Sunday, August 20, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 83, Law And Order

Solomon discusses some matters today dealing with law and order, with the laws of God and with the laws of an organized society. He urges his son to be a godly man, a man who respects the word of God and the laws of the land.

"Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. 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 everyone according to what they have done?" (Proverbs 24:11-12) We ought to care about the lost. When we get to heaven, and God asks us why we never shared the gospel of Jesus Christ, it won't do us any good to shrug our shoulders and say, "We didn't know our friends and neighbors were lost. And besides that, we thought it was their own business to find their way to Christ. We didn't want to interfere." The Lord Jesus never taught about a private faith. He never told us to maintain a silent faith that we hold secretly within our hearts. Instead He said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15)

"Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." (Proverbs 24:13-14) In Solomon's day you couldn't go to Kroger and buy honey in the little bear-shaped containers. It was found only in the wild, where a traveling man might suddenly come upon a beehive on his journey. This was an unexpected but welcome treat, so Solomon says, "My son, you should desire wisdom as eagerly as you desire to eat the honey you find along your journey. It should taste as sweet on your tongue. It should be just as satisfying. A man who is faint with hunger will find renewed strength and hope after he partakes of the honey. In the same way, the man who is faint with the cares of this world and with the heavy burden of his sins will find renewed strength and hope when he finds the wisdom of the word of God."

"Do not lurk like a thief near the house of the righteous, do not plunder their dwelling place; for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes." (Proverbs 24:15-16) Solomon taught us in Proverbs 3:28 not to mistreat those around us, "Do not plot harm against your neighbor who lives trustfully near you." Burglary is a terrible sin. People go off to work or go about the business of their lives and expect to come back to find things in their houses exactly as they left them, not knowing that someone was lying in wait to rob them of the things they've worked for. Burglary committed when the homeowner is present is even worse, for violence usually ensues.

Just this month in my community a young man was arrested for beating, raping, and robbing his 89-year-old neighbor who later died from her injuries. She lived trustfully by him, not suspecting the wickedness that was in his heart. If he's charged with capital murder, as seems likely at this point, he faces life in prison without parole or even the death penalty. We shake our heads over such stories in the news and wonder what the world is coming to and wonder how much longer God is going to be able to stand it before He brings judgment on the world. In Solomon's day similar crimes happened and the public wondered what the outcome would be, so the king asks, "Does God not judge such things? Does He not have His eye on the righteous? Does He not punish the wicked? Of course He does! Whether or not human courts find the evil person guilty, we can rest assured that someday the offender will stand before our holy Judge, and that will be a terrifying day indeed. That will be a day of darkness and despair, a day when the offender can offer no excuse. He has no excuse, only the expectation of judgment."

It's human nature for us to rejoice when a wicked person gets what's coming to him, especially when that particular person who did harm to us gets what's coming to him. But Solomon warns the godly not to gloat in the day of calamity. "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn His wrath away from them." (Proverbs 24:17-18) This is the type of advice that can be difficult to follow, but it's unseemly for the children of God to shout with joy or dance in the streets when an evil person falls under judgment. There should be something in our hearts that sorrows over the lost condition of our fellow man. There should be a sense of sadness over a wasted life.

The county I live in was shocked and saddened about what happened to the 89-year-old member of our community. We were relieved when law enforcement found the perpetrator and placed him behind bars where he can't hurt anyone else. But at the same time we look at his mug shot in the newspaper and wonder where he went so horribly wrong. What wayward path did this young man follow that caused him to waste his life this way and to take the life of another? We can be thankful for justice and sorrowful for the lost soul at the same time. We can thank God for keeping His promise to punish our enemies while also feeling sad about the lost condition of our enemy's soul. Jesus never told us not to expect the judgment of our enemies, but He still told us to pray for them. (Matthew 5:44) We are to pray when our enemy falls, not dance excitedly in the streets and send celebratory gifts to our friends. This is very hard to do, for it goes against our carnal natures, but it will make us more like Christ.

Solomon concludes today with one more piece of advice regarding law and order. "Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with rebellious officials, for those two will send sudden destruction on them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?" (Proverbs 24:21-22) The king instructs his son, "Fear the Lord and obey His laws. Obey Him first, but also obey the laws of the land. Live peaceably with those around you. Do not trespass against the word of God and do not trespass against your fellow man. Judgment will fall if you break the laws of God or the laws of the king. Don't join in with evildoers who plot against the righteous. God is watching. The king is watching. The one who is a lawbreaker will not go unpunished."

As king of Israel, Solomon had an intense interest in the law and order of his nation. He yearned to see everyone doing what was right, but when they did not, he was thankful that there were laws and penalties in place to deal with crime. The King of kings feels the same way. He yearns for us to do what is right, but if we do not, laws and penalties are in place to deal with our waywardness. If we obey our King we can live in the light of His favor. We can live without fear of judgment falling down upon our heads. Today's passage is not teaching salvation by works, but instead it deals with the natural outcome of our deeds. The one who lives in sinful wickedness is a lawbreaker, and lawbreakers must be punished. The one who obeys the laws of the land can walk in freedom without fear of arrest and imprisonment. In the same way, the one who trespasses against God's laws is in danger of judgment at every moment, but the one who respects and keeps God's laws enjoys the favor of the Lord. King Solomon was pleased with the righteous, and so is our God and King.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 82, Stepping Up Our Faith

"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." (Proverbs 24:3-4) Solomon may be speaking of a literal house here, but I tend to think he's using it more as a metaphor. A house can also be a small family, a large dynasty, or a lineage. A stable family and an enduring legacy cannot be established without wisdom. Solomon asks, "Do you want a happy home? Do you want to leave a godly legacy behind for your descendants? Then seek knowledge and understanding." Yesterday the king told us some things not to do if we want to keep our family together; today he tells us what we must do.

"The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength. Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers." (Proverbs 24:5-6) Brains often win out over brawn. Godly wisdom is power. When we study military battles in the Old Testament we find Israel and Judah victorious when they followed the Lord, but we see them meeting with defeat when they strayed from righteousness. David was vastly outnumbered in most of the battles he ever fought, but the Lord was his helper and his military adviser. I think I'd feel far safer going into battle with a group of godly, praying companions than with a group of muscle-bound fighters. When God fights on our side, victory is certain.

"Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths." (Proverbs 24:7) You've probably heard the saying, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Solomon takes this saying a step further, "If you can't say anything godly or wise, be quiet. You can't add anything to the conversation of the judges and the wise men at the gate, so it's better to listen and learn. Don't make a fool of yourself by speaking on matters you know nothing about."

"Whoever plots evil will be known as a schemer. The schemes of folly are sin, and people detest a mocker." (Proverbs 24:8-9) Wicked people are known in the community. It's hard to hide a scheming heart. Only those who are like them will want to associate with them.

Every time I read this next verse it hits me like a rebuke, but at the same time it motivates me to step up my faith. "If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!" (Proverbs 24:10) So often I've almost fainted under the heavy burden of troubles and worries! Many times I've almost given up. I've spent a lot of useless hours in doubt wondering whether my God was going to come through for me. Haven't you been there, too? Don't we all, from time to time, experience days that overwhelm us? Haven't we all encountered circumstances that threatened to rob us of our peace?

Sometimes we read the gospels and marvel over the weakness of the disciples' faith, but the Lord could often say to us the same thing He said to them, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" (Matthew 8:26) Jesus answers His own question within His question. Why were they so afraid? Because their faith was weak. Why are we so afraid when an unexpected event arises in our lives? Because our faith is weak. But this shouldn't discourage us! It should motivate us to aim higher. I don't think Jesus intended His question to the disciples as criticism but as an invitation to step up their faith. He wasn't condemning them. He didn't say, "These guys are never going to get it. I'm never going to be able to make fishers of men out of them, so they might as well go back to the sea of Galilee and cast their nets in for regular fish. I've tried and tried to raise them up higher but they insist on remaining in their comfort zone. I give up!" No, He never said this about the disciples, and He won't say this about us either.

