“The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and each is tested by the praise accorded him.” – Proverbs 27:21 (NASB)
Praise is enjoyable often sought after as a means to shape bolster our self-image and confirm that we have what we desire from others. It is a part of our natural man to desire acclimation and approval from others. Some seek it diligently and strategically and others take it as it comes and do not live for it. No matter, we each find it very difficult to perform before others without doing the self-evaluation on “how we did.” We want to be found worthwhile, capable and proficient to do our assigned tasks. We do not attain excellence every time and sometimes we flop miserably. With our proverb today is another with a similar lesson. Proverbs 27:19; “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man.” Not only do we seek affirmation from our peers and the congregations but we seek it from ourselves. Our hearts reflect what we are. Looking for acceptance and even celebrity status is like spending too much time in front of a mirror fretting over our appearance. The looking glass will only return what we really are just as our heart reveal our true motivations.
“Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice.” – Proverbs 21: 2-3 (NASB)
GOALSETTING – This is something most people do or are encouraged to do as a step to success in any endeavor they undertake. Of course the goals we set are good goals, right goals and we plan for them to help us reach even more goals. This is what our verse is talking about. We each plan our lives, our careers, our families, our vacations with the hope that the outcome will be beneficial and make our lives rewarding. We each believe our plans are the right plans to have. But. But what? But the Lord God is the one who knows our hearts and our motivations. He sees all that is down the road of our life. So it is the judgment of God whether our goals and plans are right and good, isn’t it? What our verse says here is also found in Micah 6:3 and that is where we find out what is good from the Lord. Justice, kindness and humility is what God wants us to consider as we plan our ways and set our goals. This is how we glorify God which is our main goal. Right?
“Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand. What is desirable in a man is his kindness, And it is better to be a poor man than a liar. The fear of the Lord leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.” – Proverbs 19:21-23 (NASB)
In the beginning God and man were as one. But ever since the fall, man’s devices and God’s counsel are at opposition. There is no doubt which will triumps. “There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord. My counsel shall stand, and so I will do all my will.” (Proverbs 21:30) The privilege of doing good is within the reach of all. For when the poor fails, the desire of a man is his kindness, as acceptable as the most expensive proof of love. Such a desire is far better in the sight of God, in the heart of one of his poor people, than a man with large opportunities and hollow professions, who proves himself to be a liar. The poor gives readily. The rich cannot afford for he denies that he has the ability though he promises, he does nothing. With the grace of the gospel, we cultivate awesome respect. Threefold fruit is the promise set before us—life, satisfaction, security. It leads to life—not the mere natural life, common to the unbeliever—but a heavenly—an eternal life, in the favor and enjoyment of God.
“My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” – Proverbs 7:1-3 (ESV)
It would be perhaps helpful to understand the phrase “apple of your eye” in its most basic form. This expression refers to the pupil of the eye which, because it is the source of sight, is carefully protected. Deuteronomy 32:10, a portion of the Song of Moses regarding God’s care of His people, “He guarded Him as the pupil of His eye.” David writes Psalm 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” These are promises of how critically important it is that God watches over us. In today’s selected Prover, the son is to guard and protect his father’s teachings because they give him spiritual and moral sight. Binding them on our fingers and writing them on the tablet of our hearts is a a call to give the truth of divine wisdom a permanent place in our mind and in our conduct. That, we keep God’s Word always in sight, and always ready for the present moment.
“My son, observe the commandment of your father And do not forsake the teaching of your mother; Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you.” – Proverbs 6:20-22 (NASB)
There are a number of ways that God instructs us to live using these proverbs of Solomon. This is how we listen to His word and respond to what we learn. First, it is clear the importance God places on family and on the chain of responsibility that exists in an established family. God never intended young people to be independent of their parents. Instruction from every sector is valuable. But from parents it is authoritative—the ordinance of God. Therefore, we are not to consider it a matter of occasional regard. “Bind them continually on your heart,” is allowing them to rule our lives and guide the way we live. Plus “around your neck,”as an adorning; making them a part of daily life so that others may know what we believe. The same was instructed in Proverbs. 3:3 and Job’s declaration in Job 31:36 regarding his integrity, “Surely I would carry it on my shoulder, I would bind it to myself like a crown.” Day and night, God’s wisdom is revealed to us in his word and should be more than momentary, it should be known by all who know us.
