 14 with 10:11
  • Locate and explain the metaphors.
  • How can you develop wisdom.
  • Just for fun (again) choose a proverb to memorize.

Possibilities for prayer:

Again I am struck by the beauty and wisdom in Solomon’s words. Verse 23 speaks of the potential of a field to bring about good things for those less fortunate, but the fact that injustice so often gets in the way and destroys potential. Today, let’s ask for hearts for justice, hearts that cry out for the weak and needy, and have a deep desire to bring about justice in this world. God has a heart for the broken and helpless--let’s ask that more of that heart be shared with us; that we would be able to see potential around us and bring that potential to fulfillment.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Proverbs 13: 1-12

1 A wise child heeds a parent's instruction,
but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.

2 From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things, 

but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence.

3 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, 

but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

4 A sluggard's appetite is never filled, 

but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

5 The righteous hate what is false, 

but the wicked make themselves a stench 

and are filled with shame.

6 Righteousness guards the person of integrity, 

but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

7 One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; 

another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

8 The rich may be able to ransom their lives, 

but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes.

9 The light of the righteous shines brightly, 

but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.

10 Where there is strife, there is pride, 

but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

11 Dishonest money dwindles away, 

but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, 

but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Questions to consider:
  • What is the wise attitude toward (a) parental and (b) God-given instruction?
  • Relate wisdom and discipline.
  • In what areas of your life do you need to be more disciplined?
  • What are the principles here about riches and poverty?

Possibilities for prayer:

Some of the proverbs that Solomon wrote strike me as particularly poetic and beautiful. In this passage, verse 12 strikes me as especially lovely. Today, let’s ask God to fulfill the longings of our hearts, and that those longings would be so closely tied up in who He is and what He wants for our lives that those longings are just naturally fulfilled.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Proverbs 12:15-28

15 The way of fools seems right to them, 

but the wise listen to advice.

16 Fools show their annoyance at once, 

but the prudent overlook an insult.

17 An honest witness tells the truth, 

but a false witness tells lies.

18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, 

but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

19 Truthful lips endure forever, 

but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, 

but those who promote peace have joy.

21 No harm overtakes the righteous, 

but the wicked have their fill of trouble.

22 The LORD detests lying lips, 

but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, 

but a fool's heart blurts out folly.

24 Diligent hands will rule, 

but laziness ends in forced labor.

25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, 

but a kind word cheers it up.

26 The righteous choose their friends carefully, 

but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

27 The lazy do not roast any game, 

but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.

28 In the way of righteousness there is life
along that path is immortality.

Questions to consider:
  • How do you react to insults? Why?
  • What kind of speech is most associated with you? Why?
  • Contrast diligence and sloth.
  • Because I think this is a cool idea, memorize a proverb again. Do you still remember the day before yesterday’s?
Possibilities for prayer:

I am particularly fond of verse 25 in this passage. How true it is that anxiety makes our hearts heavy--and how equally true that even just the simplest kind word or gesture can make a world of difference! Today, let’s pray against anxiety to begin with, but also, let’s ask that God would be using us to offer the kind words to cheer up the anxious.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Proverbs 12:1-14

1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, 

but he who hates correction is stupid.

2 A good man obtains favor from the LORD, 

but the LORD condemns a crafty man.

3 A man cannot be established through wickedness, 

but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

4 A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, 

but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

5 The plans of the righteous are just, 

but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, 

but the speech of the upright rescues them.

7 Wicked men are overthrown and are no more, 

but the house of the righteous stands firm.

8 A man is praised according to his wisdom, 

but men with warped minds are despised

9 Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant 

than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

10 A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, 

but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

11 He who works his land will have abundant food, 

but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.

12 The wicked desire the plunder of evil men, 

but the root of the righteous flourishes.

13 An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, 

but a righteous man escapes trouble.

14 From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things 

as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.

Questions to consider:
  • Contrast the (a) intentions and (b) ends of the (a) wicked and (b) righteous person.
  • In what areas of life are these contrasts evident?
  • Do you you notice any themes? What?

Possibilities for prayer:

Again we see many comparisons between the wicked and the righteous (and my hunch is we’ll continue to see lots more!). It’s been made pretty clear that we want to find ourselves sitting in the camp of the righteous if we want to be pleasing God and seeing good things coming into our lives. Let’s ask God first for an increase in our desire to be righteous, and then for the wisdom to make it happen.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Proverbs 11:16-31

16 A kindhearted woman gains respect, 

but ruthless men gain only wealth.

17 A kind man benefits himself, 

but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.

18 The wicked man earns deceptive wages, 

but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.

19 The truly righteous man attains life, 

but he who pursues evil goes to his death.

20 The LORD detests men of perverse heart 

but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, 

but those who are righteous will go free.

22 Like a gold ring in a pig's snout 

is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good, 

but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; 

another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

25 A generous man will prosper; 

he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

26 People curse the man who hoards grain, 

but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.

27 He who seeks good finds goodwill, 

but evil comes to him who searches for it.

28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, 

but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

29 He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, 

and the fool will be servant to the wise.

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, 

and he who wins souls is wise.