Both Jesus and Solomon intend for us to use the words we've studied today as a spiritual checkup. Do we become discouraged easily when troubles come? Do we doubt the promises of a God who cannot lie? Do we think He's tired of coming to the rescue? Then we need to work on our faith. We need to work on our relationship with our Redeemer. He invites us to step it up, to move out of our comfort zones, to "press on toward the goal to win the prize". (Philippians 3:14) Jesus doesn't cast us aside when we falter anymore than He cast the disciples aside. Instead He says, "Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3) Jesus says something like, "Forget how you messed up yesterday. I'm not concerned with where you've been, but with where you're going. I'm inviting you to come along with Me on the greatest adventure of your life!"

Friday, August 18, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 81, Three Things That Destroy Families

Solomon provides more fatherly advice today. There are some traps that are easily seen and therefore easily avoided. He warns his son to avoid sexual immorality, drunkenness, and bad company.

"My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways, for an adulterous woman is a deep pit, and a wayward wife is a narrow well. Like a bandit she lies in wait and multiplies the unfaithful among men." (Proverbs 23:26-28) Solomon says, "Take heed to my teaching and observe the way I live. I don't run around with other men's wives. The idea may seem enticing, but it's like falling into a narrow well. It will be extremely difficult to extricate yourself. Don't listen to the flattering words of an immoral woman. She will cause you to be unfaithful to God and unfaithful to your wife. She will cause you to lose everything you have; and believe me, what you already have is more precious to you than you realize. It's more precious to you than the smooth words of a sinful woman. Don't take a chance on breaking your family up."

"Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?" (Proverbs 23:29) The king asks a series of short questions to make his son think about the people he has seen who have these troubles. Who are they? "Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine while it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper." (Proverbs 23:30-32) Alcohol can be as seductive as a beautiful woman, and as deadly. Alcohol has broken up as many families as adultery has, or perhaps even more.

"Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. '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?'" (Proverbs 23:33-35) Solomon is describing the person who has become an alcoholic. This person began using alcohol to numb himself from the cares of the world and ended up falling into a trap. Now he can no longer think about anything but his next drink.

The king concludes today with a third warning for his son. He must not associate with people who like to cause trouble. They will influence him to do wrong, and the next thing you know he will be just like them. "Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble." (Proverbs 24:1-2) The man or woman who falls in with the wrong crowd will soon be in deep trouble. Crime is another thing that splits families apart, when the mom or dad ends up in jail for things like embezzlement, burglary, or the manufacturing or selling of drugs. This is why the foster system is overflowing. Too many parents have taken the wrong path.

There are more reasons families break up than just the three Solomon mentions today, but the three he discusses are very common reasons. As children of the living God, we must avoid sexual immorality, drunkenness, and dishonesty. If we want to have stable homes, we have to say no to such temptations. We will never truly profit by doing wrong; we will only end up hurting ourselves, our spouses, and our children. Our families deserve better than that.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 80, Thirty Sayings Of The Wise, Part Four

Part four of Solomon's wise sayings contains mostly fatherly advice. He tells his son how to be a good man and how to make his parents proud of him.

"Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: Do not join with those who drink much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags." (Proverbs 23:19-21) Solomon says, "Drunkenness, gluttony, and laziness have been the ruin of many a person. The one who isn't responsible, and who doesn't get up and go about his work, will live in poverty. Partying all night won't pay the bills. Don't even associate with people like that."

"Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old." (Proverbs 23:22) The king advises, "Listen to the words of your father. I'm older and far more experienced than you are. I've made plenty of mistakes in my life and I've learned from them. If you take my instruction to heart you can avoid making those same mistakes. I want you to be an honorable and responsible man. I want to be able to trust you to look after your mother for me if I pass on before she does. Set my mind at ease by being a good son and a good man."

"Buy the truth and do not sell it---wisdom, instruction and insight as well." (Proverbs 23:23) The truth is not literally for sale, but Solomon expresses it this way to emphasize the fact that godly truth is more valuable than anything else his son could ever want. The Apostle Paul found this out when he came to Christ. He was previously a very prosperous and influential man, but when he came face to face with Christ, he realized nothing else meant anything to him. He said he had lost all things for the sake of Christ and he counted all those things as garbage in comparison to his relationship with the Lord. (Philippians 3:8) What use are riches and influence and fame if we don't have Christ? Without Him we are poor indeed.

"The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful!" (Proverbs 23:24-25) Those of you with godly children can relate to what Solomon is saying. It blesses your heart to know they are walking in the ways of the Lord. It takes a great load off your mind to see your children living for Christ.

The Father in heaven also relates to what Solomon is talking about. God has great joy over His righteous Son, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17) And the Father in heaven has great joy over all of us who have become His sons and daughters through Christ. There is no other way to make the Father proud of us, for, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6a) The Father's goal in us is to conform us to the image of His Son. (Romans 8:29) This is what is pleasing in the Father's eyes. The more we are like Jesus, the more the Father rejoices in us.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 79, Thirty Sayings Of The Wise, Part Three

Solomon gives us a strong warning about taking advantage of the weak, then a reminder about correcting a child when he disobeys, and then he cautions us not to envy the wicked. There is nothing about their lives to envy. There is nothing about their future to envy. The one who follows the Lord wholeheartedly is the person with the envious life and the glorious future.

"Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; He will take up their case against you." (Proverbs 23:10-11) Solomon quoted this law from Deuteronomy earlier in the week, but today he gives us the reason why we mustn't defraud others: their Defender is strong! There is a holy God with whom we must contend when we take advantage of our fellow man.

"Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge." (Proverbs 23:12) The king stops here to make sure his son, and all of us, are paying attention. We must be doers of the word and not hearers only, as the Lord's brother James said in James 1:22. We must apply this instruction to our hearts.

"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death." (Proverbs 23:13-14) In Solomon's day it's likely that discipline took the form of a spanking or paddling, but we've already talked before about discipline taking many forms. In our modern times spanking is becoming more and more frowned upon, but there are other means of correction when young children or teens disobey. When I was a kid I would much rather have had a spanking than a timeout because I was so hyper, but my mom wasn't much into spanking, so I often found myself sitting in a chair for a period of time after being naughty.

"My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right." (Proverbs 23:15) He says, "Son, the way to make me proud is to be a godly man." What more could any parent really want than for their sons and daughters to be upright, honorable, and responsible citizens who obey the Lord? This is successful parenting. This is the type of outcome that makes a mom or dad's heart overflow with pride and love.

The world views success differently than the Lord views it. The world rewards shrewdness and it honors wealth gotten by any means. But the Lord rewards and honors an upright heart, so Solomon cautions his son, "Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." (Proverbs 23:17-18) It may seem like sinners are living it up without a care in the world, but a day of reckoning is ahead of them. The psalmist Asaph once found himself feeling sad and bitter when he looked around and saw how much the wicked appeared to be enjoying life. He said, "I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked...This is what the wicked are like---always free of care, they go on amassing wealth." (Psalm 73:3,12) Asaph was going through some hard times in his life and it seemed unfair to him that the wicked were partying day and night without any worries. But when he took his troubles to the temple and laid them before the Lord, he saw the truth. He saw the destiny of the wicked, "Surely You place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!...Those who are far from You will perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You." (Psalm 73:18-19,27) In contrast, the righteous have the presence and the help of God at all times, plus the certain promise of eternity with the Lord. "Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory." (Psalm 73:23-24)

We, the church, have a glorious future! We also have a glorious present, for we have the constant companionship of our Creator and Redeemer. He is our help, our strength, our comfort. He is our provider and healer. His is the voice that whispers in the night, "Do not fear. I am with you."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 78, Thirty Sayings Of The Wise, Part Two

We continue on with the section called "Thirty Sayings Of The Wise".

