Proverbs 14-15

I Did It My Way!

“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” ­– Proverbs 14:12 NLT

There is a way that seems right to a man. There are choices in life that seem to make all the sense in the world – at the time. Each day we are faced with options to go one way or another. And as Christians, we have the choice to live our lives God’s way or our own. We can wisely follow His directions or foolishly choose to listen to our own counsel. And so often, our way seems like the right one. Everything seems to indicate that if we do what we want to do, it will all turn out for the best. But Solomon warns us that nothing could be farther from the truth. All throughout the Proverbs, he has been contrasting wisdom and folly. He has been showing us the difference between living a life according to God’s terms or our own. The fool is that individual who has determined that his way is best. He rejects direction and despises discipline. He never seeks counsel, or if he does, he ignores it and listens to his own advice. But living our lives apart from the wisdom of God never turns out well. That way is never the right way. No matter how good it may look or profitable it may appear to be. Yet just think how often we choose our way over God’s. For most of us it’s a daily occurance. It could be something as simple as what we watch on TV. Do we stop and consider whether or not the show we are about to watch is something God would find redeeming and profitable for promoting righteousness in our lives? No, we watch it because we think it’s entertaining. It will make us laugh. It will distract us from the cares of the day. It brings us pleasure. So it MUST be good. Our way seems right to us. Maybe it’s the choice to sit and watch 2-3 hours of sports on TV after a hard day at the office, rather than interact with our wife or children. Do we check with God? Do we ask Him what would be best? Or do we go with our own will in the matter, determining that we deserve a break. We give and give all day long, now it’s our turn to kick back and relax.

From our choices in friends to the way we dress, how we use our time to the way we treat others, if we’re not careful, we could end up living our lives our way and choosing the wrong way. And Solomon says that way does not end well. According to Solomon, the wise person seeks counsel, asks for wisdom, considers his steps carefully, deliberates before he decides, considers the will of God and tries to follow it. This doesn’t mean that the foolish person is miserable and never enjoys life. No, when they live life on their own terms, they actually seem to benefit from their choices. Solomon even admits it. “Foolishness brings joy to those who have no sense…” But then he reminds us that in spite of this, “a sensible person stays on the right path” (Proverbs 15:21 NLT). The wise person doesn’t look at the short-term gain, but the long-term rewards. In the end, the life of the fool is a dangerous pursuit. It ends in death and destruction. The life of the wise or the righteous ends in life. It reminds me of the Israelites wandering through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. All throughout that journey, they wanted to stop, turn around, go home, or basically, live life on their own terms. They complained about everything. They were driven by their desires and gave in to them. They were looking for short-term fixes and quick solutions. But God was attempting to lead them to a place of promise. He had something far greater in store for them. He wanted to bless them, but they kept coming up with ways that seemed right to them. But as Solomon warns, their way was going to lead to destruction. Their lack of fear for God and refusal to follow His leading would end up in their deaths in the wilderness. When they arrived at the boundaries of the Promised Land, they refused to go in because they didn’t trust God to deliver them from the people who occupied the land. They feared and chose to go with their own way instead of God’s. And every one of them would spend the next 40 years wandering in the wilderness, dying off one at a time, never seeing the land that God had promised.

Could you be missing out on the promises of God? Could your stubborn will be standing in the way of God’s blessings for your life? Choose wisely and choose well. Listen to His voice and choose His path. You won’t be disappointed. “The path of the wise leads to life above…” (Proverbs 15:24 NLT).

Father, forgive me for choosing my own way so often. I am so prone to go with the quick fix, the solution that seems to offer the most immediate benefits, rather than trusting You for what is best for my life. I have so many of the characteristics of the fool in my life. But I want to live the life of the wise. I want righteousness to characterize my life. Give me the strength to seek Your path and stay on it – for the long haul. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 13

Godliness Pays.

“Godliness helps people all through life…” ­– Proverbs 13:6 NLT

To a certain degree, we have bought into the idea that the life of godliness is costly. That the kind of discipline that is necessary for us to live a godly life can require extreme sacrifice. And all that is true. But if we’re not careful we can end up viewing the godly life as a one-side affair. We can find ourselves viewing it is as all “give” and no “get.” Oh sure, we get eternal life in the end, but in the mean time we just have to give up all our favorite habits and vices, we have to give up all our dreams and die to our desires. We have to give God all our time, money and talents. It can all end up sounding and feeling so lopsided, as if it’s an investment with no real return for our money. Kind of like buying life insurance. You keep paying the premiums, but you never really get to enjoy the benefits of your investment.