31 If the righteous receive their due on earth, 

how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

Questions to consider:

  • What do your actions reveal about the basic qualities of your life?
  • What themes do you see in this passage?
  • Again, try to memorize a proverb from this passage that has some relation to your own life.

Possibilities for prayer:

Sometimes when we are living lives that involve a lot of giving to others-- physically, emotionally, mentally, financially-- it feels like we are pulling from what we no longer even have. But verse 25 is encouraging in that regard--not only are the generous people going to prosper, but there’s a promise that those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. We’ve probably all experienced that warm feeling that comes from doing something good for someone else, but there may come a time when that warm feeling just doesn’t seem like enough anymore. I think the key to the refreshment is to be constantly going to God for re-fueling sessions. Let’s ask God to re-fuel us so that we don’t feel over-spent and over-weary, and thank God for the promise that even in being refreshers, we can find refreshing for ourselves.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Proverbs 11:1-15

1 The LORD abhors dishonest scales, 

but accurate weights are his delight.

2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, 

but with humility comes wisdom.

3 The integrity of the upright guides them, 

but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, 

but righteousness delivers from death.

5 The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, 

but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.

6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them, 

but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.

7 When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; 

all he expected from his power comes to nothing.

8 The righteous man is rescued from trouble, 

and it comes on the wicked instead.

9 With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, 

but through knowledge the righteous escape.

10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; 

when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, 

but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.

12 A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, 

but a man of understanding holds his tongue.

13 A gossip betrays a confidence, 

but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

14 For lack of guidance a nation falls, 

but many advisers make victory sure.

15 He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, 

but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.

Questions to consider:

  • How are (a) wickedness and (b) righteousness manifested in everyday (a) personal and (b) social life?
  • What are God’s attitudes toward the (a) wicked and (b) righteous person?
  • What metaphors do you see? What do they mean?

Possibilities for prayer:

Verse 14 stands out to me as incredibly relevant in our lives This proverb does not need to be explicitly referring to an actual nation, but can serve as a metaphor for, say, our lives. When we try to do things on our own, without guidance or help, it inevitably fails at some point, just like a nation. But with guidance and advice, particularly from God and from wise friends, we can make it through even some of the most difficult and confusing situations. Today, let’s ask that we would be wise and willing to ask for guidance and input, from God, and from those in our lives that we can trust to have God-given wisdom as well.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Proverbs 10:17-32

17 He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, 

but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

18 He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, 

and whoever spreads slander is a fool.

19 When words are many, sin is not absent, 

but he who holds his tongue is wise.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, 

but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many, 

but fools die for lack of judgment.

22 The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, 

and he adds no trouble to it.

23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, 

but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

24 What the wicked dreads will overtake him; 

what the righteous desire will be granted.

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, 

but the righteous stand firm forever.

26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, 

so is a sluggard to those who send him.

27 The fear of the LORD adds length to life, 

but the years of the wicked are cut short.

28 The prospect of the righteous is joy, 

but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

29 The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous, 

but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

30 The righteous will never be uprooted, 

but the wicked will not remain in the land.

31 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, 

but a perverse tongue will be cut out.

32 The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, 

but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

Questions to consider:

  • How are wisdom and righteousness related to your life?
  • For fun, try choosing and memorizing a proverb from this passage. How does it relate to your daily life?

Possibilities for prayer:

It’s interesting to think of the “way of the Lord” as a refuge for the righteous--that’s us, Jesus followers--isn’t it? It seems like it should be a path that we follow that maybe leads us to a refuge, but to be a refuge in itself seems a little bit strange. But that is part of what is so exciting about God--things are bigger and better than what we expect or can imagine. Today, let’s ask God to show us the “way of the Lord” so that we can take refuge in Him.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Proverbs 10:1-16

1 The proverbs of Solomon:
Wise children bring joy to their father,
but foolish children bring grief to their mother.

2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, 

but righteousness delivers from death.

3 The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry, 

but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

4 Lazy hands make for poverty, 

but diligent hands bring wealth.

5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, 

but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous, 

but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.

7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings, 

but the name of the wicked will rot.

8 The wise in heart accept commands, 

but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, 

but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief, 

and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, 

but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

12 Hatred stirs up dissension, 

but love covers over all wrongs.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, 

but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.

14 The wise store up knowledge, 

but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, 

but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

16 The wages of the righteous is life, 

but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

Questions to consider:
  • Which of the pieces of wisdom offered in this passage feels most relevant for your life?
  • Do you see a common theme in the proverbs offered here?
  • What does it mean for the wages of the righteous to be life, when we know that Jesus paid the price to cover over our sin--and we are often NOT righteous?

Possibilities for prayer:

Verse 12 speaks strongly to the power of love: it covers over all wrongs. That’s a pretty intense statement for Solomon to make, especially in the pre-Jesus context. We have a model for what real love looks like, and 1 Corinthians 13 pretty clearly spells it out for us. But even hundreds of years before Jesus would walk this earth, there was an understanding of the deep power that love has. Let’s thank God for the power of this love and ask that He would continue to show us what that true, deep love looks like, and how to use it best in this world.