"When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive." (Proverbs 23:1-3) This is social and dietary advice. It's unseemly to gorge ourselves when invited to the home of someone with authority over us. Solomon says to have the proper manners at the table. He's also telling us to be careful about eating rich food we aren't used to eating. It won't be very attractive at all if we become sick at the table.

"Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. 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." (Proverbs 23:4-5) It's unhealthy to be workaholics. The Lord wants us to have a good balance in our lives between work and leisure. I doubt anyone on their deathbed ever said, "Gosh, I wish I'd spent more time at work!" If we have any regrets on our deathbeds, they will be about not spending more time with our families or about not getting more enjoyment out of life while we were still physically able to go places and experience new things.

"Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. 'Eat and drink,' he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments." (Proverbs 23:6-8) At the beginning of the chapter we were told what is not acceptable behavior at the table of our host. Now Solomon talks about the host whose behavior is not acceptable. Wouldn't it be miserable to eat dinner with someone who doesn't really want to share? Solomon says, "By the time you get home, he will have made you so nervous that you will throw up the little bit you were able to eat. It's better to turn down the dinner invitation of someone whose heart isn't in it."

"Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words." (Proverbs 23:9) The Lord Jesus said something similar when He advised us not to cast our pearls to the swine in Matthew 7:6. There are some folks who will ask us religious questions not because they want to learn anything, but because they want to argue with us. They want to mock our faith. Solomon says, "Don't bother wasting your time with this. It doesn't honor the Lord to get caught up in foolish arguments that are going nowhere." There are some people who are willing to hear our testimonies of faith and there are some who only bring up the subject in order to stir up controversy. It's wise to know the difference. The only way we can testify to those who mock the Lord is by living honorable lives and by allowing them to see faith in action. They will pay more attention to how we live than to what we say.

I often think of this saying which is attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, "Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words." The message of the gospel is spread not only in words, but in actions. Words are cheap; the world is watching to see if we practice what we preach. It's no use to talk the talk if we don't walk the walk. Unbelievers know the difference. They can spot hypocrisy from a mile away. We may not be able to reach some of our acquaintances with words, but our mode of living will have an impact on them. As Christians we are to be about our Father's business, preaching the gospel at all times in both words and deeds. It's wise to do an occasional spiritual checkup to see if our actions are matching our words. Are we living out our faith on a daily basis? Are we treating others as we would have them treat us? Are we showing the love of Christ to our fellow man? Are we exhibiting trust in our Savior even when it seems like the world is falling down around us? These are the things that will have the most influence on unbelievers. We must preach the gospel in words to those willing to listen, but we must preach the gospel in actions to those whose hearts are hard.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 77, Thirty Sayings Of The Wise, Part One

We now begin a section called "Thirty Sayings Of The Wise". These recap much of what we have already studied, but with some different wording that gives us extra insight.

"Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have them ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you." (Proverbs 22:17-19)  Godly instruction is intended to be carried with us at all times, as the Lord said through Moses in Deuteronomy 11:18-21, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth." Our lives will be changed if we are always mindful of the words of the Lord, if we cherish these words in our hearts and memorize them in our minds. Then our "trust may be in the Lord", as Solomon says.

"Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve?" (Proverbs 22:20-21) Solomon is a man who values honesty. The Lord values it too, so if we want to serve Him honorably, we will serve Him honestly.

"Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life." (Proverbs 22:22-23) David, like Solomon, cared about the poor and needy, and he said, "My whole being will exclaim, 'Who is like You, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them." (Psalm 35:10) He praised the name of the Lord for taking up the cause of the oppressed, "I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy." (Psalm 140:12) We may be tempted to think, "I'm a nobody. I don't have money and I don't have influence. No one cares about my problems. No one will help me when I am defrauded." But the Bible contradicts that kind of thinking because the Lord is our mighty defender.

"Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared." (Proverbs 22:24-25) Solomon warned us early on in the book of Proverbs to be careful who we hang out with. As the Apostle Paul pointed out, "Bad company corrupts good character." (1 Corinthians 15:33)

"Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you." (Proverbs 22:26-27) This is yet another warning against co-signing loans, for promising to pay if someone defaults on their debts.

"Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your ancestors." (Proverbs 22:28) This law was given in Deuteronomy 19:14. Moving a boundary stone is the same as stealing. It's done for the purpose of making one's own property larger. My father once had to set our corner fence posts in concrete along one side of our property because a neighbor kept inching them inwards on us every time he strung up new barbed wire to keep his cows in. My father-in-law had to do the same for the pins that marked the back boundary of his property because the neighbor behind him kept trying to move them. This is thievery, and petty thievery at that. What is to be gained by a few additional inches of land? I think it has more to do with greed in a person's heart than with the land itself. It displays a spirit of covetousness and a willingness to defraud. Solomon says, "Don't harbor greed in your heart. Don't take what isn't yours. God has given that land to someone else; He will give you your own land. Don't covet what doesn't belong to you."

We conclude Chapter 22 with this wise saying, "Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank." (Proverbs 22:29) This is a good verse for our Monday morning as many of us go back to work. We are to do our best at our jobs, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." (Colossians 3:23) Solomon says, "The one who takes pride in his work and does his best will receive recognition." It may seem like those we work for never notice us or reward us, but we can be sure the King of kings notices us and will reward us. He is able to promote us. He is able to provide everything we need. As we go back to work or school this morning, or as we go about our business at home, let's remember which King it is we serve, and let's do everything for His glory.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 76, The One The Lord Holds In High Esteem

Solomon begins our lesson today by telling us what kind of person the King of kings holds in high esteem. It is the same type of person King Solomon wants for a friend.

"One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend." (Proverbs 22:11) Solomon says, "This is the kind of person I hold in high esteem! I have had many false friends who wanted to get close to me because I'm wealthy and influential, but what I want is a friend with a pure heart and honorable motives. I want a friend who can sit down and talk with me about the Lord with gracious and godly words." The King of kings is also looking for true friends with pure hearts and words of grace, as David pointed out, "Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god." (Psalm 24:3-4) The Lord Jesus has shown friendship to us by loving us and giving His life for us; the least we can do is repay His friendship by obeying Him from a pure heart. "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you." (John 15:13-15)

"The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but He frustrates the words of the unfaithful." (Proverbs 22:12) The Lord is able to uphold the godly plans of the righteous, but all wickedness will someday be blotted out. He is also able to preserve His holy word throughout all generations. Other religions have come and gone. Religious leaders have died and been buried. But the tomb of the Lord Jesus Christ is empty. He is alive and well and at the right hand of God making intercession for us at every minute of every day. He will keep all His promises to His bride, the church. He is coming for her soon.

Solomon now makes an observation on one of his favorite subjects: the shamefulness of being lazy. "The sluggard says, 'There's a lion outside! I'll be killed in the public square!'" (Proverbs 22:13) The king says, "The lazy man always makes excuses. He can't go out to work for this reason or that reason. It gets to the point that his mind becomes carried away with imagining dangers that don't exist!"

Earlier in the book of Proverbs we found Solomon giving his son and some other young men a great deal of advice about how to avoid immoral women. He brings the subject up again today to remind us what a trap sexual immorality is. "The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit; a man who is under the Lord's wrath falls into it." (Proverbs 22:14)

Solomon probably feels so strongly about the sin of adultery because his own family was stained by his father's sin. David took another man's wife and committed adultery with her, which led him to have her husband killed so he could pass off her illegitimate baby as his own. The Lord was displeased with what David had done. (2 Samuel 11:27) The Lord's wrath fell on the house of David. And the Lord's wrath will fall on the house of the man or woman who commits adultery with someone else's spouse. There is no way the Lord can bless such a sin. Trouble will come. Marriages will fall apart. Children will be hurt and confused. Financial woes will ensue. Friends and family members will take sides. The community will frown and shake their heads. Nothing good can come from such a thing, as Solomon knows from his own family's experience, and he wants to help us avoid these terrible troubles.