But the truth is, while godliness can be costly, it is far from stingy in terms of its payback. The Proverbs remind us over and over again that those who choose to live godly lives find themselves greatly rewarded – in this life, not just the one to come. As we have seen before, the godly, or those who seek to live righteous lives receive wisdom, discernment, fruitfulness, protection, provision, direction, and so much more. They have a resource and reservoir of power available to them that others know nothing about. It’s kind of like insider trading – but fully legal. God makes available His wisdom. He gives complete access to His power. He lets us tap into His vast bank of limitless resources. They are complete at our disposal, 24-7, 365. God is like a bank that never closes, and His assets never run out.

Godliness really does pay. Sure, it may cost us a little time to seek to know God by reading His Word. It may require a little sacrifice as we give up some of the trinkets and trash this world offers in order to give all our time and attention to Him. But God gives a great return on our investment. He makes it worth our while. There is the old adage, “You can’t out-give God.” That is so true. There is nothing He might require of me that is more costly than what He has already given me. He gave me the life of His own Son in my place on the cross. He sacrificed that which was most precious to Him in order that I might have life – abundant life – not just in heaven, but right here on earth. He has given me His Holy Spirit as a constant companion. He has given me His inheritance – undeserved and without limits. This all reminds me of the old hymn I grew up singing in my father’s church on Long Island: “He Giveth More Grace.” Read the lyrics, then reconsider just how much a life of godliness pays.

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials he multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Father, You just keep giving. And while I may complain sometimes about how hard this life of godliness seems to be, the truth is, I get back far more than I give. I have already received more than I deserve and far more than I could ever repay. The wisdom, understanding, discernment, peace, provision, and protection I get is simply icing on the cake. If You never gave me anything more than the salvation I have already received, it would be more than enough. But as the song says, You giveth, and giveth, and giveth again. Thank You. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 11-12

The Righteous Vs the Wicked.

“In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.” ­– Proverbs 12:28 NIV

In a later Proverb Solomon says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV). In another one of his Proverbs, he tells us, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Proverbs 4:18 NIV). Along the same lines, the prophet Isaiah said, “The way of the righteous is level, the path of the righteous that You make is straight” (Isaiah 26:7 NIV). There is a path that each of us must take. Actually, there are two paths. One leads to disappointment, destruction and ultimately, death. The other leads to blessing and life. And it’s not just the final destination these paths lead to that is important. It’s the journey itself. The path so often referred to in the Old Testament carries with it the idea of a journey or way. It often refers to a manner of life. The manner in which one conducts his life. It is the day-to-day act of living out our lives as we follow the path before us. Throughout these two Proverbs Solomon contrasts the “way” of the righteous and the “way” of the wicked. He compares and contrasts them, using simple illustrations to set apart these two approaches to life. Solomon gives us unmistakable characteristics of each, easily recognized in daily life. The righteous are characterized by honesty, integrity, discretion, diligence, compassion, humility, trustworthiness, and generosity. The wicked are selfish, self-centered, deceptive, lazy, prideful, arrogant, unfaithful, hateful, cruel, lacking in discretion, corrupt, and foolish.

The promises offered to those who choose the way of righteousness are many. And they aren’t just waiting out there somewhere in the future. Solomon talks of blessings to be had in this life for those who choose to walk the way that God has established. His way is the way of righteousness or right living. It is the way that leads to joy and fulfillment, blessing and abundance, peace and prosperity. But this is where we have to be careful. Solomon is not saying and God is not promising that His way is all health, wealth, and prosperity. He is offering us so much more than money and material things. He is promising so much more than just a long life free from sickness. He is offering an antidote for anxiety, a rest in the midst of the pressures of life, a peace right in the middle of chaos, a joy in spite of sorrow. God is offering us direction when we find ourselves lost, comfort when we find ourselves sad, community when we feel like we are all alone, rescue when we find ourselves in trouble. God is offering us a relationship. He is offering to light the path on which we walk and give us companionship for the journey. He is not just telling where we need to go, He is walking alongside us the entire way, teaching us, encouraging us, providing for us, and protecting us. It reminds me of the journey the Israelites took through the wilderness. God was with them every step of the way. He led them. He fed them. He protected them. He provided for them. He talked to them. He gave them rules to live by. He did miracles for them. He revealed Himself to them. Yes, they were headed to the Promised Land, but a big part of God’s plan for them was the journey on which they found themselves. He could have easily transported them right to the land of Canaan the minute He delivered them out of Egypt. But He had another plan. He had a journey in store for them. They were going to learn just who God was as they walked with Him day by day. They were going to see His power on display. They were going to learn about His holiness and hatred of sin. They were going to see His deliverance first-hand. This was their opportunity to see their God at work in their lives – each and every day. But many of them chose to take the path of the wicked. They wanted to return to Egypt. They complained. They whined. They refused to listen to God. They let their desires rule their decisions. They gave in to their urges. And they sinned. The result was death. They turned their backs on God’s way and chose their own. And the results were devastating and deadly.

