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Friday, March 6, 2015

Proverb for the Day 6:23-24 -- A Different Way To Live!

For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life, keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.

Verse 23 notes that "father's commands" (:20) and "mother's teaching" (:20) are a "lamp" and a "light" to illuminate "the way to life" for their son (:20).

The guidance of loving parents can be so powerful - offering the same kind of direction and understanding about life as the well-known "lamp" and "light" of God's Word (Psalm 119:105).

But "the corrections of discipline" sound like such a downer - just plain old punishment!

Although I'll suggest the phrase actually offers so much more. "Corrections" are designed to put us back on course, after we got sidetracked.

"Discipline," coming from the same root as being a "disciple," speaks of voluntarily submitting to a "way of life." It's all about being willing to make changes and commit to following a planned system of doing things.

At first glance these verses has a pretty negative feel - like others always telling me what to do and punishment every time I do wrong! Yet I actually think it offers some pretty optimistic concepts.

All who are willing to receive direction from those who care for us and accept discipline as being for our own good are well down the road of a pretty exciting and meaningful "way to life."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Proverb for the Day 5:21-23 -- But We Don't Have To Live Like That!

For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths. the evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.

This entire chapter is instruction from a father to his son about the value of marriage and the folly of infidelity. These are the last three verses of the chapter and offer a bottom line perspective.

In the end, "a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths" (:21). God sees all we do. He will bless appropriate decisions and also address inappropriate ones.

But "the evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast" (:22). Generally, the consequences we suffer are not because of God's direct intervention. It's simply the natural result of our own bad decisions. We'll have no one else to blame.

And the sad fact is that "he will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly" (:23). Our demise will not be due to a lack of knowledge or will be our lack of personal discipline.

Yet, we don't have to live that way! While no one's perfect and we all make bad decisions, we don't have to spend a lifetime doing evil deeds and living wickedly.

The LORD calls us to face our shortcomings, address them and let them go. If we're willing, He'll give us the empowerment to do so and begin experiencing a different - and much more meaningful - way of life!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Proverb for the Day 4:3-4 -- I'm telling You What My Dad Told Me!

When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, He taught me and said, "Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live

Solomon tells to his sons (:1) to listen to what he had to say to them - because he's offering good advice and because it will help them in their lives (:1-2). In our verses he also tells them about the things his father, David, told him growing up (:3).

Solomon said his father told him, "Lay hold of my words...keep my commands." A good dad should have meaningful and valuable things to say to his kids...and we would do well to listen.

What David told Solomon was that he needed to do this "with all your heart." What he offered was important advice and should be conscientiously applied in our lives.

David added that paying attention to what he said "you will live." Taking advantage of good advice might just keep us alive. It can certainly help us live better.

But...I know a guy in recovery who had a 12-Step home group and a 12-Step sponsor in addition to a home church and a spiritual mentor. He also was in counseling with a mental health professional -- and all these folks were great sources of proper guidance.

Yet my friend still relapsed. All the best advice in the world won't do us any good -- if we don't seriously and conscientiously apply it in our day at a time!

Postscript: Happy to report my friend did regroup, is back in recovery and, hopefully, is listening and applying!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Proverb for the Day 3:30 -- No Harm, No Foul!

Do not accuse anyone for no reason— when they have done you no harm.

This verse is the final wise saying about those with whom we have relationships (:27-30). It's good advice for today...and, maybe, even tomorrow.

"Do not accuse anyone for no reason" - we need to be honest about our dealings with other people. While they may have done something that annoy us - maybe even dissed us a little - we need to be honest about the situation. Did they really do us any harm?"

"When they have done you no harm" - once we can be honest about the fact that they really didn't, we should be honest with ourselves. Do we really have any reason to accuse them of anything?

Jesus said it this way, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12). Today, we call it the Golden Rule, I learned it in elementary school.

Admittedly, this is easier to discuss than it is to practice - but it's a great way to live. Our lives would be so much simpler if we could just think and do things like this.

Besides, this wise saying sets us up to practice a modern proverb: "It pays to be nice to the people we meet on the way up, for they are the same people we will meet on the way down!"

Monday, March 2, 2015

Proverb for the Day 2:20 -- Hanging With Wisdom & Wise Guys!

Thus you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous

This verse talks about those who hang out with Wisdom. In particular, it discusses who those that hang with Wisdom find themselves spending time with!

They will be "walking in the ways of good men" and "keeping to the paths of the righteous." In the presence of "good men (and women!) and...the righteous" is a pretty good place to be.

"Walking in the ways of...and keep to the paths of" seem to suggest an ongoing one-day-at-a-time situation where we just try to keep doing the next right thing. It's a process that just has to take some time.

Here at Helping Up Mission, guys often join our 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program with no intention of staying the full year. When they arrive, they're just worn out and often of ill health.

We accept all as they are, regardless of what their plans are when they arrive and we simply try to help everyone get and feel better. So it is no surprise that, if a guy decides to stay a while, he begins to experience some of the benefits of walking with good people.

Happily, at that point, many guys really buy into the process. And God begins to make them one of the "good men" and "righteous" that others want to hang out with, too!