Next he speaks on the subject of discipline in the home. "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away." (Proverbs 22:15) Solomon isn't saying we have to spank our children or hit them with a paddle. The rod of discipline can be any type of consequences a parent might impose for disobedience. For small children these consequences might include a short timeout or the removal of a privilege for the day. For a teen it could mean taking away the phone or the internet access for a period of time or temporarily taking away the car keys because they didn't return home by their curfew. The point Solomon is making is that if we never impose any consequences for disobedience, our children will never learn to respect authority. They will never learn the importance of righteous living. They will have difficulty respecting God and honoring His word if they never learn to respect their parents and honor their rules.

The king concludes today's passage with a warning about oppressing others. "One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich---both come to poverty." (Proverbs 22:16) The Lord cares for the poor and He will judge anyone who cheats them and steals from them. Even Job, in his season of depression, praised the Lord for this, "He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; He saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth." (Job 5:15-16) The Lord promises to act on behalf of the poor who are being oppressed, "'Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,' says the Lord. 'I will protect them from those who malign them.'" (Psalm 12:5) David praised the name of the Lord because he knew the Lord would do this, "I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy." (Psalm 140:12) The Lord defends the poor and needy. He avenges the one who is cheated. He comes to the rescue of the one who is treated with injustice. As the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed in Jeremiah 50:34, "Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is His name."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 75, The Biblical Principle Of Shunning According To Jesus

Today we look at several principles, the last of which involves when and how to shun a person who is causing trouble in the home or in the church. This principle is intended to help the person to repent and change. If it does not work, at least harmony will be restored in the home and in the church.

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7) In our modern society it's almost impossible to own houses or cars without taking loans out for them, but this verse is still a reminder to us not to borrow more than we are able to pay. Just because the bank will lend us a certain amount doesn't necessarily mean we should borrow the maximum. A few years back, when the housing market crashed and the shady practices of the banking industry came to light, a lot of people ended up owing more on their homes than they were actually worth. They ended up owing more than they could pay. It's best to make big decisions prayerfully, because only the Lord knows what the economy will be like down the road and whether we will still be gainfully employed.

"Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken." (Proverbs 22:8) It may seem like wicked people are getting away with their injustice and cruelty, but that is impossible, for the word of God says a man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7) Some crops take longer to mature than others, but sooner or later that seed will sprout and yield a harvest, so Solomon reminds us that the one who sows seeds of injustice will reap a harvest of calamity.

"The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor." (Proverbs 22:9) As my pastor likes to say, "You can't outgive God." Those who donate money and time in order to help others do not go unnoticed by God. He remembers the deeds of the righteous as well as He remembers the deeds of the unrighteous. The one who plants the seeds of generosity will reap a harvest of plenty. As King David observed, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely, their children will be a blessing." (Psalm 37:25-26) David says, "The Lord sees the compassion you have on the poor and needy. Because you have helped the one who was hungry, the Lord will not allow you to go hungry. There will always be bread in your house. Your children will learn this principle and will be a blessing to the community, just as you have been."

"Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended." (Proverbs 22:10) The Bible provides examples for shunning a person who persists in causing trouble in the family or in the church family. One of the best examples is found in Matthew 18:15-17 where the Lord Jesus tells us how to deal with the person who is doing wrong. After three attempts at trying to work things out with them, He gives us permission to "treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector". In other words, we are free to cut off contact with them in the hopes that they will see the error of their ways and repent. If they do not, at least we will have achieved some peace and quiet.

We find it difficult to shun someone who treats us poorly because as Christians we naturally want to be loving and forgiving. Jesus gives us permission to offer three chances in Matthew 18:17 because sometimes a person is stubborn and doesn't learn from mistakes very quickly. But after that it's up to us if we want to continue to try and work things out. If we've given someone their three chances to shape up and they don't, Jesus will not judge us for saying, "I've had enough!" Please note that this does not apply to physical abuse. The first time a person puts your life or health in danger, you need to get out of their physical reach. You can continue to work on the relationship from a distance, but don't put yourself in a position to be harmed. You can continue loving that person, praying for that person, and trying to get help for that person. This is still offering them second and third chances. But don't risk your life or the lives of your children. Sometimes all we can do is take a hands off approach and leave everything up to God. We've done all we can do. We can't risk our safety, so we have to wait for God to change a person's heart.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 74, Jesus Loves Us

Solomon reminds us that our good name is more important than anything else we can achieve in this life. Riches can't buy back a lost reputation, and they can't buy our way into heaven. We get into heaven on faith alone, by trusting in the One who loves us.

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." (Proverbs 22:1) If we lose our good name, money can't buy it back. A good name is something we can leave behind that's far more valuable than wealth. I'd rather have my family remember me as a woman of the Lord than to have them remember me as the person who left them some money.

"Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all." (Proverbs 22:2) The same Creator made us all, and He "does not show favoritism". (Romans 2:11) God is not like a mortal man who might be tempted to show partiality to the wealthy. We all will stand before God to give an accounting for our lives, and money will be no help to us then. We won't bribe our way into heaven. We can't entice God to turn a blind eye to sin because of our wealth or social standing. On that day God will be concerned with only one thing: did we trust in His Son and obtain the salvation that comes by faith? Christ alone is our righteousness. We will either stand before God with Christ or without Him.

"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty." (Proverbs 22:3) I think this verse is very practical and also very spiritual. The wise person spots a trap in time to avoid falling into it, while the foolish person happily steps right into a pit. The wise person is led by the Holy Spirit and therefore possesses discernment, but the one who does not follow the Lord follows the ways of the world.

"Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life." (Proverbs 22:4) Pride is an attitude the Lord hates, but He rewards the one who humbles himself and acknowledges His sovereignty.

"In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls, but those who would preserve their life stay far from them." (Proverbs 22:5) This verse repeats the principle of verse 3. The wise are able to see a pit from a far distance, in plenty of time to change direction.

Next we look at one of the most familiar verses from the book of Proverbs. "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6) It is the duty of parents to begin moral and religious instruction while the child is still very small. We don't forget the lessons of early childhood. They become ingrained in our character. One of the earliest memories I have is of my mother singing "Jesus Loves Me" as she rocked me in the rocking chair in preparation for my afternoon nap. I was probably only about 3 years old, but that memory is still quite clear in my mind. Because she began my instruction at such an early age, I've always known that Jesus loves me. I have a feeling that, even if I end up someday with a dementia so powerful I don't know my name or the names of my loved ones, I will still know Jesus loves me.

After all, what more do we really need to know than "Jesus loves me"? That's the gospel! Jesus loves us so much He wasn't willing to part with us, sinful though we were. He was willing instead to lower Himself, to take on our image, and to suffer the punishment that should have fallen on us. The Apostle Paul said he didn't speak with eloquent and lofty words when he shared the gospel; he simply shared the fact that Jesus loves us, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2) Paul took no chances that he might confuse anyone by using big words or by delving so deeply into spiritual matters that his discussion went over people's heads. He preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He preached "Jesus loves me". That's the whole gospel. That's enough to save souls.

I don't know what you might be facing today, but there's one thing you can say to yourself without any doubts at all, "Jesus loves me." This truth will stand. Nothing can ever change it. No matter what storms may come into our lives, no matter how uncertain the future looks, we can hold fast to the one solid thing in a world gone mad: Jesus loves me!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 73, Our Strength And Shield

Solomon contrasts some of the behaviors of the wicked with the behaviors of the godly. He points out that our hope and our help are to be found in the Lord. We must do what is right and trust in Him to take care of us.

"Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity." (Proverbs 21:23) How many times have we gotten ourselves into trouble by letting our mouths get ahead of our minds?