What about us? What path are we choosing? Even as believers who are walking the path that God has established for us, we can choose to turn around or take detour. We can refuse to follow His path and take our own. And before we know it, we find ourselves in the high weeds. Oh sure, it may go well for a while. We may find ourselves living the high life and enjoying all the pleasures we were seeking, but that path will never get us where we really need to go. The way of the righteous is God’s way. It is a narrow way. It is not the popular way. But it is the only way that leads to life. I love the way The Message paraphrases the words of Jesus: “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life–to God!–is vigorous and requires total attention” (Matthew 7:13-14 MSG).

Father, Your way is best. But sometimes it is so tempting to take another way, to follow another path. But keep me on the path of righteousness. Help me to see You as I walk each and every day. I know that there will be difficult days, but that is where I can see Your power on display and Your compassion first-hand. Walking Your path requires trust and faith. It requires diligence and determination. But You make the journey well worth the effort. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 10

The Folly of Fools.

“Doing wrong is fun for a fool, while wise conduct is a pleasure to the wise.” ­– Proverbs 10:23 NLT

“I pity the fool…!” Those are the memorable words of “Clubber” Lang, the character played by Mr. T in the film classic, Rocky III. Okay, so I’m being a tad bit sarcastic. Any movie that features Mr. T in a starring role is destined for a life in the discount bins at the video rental store. But the line itself is a classic. And I think Solomon himself would have thoroughly agreed with it. In fact, Solomon did pity the fool and spent a great deal of time and energy addressing this particular individual. What he had to say about the fool was far from flattering, but it was driven by a concern for his well-being. It seems that Solomon understood that each and every one of us comes into this world a full-blow, card-carrying fool. The problem is, many of us never grow out of it. Our children, like us, are born fools. They lack wisdom, insight, understanding, and knowledge. So we spend countless hours trying to fill them with all four. And according to Solomon, we have our work cut out for us. Listen to how he describes the average fool:

… a foolish child brings grief to a mother – Vs 1

… babbling fools fall flat on their faces – Vs 8

… fools will be punished with a rod – Vs 13

… the babbling of a fool invites trouble – Vs 14

… to slander is to be a fool – Vs 18

… the heart of a fool is worthless – Vs 20

… fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense – Vs 21

… Doing wrong is fun for a fool – Vs 23

Fools are directly associated with the wicked, the evil and the lazy. The Proverbs tell us that the person who denies, ignores, or neglects God is not only acting foolishly, but is characterized by a kind of godlessness. They act as if God does not exist – even while claiming to believe in Him. The fool has certain unmistakable characteristics:

He is thoughtless: not applying his thoughts about God; not thinking through the truth about God

He is dull: not being sharp in his thoughts about God. He is being sleepy-minded, slow, and sluggish toward God.

He is senseless: not using good common sense about God. He is acting contrary to good common sense. He is deficient in his thoughts about God.

He is without understanding: he does not grasp or comprehend God; he does not have the right ideas or thoughts about God.

He is ignorant of God: he does not know God. He has not learned God – has not looked at, thought about, studied, nor met, walked and fellowshipped with God.

He is unwise: he is acting contrary to wisdom; he is acting dangerously and foolishly.

But how do you know if you are a fool? How do we recognize the characteristics of a fool in the lives of our children, friends, work associates? Here are a few probing questions that might give us some insight. If the answers to any of these is “Yes,” then they may be pointing to someone who is exhibiting fool-like symptoms. Go ahead, take the test yourself. And remember, if you score high, the solution is to seek wisdom. And you can find it right in the Word of God.