“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart.” Job 22:21-22 (ESV)
The story of Job in the Bible is not one many really know very well. We might know of Job’s trials, losses and why. We might even have a clue about three friends who fail to understand and so missed the mark when trying to offer help. Instead of comfort counselors they were accusers. But in all that is said to Job, there are many interesting and valuable bits of advice. Eliphaz, the third and at first silent friend, is at first courteous, but in chapter 22 his frustration rises. Again, the fate of the wicked is expressed in the simplistic idea that all suffering comes from sin. Eliphaz did not believe Job was innocent and so painted a picture of the life of blessing in store for Job if only he would return to God and repent of his sin (v. 23). Out of this bit of acidic advice from his “friend” there is a truth. In order to properly “agree with God, and be at peace,” we must know Him as He has revealed Himself. In order to know God, God must know us as His own. That is how we truly know peace from Him.
“Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24 (ESV)
When the prophet Samuel was leading the people of Israel, he had reason, on several occasions to encourage them to stay true to God. Today, we find in our verse a wonderful motivation for serving the Lord God faithfully. Saul had just been made King of Israel. It was so easy for them to forget God’s blessings. It was true, they sometimes forgot how good God had been to them and they would go their own way. In much the same way we who profess to follow Jesus will forget what He has done for us and are influenced by the world to forsake the path God has made for us. We need to take time each day to remember and think about of what great things God has done for us. Let’s not think that we’ve done everything for ourselves. We know that God has been good to us to make us a part of His family. And in so many different ways, He has demonstrated His goodness in taking care of us. Remembering such things and keeping them in the top of our minds will help us to serve God faithfully and with all our heart.
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)
We have in this passage a warning, advice, and blessing all part of the promise that is in our selected verse. The author King Solomon is teaching his son the importance of heart care. These verses and promises are good for all and a father or mother would do well to teach them to their daughters as well. Many verses from the book of Proverbs stand alone. That is not the case with today’s verse. Verse 23 is best understood in the context of verses 20-27. The words of wisdom are important enough to not let them out of our sight. In fact they should be hidden in our heart. They bring us life and health. Our heart needs guarding for out of it’s a wellspring of how we live. The word “heart” means more than mental or emotional capacity; it also incorporates one’s values. The “heart” may commonly refer to our mind as the center of thinking and reason, but also includes our emotions, our will, and our whole inner being. The heart is the depository of all wisdom and the source of whatever affects speech (v. 24), sight (v. 25), and conduct (vv. 26, 27).
“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. – Psalm 9:1 (ESV)
In the crush of our overly-commercialized world, it does not take long for the spirit of Thanksgiving to fade. Our attention turns to other intentions and desires. We’ve mentioned previously, every day is a good day to give our expressions of thanks to God. We can make every day a day of thanksgiving. When we take the time to consider what God has done for us and for all who need salvation, we have much to be thankful for. Today’s verse is from Psalm 9 and reminds us that true thanks that is pleasing to the Lord comes from within ourselves. It comes from our heart and our whole heart should be involved. We can express thanksgiving with our lips. If we are not focused on God, we can really say the words without our hearts being involved. Today the verse reminds us that true thanks to the Lord requires all our heart. Let’s do so today as you gather with family or friends or if you are by yourself, you can still give thanks to the Lord with all your heart. He knows you and He is with you today so be thankful for that blessing and promise.
“Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.” – Psalm 119:11 (NASB)
Today’s verse affirms the value of internalizing the Word to defend against encroaching sin. We might ask how do we internalize God’s word? The Authorized version renders the verse; “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” There is a blessing to absorbing the Word of God because it is the truth and given to us as a guide to God’s will. (Psalm 37:21) God’s Word teaches us and shows us the path He wants us to walk on and when we do, receive abundant blessings. Knowing what is God’s will from His Word keeps our feet steady and guards us from slipping when we might (Psalm 73:2). How do we hide God’s Word in our heart? Well, remember that in Scripture the word ‘heart’ was used for the mind. Memorizations of God’s Word is how we hide and treasure it. Don’t we already know about treasures? Another version renders this as “stored up your word.” We store up what we treasure for future use. Perhaps this verse is a good one to commit to memory right now? It can only help us to do so.