"The proud and arrogant person---'Mocker' is his name---behaves with insolent fury." (Proverbs 21:24) The mocker sneers at the word of God. He ridicules the godly. He feels furious against all things religious.

"The craving of the sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing." (Proverbs 21:25) The sluggard wants the necessities of life and he desires the comfortable things, but he isn't willing to do what's necessary to obtain them. On the other hand we find the righteous man going about his honest labor. He has enough food for his family plus food to spare for the poor.

"The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable---how much more so when brought with evil intent." (Proverbs 21:26) When Israel kept going through the motions of worship without putting their hearts into it, the Lord said, "Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me." (Isaiah 1:12a) The Lord cannot abide hypocrisy. He would rather the people of Israel had stayed home and admitted to the coldness of their hearts than to have them come to the temple with sacrifices and offerings that meant nothing to them.

"A false witness will perish, but a careful listener will testify successfully." (Proverbs 21:27) The Old Testament penalty for bearing false witness was harsh. "If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." (Deuteronomy 19:16-21)

"The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways." (Proverbs 21:28) The wicked are able to put on a veneer of goodness and godliness, but below the surface we find many evil desires and schemes. The upright are the same on the inside as they appear on the outside.

"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord." (Proverbs 21:30) As the prophet Isaiah said, "The word of our God endures forever." (Isaiah 40:8b) The plans of God cannot be changed. He will keep every promise He has ever made.

"The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord." (Proverbs 21:31) If the Lord is not with the army, the soldiers assemble in vain. David knew that all his victories were due to the Lord's help, so he said, "I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but You give us victory over our enemies, You put our adversaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise Your name forever." (Psalm 44:6-8) The battle is the Lord's. It's sensible to make preparations and to take precautions, but we must recognize God is our helper and our security. Then we can say along with David, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him." (Psalm 28:7) Amen! We praise You, Lord. You are our helper. You are our strength and shield. You are mighty in battle and mighty to save. We place all our trust in You!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 72, The Pulling Down Of Strongholds

Solomon provides us with some examples of what happens to the fool and to the wicked person, then he reminds us who we are in the Lord. He reminds us that we are not powerless. In Christ we have a mighty arsenal of spiritual weapons at our disposal. No stronghold can stand against us. No scheme of hell will prevail over us.

"Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead." (Proverbs 21:16) The dead mentioned here (rephaim in Hebrew) are lost souls who remain eternally conscious in the afterlife, separated from God forever. In the Old Testament we find reference to actual people called the Rephaim, who were giants, but the word was also used in a negative sense to indicate souls inhabiting the realm of dead. These are not happy souls rejoicing in the presence of the Lord, but those who wanted nothing to do with Him in life and now will never have anything to do with Him in eternity.

"Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich." (Proverbs 21:17) Self-discipline is needed if we intend to make anything of ourselves.

"The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright." (Proverbs 21:18) So often in the Bible we find a wicked person scheming against a righteous person only to have trouble boomerang back on him. When we get to heaven I think we will be amazed to find out how many times the Lord stood between us and trouble, how many times He threw up His hand and put a halt to the wicked schemes of our fellow man or of the devil himself.

Solomon now renders some marital advice similar to that which he gave us yesterday, "Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife." (Proverbs 21:19) It's wise to date a person for a long time before marrying them. We need to see how they behave in a variety of situations and we need to observe the way they speak to others. We are not very likely to change them much once we've married them, so it's better to know up front what we're getting into. If the person we're dating seems hard to please, or if they complain all the time, or if they like to start quarrels, it might be best to get out now before we are legally bound to them.

"The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down." (Proverbs 21:20) We should save for a rainy day. The fool in Solomon's proverb lives only for today. He indulges himself in excess and doesn't plan for the future. But the wise person knows both how to enjoy today responsibly and how to save up for tomorrow.

"Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor." (Proverbs 21:21) Amen! Whoever follows our righteous Savior finds life eternal. Whoever rejoices in His love prospers in the faith, in all spiritual blessings, and even possibly in material blessings as well. The Christian life is an honorable life, a life for which the Lord will someday honor us by saying, "Well done!" (Matthew 25:21)

"One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust." (Proverbs 21:22) In this contest of brains versus brawn, brains win. Brains win in this case because they are guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Who can stand against the Lord? No muscles are strong enough and no weapons are sharp enough to fight against Almighty God. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) Our weapons are not the feeble instruments made by human hands, but the full armor of God from Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sturdy shoes of the gospel that can stand firm on any surface, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. What can stand against such mighty weapons? All the powers of hell and every stronghold of Satan must fall before a display of strength such as this! "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

Christ has won the victory for us and we have power in His name. We are more than conquerors through Him. (Romans 8:37) The gates of hell will not prevail over the kingdom of Christ. (Matthew 16:18) The Lord Jesus will soon crush Satan under our feet. (Romans 16:20) What shall we fear? Our God is for us!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 71, Justice Is Ours

Solomon first discusses a couple of miscellaneous items and then moves on into the subject of wickedness and its eventual judgment. Justice is already ours. A day is coming in which God will make all things right.

"Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife." (Proverbs 21:9) Houses in ancient Israel often had flat roofs that could be used as sleeping porches in warm weather. Solomon says, "Better you should be relegated to sleeping on the rooftop (year round even!) than to have to share a large house with someone who argues all the time." Solomon is speaking from a man's perspective, so in his proverb it's the woman who does the quarreling, but it could apply to men too. Nobody wants to share a house with someone who always finds fault and who always wants to keep a quarrel going.

"The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them." (Proverbs 21:10) Have you ever known anyone who seemed to do nothing but continually think of more evil deeds to commit? Solomon is saying something like, "Woe to the neighbors of such a man! They are never safe from him. His mind is always churning with wicked schemes." Solomon isn't speaking of someone we might consider an "ordinary sinner", but he's talking about the one who craves evil like he craves food and water. This is not a person who makes mistakes from time to time, as we all do, but a person who remains actively on the lookout for ways to become even more unrighteous. This person rejoices in being ungodly.

"When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge." (Proverbs 21:11) You may have heard the expression, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse". There are people in Solomon's kingdom who may be ignorant of many of the king's laws. This could be because they live far out in the country, or because they are unable to read and write, or because the laws have never been explained to them. So Solomon says, "I have subjects who are uneducated and who live far from town and who rarely interact with anyone from the city where my court is held. They may not know of a particular law, but if they witness punishment being carried out on an offender for breaking that law, they will know not to break it themselves. A wise person will take heed."

"The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin." (Proverbs 21:12) Time and again Solomon has stated his faith that God will work all things out and will punish evildoers. There are people in this world who have literally gotten away with murder, but they can't hide their crimes from God.

"Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered." (Proverbs 21:13) The king wants us to think about this: Why should we expect mercy if we have extended no mercy? The Lord said through the prophet Hosea, "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6) We spoke earlier in the week about the sacrifices God detests, which are the sacrifices of hypocrisy. What use is it to bring offerings to God while breaking His laws? How can we honor Him with our sacrifices if we aren't showing mercy to our fellow man?

"A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath." (Proverbs 21:14) Solomon is not advocating bribery. He has spoken out against it earlier in the book of Proverbs. He's merely stating a fact. This is how the world works. He knows justice is perverted every day by bribes and backroom deals. He hates it, but even a powerful king like Solomon is unable to eradicate this practice because he is unable to change the carnal nature of man. Only the King of kings is able to change the nature of man, to make a new and beautiful creature out of the old corrupt creature. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

"When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers." (Proverbs 21:15) Evildoers think they can keep on getting away with their wickedness forever, so it's quite a shock to them when judgment falls. The righteous rejoice at such times. Their faith is strengthened. They praise the name of the God who sees all deeds and who judges accordingly. Our God is a righteous Judge who cannot be bribed or fooled into rendering a wrong verdict. A day is coming in which He will judge the deeds of every man and woman. The righteous will rejoice on that day. Those who have trusted in Christ will shout for joy, saying, "Our God is faithful! He keeps His promises! He avenges His children! Blessed be His name!"

Monday, August 7, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 70, The Pride, Dishonesty, And Violence Of The Wicked

Today Solomon speaks about several attributes of those who are wicked.

"Haughty eyes and a proud heart---the unplowed field of the wicked---produce sin." (Proverbs 21:4) In Chapter 6 Solomon told us of seven things that the Lord detests, and haughtiness is one of them. "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community." (Proverbs 6:16-19) Haughty eyes and a proud heart are things that will lead us into a great deal of sin, as Solomon says today. Haughtiness is on the same list as the shedding of innocent blood, so we know God takes it very seriously.

"The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty." (Proverbs 21:5) This verse always reminds me of the tale of the tortoise and the hare. The turtle won the race because he plodded along steadily, while the rabbit spent all his energy at the beginning and in his pride and arrogance decided he had time to take a nap before the tortoise caught up with him. The tortoise won the race because the hare miscalculated his opponent. Solomon warns us against taking shortcuts along the way, against being prideful and lazy, and against falling for money-making schemes that sound too good to be true. Get-rich-quick schemes ought to be called get-poor-quick schemes, because that's what they usually are.

"A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare." (Proverbs 21:6) A lying tongue is also on the list of the things the Lord hates. A liar may prosper for a while because this fallen world has a way of rewarding the wicked, but God will not be mocked. As the Apostle Paul warns us, "A man reaps what he sows." (Galatians 6:7b) The dishonest will have to answer to a holy God for their cheating ways.

"The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right." (Proverbs 21:7) Whether or not the wicked receive judgment in this life, we can be assured they will receive it in the next. They may never be brought before an earthly judge, but they will be brought before the heavenly Judge. This "dragging away" may refer to imprisonment or even capital punishment on earth, or it may refer to being relegated to the outer darkness that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 8:12, Matthew 22:13, and Matthew 25:30.

"The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright." (Proverbs 21:8) We spoke last week about what it means to be upright from a spiritual standpoint. It doesn't mean we are perfect but that we are made righteous by faith in the One who is perfect. In the original Hebrew this verse would read more like, "The path of the guilty is crooked". The wicked are on that wide crooked road that leads to destruction. But the innocent are on the straight road, the narrow road, that leads to eternal life. God is displeased with the one who lives his life by devious means, but He is delighted with the one who chooses to live a life of honesty. Honesty will not necessarily earn us riches in this world, for as we said earlier this morning, this fallen world has a way of rewarding wickedness. But honesty will earn us treasures in heaven, treasures that cannot be taken from us, treasures that will last forever. God has seen every time you chose to be honest instead of dishonest. He's aware of every incident when you've said to yourself, "No, I'm not going to do this sinful thing. I'm going to obey the word of God." The fallen world may not place much value on honesty these days, but God does, and He never changes.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 69, The Sacrifice Of Praise

Solomon tells us that we may have hidden sins in our hearts. We study the words of his father David who prayed for forgiveness for known sins and for unknown sins he might have committed. We also look at what God values most: the sacrifice of praise offered up by sincere hearts.

"The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old." (Proverbs 20:29) There are things to rejoice in no matter what our age. The young man rejoices in the strength of his body and in his boundless energy, but the old man rejoices in the wisdom he's learned and the gray hairs he's earned by all the trials he's successfully made it through. God is able to use us for His kingdom at all stages of our lives.

"Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being." (Proverbs 20:30) Solomon believes in law and order. In his day the penalty for certain crimes might be a public beating. Some offenders probably learned their lesson and didn't commit any more crimes, so Solomon feels this punishment is effective in deterring crime. Even if the offender did not repent, his punishment caused others to think twice about breaking the law. Some citizens may not even have been aware a particular thing was against the law, so this was a way to inform one and all what would not be tolerated by the king.

"In the Lord's hand the king's heart is a stream of water that He channels to all who please Him." (Proverbs 21:1) A ruler can be a blessing to the people, if his heart is in the Lord's hand. Solomon didn't always lead a spiritually correct life, but at the beginning of his reign he asked God for the wisdom to rule the people in the right way, and God answered that prayer. So, being led by God, Solomon was able to make proper decisions in the cases that came before him. Through Solomon the Lord was able to channel blessings toward those in Israel who were living spiritually and morally upright lives. Their cases were being heard and their causes were being upheld.

"A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart." (Proverbs 21:2) Sometimes we know for certain we're living in sin. At other times we might not realize we're making a mistake. This is why David said to the Lord, "But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults." (Psalm 19:12) David knew he might be making mistakes without knowing it. His faults might be hidden from him, but they weren't hidden from God, so he prayed for forgiveness for things he might have done wrong without realizing it. If we were to sit down at night and ponder everything we've done during the day, there will probably be a few things that stand out as being contrary to the word of God. Maybe we had ugly thoughts about somebody. Maybe we said some bad words. Maybe we were rude and impatient. Maybe we told a lie. But there are other things we might not be aware of, things we've even forgotten because life is so busy and the days go by so fast. This is why David asked forgiveness for both his known sins and for any sins he might have committed without realizing it.

"To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice." (Proverbs 21:3) One of the sins the nations of Israel and Judah committed was going through the motions of religious life without maintaining any connection to God. Many of the people who were still bringing sacrifices were doing it for all the wrong reasons. They were saying and doing all the right things outwardly, but they had lost their heart for God, which is why the Lord said, "These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me." (Isaiah 29:13a) What use are sacrifices to a God our hearts have rejected? How meaningless it would be to bring an offering for atonement when we aren't really repentant. The sacrifices of Israel and Judah were actually sinful because they were brought in the wrong spirit. They even dared to bring blemished sacrifices to the Lord, which was forbidden. Sick and tired of their false religion, the Lord said, ""Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on My altar! I am not pleased with you,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and I will accept no offering from your hands.'" (Malachi 1:10)

I am reminded of the offerings brought by Cain and Abel. Abel brought a blood offering, an atonement offering, because he was aware of being a frail mortal sinner in need of forgiveness from a righteous God. Cain brought something more like a first fruit offering, which was simply a thank offering and not an acknowledgement of sin. A first fruit offering is meant to honor God for an abundant harvest, but Cain was filled with pride over the work of his own hands. He had a hard and unrepentant heart, so God rejected his offering, saying, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it." (Genesis 4:7) God was not rejecting Cain; He was rejecting an offering brought in the wrong spirit. He knew Cain harbored sin in his heart and He was encouraging him to reject it and rise above it. This could have been an awesome turning point in Cain's life, but instead he gave himself up to the wicked desires of his heart.

The Lord judges us by what's in our hearts. He knows whether or not our praise is sincere. He knows whether or not our offerings are brought willingly. He knows whether we honor Him with our lips while our hearts are far from Him. God finds hypocrisy disgusting, which is made evident by the many times Jesus called out the religious leaders for their hypocrisy. The Lord takes delight in sincere worship. He rejoices far more in a "sacrifice of praise" (Hebrews 13:15) than in all burnt offerings put together. Let's worship Him in sincerity of heart. Let's not ever grow cool toward Him and simply go through the motions. The Christian life is an exciting life, for our Savior lives, and the word of God is living and active. We don't have to live stagnant lives. We don't have to go through the motions while feeling empty inside. Christ offers us abundant lives.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 68. A Secure Throne

"The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one's inmost being." (Proverbs 20:27) Bible scholar James Coffman points out that the word "spirit" literally means "breath" in Hebrew. When God created Adam, He breathed life into him, and that breath of God is like a lamp that searches out all our secret thoughts, whether they are godly or ungodly. King David recognized the ability of the Lord to know his every thought and his every intention, so he said, "You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You, Lord, know it completely." (Psalm 139:1-4)

Isn't it wonderful that the One who knows our every thought loves us anyway? It comforts me that God is familiar with all my ways. He knows me like nobody else knows me and He still loves me. Because He knows me so well, He can help me like no one else can. You may have heard the song "When He Was On The Cross, I Was On His Mind". The lyrics say, "He knew me, yet He loved me". That's the stunning thing about what Christ did for us. There was nothing about us He did not know, but He was still willing to lay down His life on our behalf. He still wanted to spend eternity with us.

"Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure." (Proverbs 20:28) Solomon is speaking from experience, for his own throne was established by the love and faithfulness of the Lord. When Solomon was born the Bible tells us, "The Lord loved him." (2 Samuel 12:24b) And because the Lord loved him, even though David and Bathsheba had named their baby boy Solomon, the Lord gave him a second name: Jedidiah. Jedidiah means "loved by the Lord".

Why did the Lord love him? Well, I think it could be said of every baby born that the Lord loves him or her. But there is also an element of faithfulness in God's love for Solomon as the chosen successor of David's throne, for God promised David, "When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be My son." (2 Samuel 7:12-13) The Lord also made this personal promise to Solomon, "I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, 'You shall never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.'" (1 Kings 9:5) The Lord said that breaking His promise to David would be the same thing as telling a lie, "I will not violate My covenant or alter what My lips have uttered. Once for all, I have sworn by My holiness---and I will not lie to David---that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before Me like the sun; it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky." (Psalm 89:34-37)

To this day there is a successor for the throne of Israel, a King above all kings, because God has kept the solemn vow He made to David. He promised that His own firstborn Son would come from David's line. (Psalm 89:27) Though there is no literal throne in Israel today and no human king upon it, there is a successor. There is a promised Son. There is a royal line that will endure forever. Solomon knew what he was talking about when he said, "Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure." His own throne was secured by the love and faithfulness of God. And the throne of Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, is secured by the love and faithfulness of God. What God has promised, God will do. David will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel because Israel's king, and the Savior of the world, is alive and well. He will someday take charge of all the kingdoms of this world and will reign over them in righteousness forever. As the Lord assures us in Zechariah 14:9, "The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name."

Friday, August 4, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 67, You Only Live Once

Solomon reminds us again to think before we speak, especially when making promises to God. Then he compares the winnowing out of the evil to the threshing of wheat, as John the Baptist later compared it when he prophesied about the One who would separate the wheat from the chaff. We talk today about the one life we all have and how we should live it.

"It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one's vows." (Proverbs 20:25) Solomon made mention of this same type of promise in Ecclesiastes 5:4, "When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow." Probably the easiest time for us to make unwise promises is when we are in trouble, saying, "Lord, if you will only get me out of this, I will do such-and such." David is believed to have been the author of Psalm 66, and he said, "I will come to Your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you---vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble." (Psalm 66:13-14) While he was in trouble David made some promises to the Lord. The Lord delivered him from trouble and David intended to fulfill his promises. We should be careful about making promises we might not be able to keep. We are most in danger of this when we are experiencing extreme emotional highs or lows, so we have to be extra vigilant at those times.

"A wise king winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them." (Proverbs 20:26) Threshing is for the purpose of separating the wheat from the chaff, the useful from the useless. When Solomon became king he asked the Lord for the wisdom to lead His people Israel and the Lord was pleased with his request. Because the Lord answered his prayer, Solomon possessed the wisdom to accurately judge the character of those who came before him in court cases. He was blessed with the discernment to sense whether someone was lying or being truthful, so he compares this process with the threshing of grain in which the parts useful for food are separated from the inedible parts. The Lord also has a day in store when He will winnow out the wicked, for John the Baptist said of Jesus Christ, "His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor, gathering His wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:12)

We only have this one life to live: will we be wheat or will we be chaff? Last night at a church dinner the speaker mentioned the modern expression of "you only live once". From the very first time I heard this expression I couldn't help thinking how stupid it was. "You only live once" is nothing but an excuse for doing whatever we want, for doing whatever feels good, for taking no responsibility and for fearing no consequences. But last night I got to thinking that "you only live once" could be looked at from another perspective. We have this one life, and after that the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) So what are we going to do with it? What are we going to do with it that counts? What are we going to do with it that will cause us to be counted as the valuable wheat that will be gathered into the Lord's barn? We only live once, so what can we do for the Lord's kingdom and how can we lead others to Christ?

We talked earlier this week about decisions we've regretted and I can promise you I've never once regretted making Christ the Lord of my life. I've never had any desire to turn from Him or even to look back, as Lot's wife did, on a sinful past. As Christians we should have the same attitude the Apostle Paul had when he said, "To live is Christ." (Philippians 1:21a) We have this one life and we should live it for the One who gave His life for us. And when this life is over, we can again repeat the words of Paul who said, "To die is gain." (Philippians 1:21b) What if we got up every morning and lived our lives by this creed? To live is Christ and to die is gain. While we live, let's do all we can to honor Him and to lead others to Him. When we die, we will enter into the joy of our Lord forevermore. We will say, "It was worth it all! The Bible really is the word of God. God is real, Christ is real, the Holy Spirit is real. It was all true! And it was all worth it!"

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 66, God Will Avenge Us

Solomon advises us to let God avenge us on our enemies instead of taking revenge for ourselves. He also points out the importance of obeying God even when it isn't convenient or easy. We've all made sinful decisions that we regret, but when did we ever regret doing what God says to do?

"Do not say, 'I'll pay you back for this wrong!' Wait for the Lord, and He will avenge you." (Proverbs 20:22) The Lord makes this promise to His children who have been wronged, "It is Mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them." (Deuteronomy 32:35) The Apostle Paul quotes this same verse from Deuteronomy in Romans 12:19, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord." Why is it God's place to avenge us and not our place to avenge ourselves? I think because it's God's holy laws that have been broken and He is the one who has been offended most of all. It's because His morals for living have been scorned. And I also think it's because this can be said of the child of God, "Whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye." (Zechariah 2:8b)

God is a good Father. He takes note of any harm done to His children and He will not let it go unpunished. In due time and in the right way (often in a brilliant 'poetic justice' sort of way) the Lord will pay back whoever hurts His children. I can confirm the truth of this, having actually witnessed God paying back someone who caused me a great deal of grief for no other reason than their perverse enjoyment. It was stunning how perfectly and poetically God took care of the situation. Having seen the proof of God's promises in action, I can rest assured that my Father is on the job and He will avenge me of anything that needs avenging. I don't have to worry about it; I can leave it all up to Him and go on with my life.

"The Lord detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please Him." (Proverbs 20:23) Several times we've seen Solomon mention shady business practices like this. The Lord is displeased when we cheat and take advantage of others. The Lord Jesus said, "Do to others as you would have them to do you." (Luke 6:31) I doubt any of us would be happy if we found out we had been cheated in a transaction; therefore, let's not cheat our fellow man.

"A person's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?" (Proverbs 20:24) We can make all the plans for our lives that we want, but God has sovereign authority over us and over all creation. He has the right to change our plans. I certainly am glad He changed some of mine, because my plans would have led to disaster. I'd rather be in the will of God, even though obeying Him isn't always easy, than to be out of His will and to make choices I'll regret later. On the Christian radio station yesterday I heard one of the DJs ask, "When was the last time you regretted obeying the Lord?" I thought, "What a powerful question!" I can't recall any time I regretted obeying the Lord. I can recall many times I've regretted not obeying Him. Disobedience is often the easy way out. It's the path of least resistance, but it's also the wide road that leads to destruction. (Matthew 7:13)

Solomon leaves us with two very profound ideas to ponder today. First, God will avenge the one who belongs to Him. We don't have to lift a finger. We don't have to dirty our hands. It's quite difficult for a human being to take vengeance without also falling into sin at the same time. Second, let's think about the last time we regretted obeying God. I can't think of one, can you? But I bet we'd have quite a long list if we started writing down all the times we disobeyed God's word and lived to regret it. So let's just take Him at His word and trust Him. Let's trust Him with vengeance and let's trust Him with planning our lives. Our earthly fathers made plans for us as it seemed best to them with their limited human knowledge, but our heavenly Father makes plans for us according to His perfect and infinite wisdom. He loves us and has our best interests at heart.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 65, Mistakes That Are Avoidable

Today Solomon provides us with a miscellaneous list of foolish mistakes to avoid.

"Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger; hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider." (Proverbs 20:16) Solomon has warned us before to be very careful about who we put up security (or co-sign) for. Now he says, "If a person is foolish enough to co-sign for someone who owes you a debt, make sure you get some collateral. If he's foolish enough to be security for someone he doesn't know, he's foolish enough to make other poor decisions, and this means he could default on what he owes you. Make sure you take something of his to hold as collateral. Not doing so is unwise."

"Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouthful of gravel." (Proverbs 20:17) There are some folks who simply delight in their wickedness. They will take more enjoyment in something they gained dishonestly than by anything they gained honestly. But Solomon says beware, for the food that once tasted so sweet on the tongue will end up being as useless as a mouthful of gravel. It won't nourish the one who gained it by dishonesty. The adulteress in Chapter 9 entices foolish men by saying, "Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!" (Proverbs 9:17) The "stolen water" and "secret bread" of adultery may seem exciting for the moment, but Solomon says, "her guests are deep in the realm of the dead". (Proverbs 9:18b) The things we gain dishonestly will turn around and bite us like a snake, but the things we gain honestly will continue to be a blessing to us.

"Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance." (Proverbs 20:18) Jesus said something similar, "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won't he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?" (Luke 14:31) What both Jesus and Solomon are telling us is not to make poor and hasty decisions. We must seek the advice of experts who know more about the subject than we do. We must carefully consider all the possible outcomes before we take action.

"A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much." (Proverbs 20:19) We've noted time and again how much Solomon dislikes overly chatty people. He says, "Stay away from blabbermouths! Avoid those who are always repeating gossip to you. As soon as they leave your presence they will be talking to someone else about you. Don't ever trust a person like this with confidential matters."

"If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness." (Proverbs 20:20) The law of Moses stated, "Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death." (Exodus 21:17) The Lord Jesus quoted this verse when He accused the religious leaders of being hypocrites. They were using the law to their own advantage, for if they didn't want to support their elderly parents they would just say, "I've devoted this money to God. I put it in the offering plate at the temple and now I don't have any left over to help my parents. They will just have to get by the best way they can." (Matthew 15:3-7) God included the order to honor our mothers and fathers in the ten commandments, so He's pretty serious about it. Solomon is saying something like, "If you refuse to honor one of these most basic and important commandments, you are unlikely to honor the rest of them. You are walking in darkness and will end up spending eternity in darkness."

"An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end." (Proverbs 20:21) The prodigal son is a good example of this. He wanted his inheritance while his father was still living. He wanted to enjoy his inheritance while he was still young enough to live it up and party all night. But he ended up losing everything he had, working for a Gentile pig farmer and being so hungry he coveted the scraps the hogs ate. The prodigal was too immature and too worldly to manage his inheritance. He claimed it too soon and he lost it. We sometimes see this happening in modern times to those who inherit money at a young age or to those who become famous at a young age. They use the money to live it up, to throw parties with $1000 bottles of champagne, to accumulate jewelry and cars, to impress the world with their wealth and extravagance. But fame is fleeting, and so is money when it's used unwisely. The next thing you know we're seeing something in the tabloids about the once-famous music legend or movie star filing for bankruptcy.

If any of the proverbs today are joined together by a single theme, it might be to always stop and think before we speak or before we act. Many a decision has turned out to be foolish because it was made in haste. We have to stop and ask ourselves, "Does this go against God's word? Will it be a sin? What are the possible consequences of this decision? How will it affect me? How will it affect my family? How will it affect my relationship with the Lord?"

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 64, The Love Of Money

Solomon has some things to say about greed today. We take a look at his words about greed and money along with what the Apostle Paul had to say about the love of money.

"Differing weights and differing measures---the Lord detests them both." (Proverbs 20:10) God hates it when we cheat someone. Greed and dishonesty are qualities the Lord can't stand.

"Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright?" (Proverbs 20:11) This verse may go along with Solomon's repeated instructions to train and correct children while there is still time. It's important to begin teaching the right way to live as early as possible.

"Ears that hear and eyes that see---the Lord has made them both." (Proverbs 20:12) Yesterday we talked a bit about the importance of having godly insight. The Lord has endowed us with ears and eyes so that we can make wise judgments about the character of those around us. People will sometimes lie to us, but if we carefully observe the way they live and if we pay attention to the kind of speech that comes out of their mouths, we can decide whether they are trustworthy and truthful or not. In the same way, God both sees the deeds of mankind and hears the words of their lips, and He will judge accordingly. As the author of Psalm 94 asks, "Does He who fashioned the ear not hear? Does He who formed the eye not see?" (Psalm 94:9)

"Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare." (Proverbs 20:13) Solomon has taught on this theme many times. He considers laziness to be a terrible quality. It leads to poverty not only for the one who is lazy but often for the whole family. In Solomon's day the man was the main breadwinner for the household, and if a man was lazy his whole family would suffer. I imagine Solomon saw many wives and children having to do without simply because the man of the house refused to work. Laziness also leads to greed and dishonesty, for the one who doesn't want to work may resort to theft and fraud.

"'It's no good, it's no good!' says the buyer---then goes off and boasts about the purchase." (Proverbs 20:14) An example of this would be putting a used car up for sale only to have a serious buyer show up and start putting the car down in order to make us cut the price. Then the buyer will go out and brag about how he took advantage of us. Several bad qualities are on display in that situation, such as greed, dishonesty, and pride. If someone is asking a fair price for an item, and if we actually want the item, we should be honorable enough to pay a fair price.

"Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel." (Proverbs 20:15) Solomon has plenty of gold and rubies in his possession, but what he really needs is a good friend with godly knowledge. What use is gold when we're depressed? What good are rubies when we feel discouraged and disappointed? Riches may seem important and desirable when everything else in our lives is going pretty well, but when depression hits or when the kids are sick or when a spouse walks away, we immediately see that riches are incapable of fixing such things. That's when we need the comfort of the Lord and the support of our godly friends.

The Apostle Paul warned his young convert Timothy about placing too much importance on wealth. "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:9-10) Verse 9 is often misquoted as, "Money is the root of all evil," but this is not the case. Money is necessary to pay the bills and put food on the table and put clothes on our backs. It's the love of money Paul is talking about, the type of love that makes an idol of money, the type of love that causes a person to do anything (no matter how immoral) in order to get money.

Jesus spoke of this idolatrous love of money when He said, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24) There can only be one master over our lives and, sadly, many have made money their lord and master. They will do anything to serve this master, even if they have to abandon the moral and spiritual instruction they've been taught. As Paul says "some have wandered from the faith" because of money. If we serve the Lord wholeheartedly we can't serve money as an idol.

Solomon knows exactly how meaningless money is when we're so depressed we can hardly go on. He's been there. He suffered a very deep and prolonged bout of clinical depression because he had wandered from the faith, and his money was no use to him in those circumstances. Money can't buy us peace of mind or peace with God. It can't buy us salvation for our souls. Let's let God be God so that money never becomes our master, so that we don't wander from the faith and fall into foolish and harmful desires. God is the source of all that we need, and if He is in His proper place in our lives, money will fall into its proper place.