1.  Do you feel like your life is characterized more by righteousness or unrighteousness?

2.  Do you feel your life has been characterized by wisdom or a lack of wisdom?

3.  Do you feel you are realistic…about yourself?…about business?…about life?…about relationships?

4.  Do you consider yourself as highly disciplined or undisciplined?

5.  Do you have a temper?

6.  How does your temper manifest itself?

7.  Are you reliable…in your work?…with your words?

8.  Are you teachable?

9.  Do you struggle with any sexual sins?

10.  Would you say you are truthful?

11.  Do you tend to repeat past mistakes?

Father, sometimes we laugh at the foolishness we see around us. Rather than pity the fool, we smile about their behavior. Give us a desire to see our children move from foolishness to wisdom. Help us to recognize the characteristics of foolishness in our own lives, then come to You for wisdom. Father, foolishness is no laughing matter to You. Give us the same soberness of mind so that we might take it seriously and deal with it soberly. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 8-9

Wise Enough To Know Better.

“All who fear the LORD will hate evil. That is why I hate pride, arrogance, corruption, and perverted speech.” ­– Proverbs 8:13 NLT

Do you hate what God hates? Do the things that cause Him to become angry stir you up as well? Solomon says that the wisdom that God offers us causes us to despise the things that God despises. As we gain wisdom from God, it provides us with insight and discernment, and diminishes the foolishness and gullibility that plagues most of mankind. We end up seeing more clearly the truth about God’s plan and the lies of the enemy. We begin to understand that our own pride, arrogance and self-absorption are actually evil. Our constant focus on us is wrong. It keeps us from loving God because we are too busy loving ourselves. Only wisdom gives us the ability to see that. Without the wisdom of God, we are blinded to the destructive nature of our own pride, instead thinking that our self-interest is some kind of self-preservation. Wisdom helps us see the truth. It shows us that the way of evil is the wrong way. The New Living Translation renders this phrase into a single word, “corruption.” But in the Hebrew is it actually two words and they can be translated “the evil way,” “the wrong way of life,” “evil behavior,” or “a life marked by wrong choices.” Wisdom helps us learn to despise the kind of life that the world offers up as normal. We are able to see that what the world tries to convince us of as good and acceptable behavior is actually wrong and destructive. It leads to no good. It offers up pleasure, but delivers misery. It sounds and looks so good, but in the end only disappoints. Wisdom alone can help us see this. Otherwise we end up buying the lie and experiencing the pain and suffering that comes from a life marked by wrong choices. Wisdom says, “those who miss me have injured themselves” (Proverbs 8:36 NLT).

Wisdom also gives us a healthy hatred for “perverted speech.” The word rendered “perverted” here comes from another Hebrew word that conveys the idea of twisted or turned around. It is convoluted, backwards, confusing, saying what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right. It is not just referring to inappropriate speech or using bad words. This has more to do with words that confuse the truth and cause us to go against the Word of God. They allows us to justify our behavior and rationalize our actions. The prophet Isaiah described it this way, “Destruction is certain for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark; that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter” (Isaiah 5:20 NLT). The Psalmist put it this way, “You love evil more than good, you call black white” (Psalm 52:3 MSG). Wisdom gives us the ability to see the twisted words and upside down thinking that pervades our culture, bombarding us with lies from the radio and TV, through music, movies and the media. We learn to discern that it is really twisting the truth of God and rejecting His way for another one. And we learn to hate it.

Wisdom hates all these things, because wisdom is of God. As we grow closer in our relationship to God, we see what He sees, we hate what He hates, we see truth more clearly with each passing day. The wisdom God offers cries out to me. It pleads with me to “Leave your foolish ways behind, and begin to live; learn how to be wise” (Proverbs 9:6 NLT). It’s calling to you too. Do you hear it?

Father, I want to really live. I want to see with Your eyes, hear with Your ears, understand with Your mind. Give me Your wisdom Father. Help me to seek it like a lost treasure, to value it more than anything else in the world. I know that it is available to me if I search for it in Your Word. You will not just hand it to me. I must pursue it. Give me the determination and discipline to do so. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 7

The Complexities of Simplemindedness.

“I was looking out the window of my house one day and saw a simpleminded young man who lacked common sense.” ­– Proverbs 7:6-7 NLT

The character described in this Proverb is a familiar one. We can all think of someone just like him. Naive and simple, unaware of the danger that lurks around him, highly gullible and easily tempted to give in to the temptations of life. He’s like the character you watch in a movie that is about to open a door, behind which lurks certain death, but he is oblivious that any danger exists. You want to scream at the TV, warning him to run. You wonder how he could be so unaware of what is really going on, when you see it so clearly.

But if the truth were known, there are times in every day where we take on the same characteristics. We become simpleminded. Open-minded. Naive. Gullible. The word used by Solomon to describe this young man is from a root word that means “spacious, open, wide.” You might say it means “empty-headed” – someone lacking in sense, or to use a more up-to-date term, an airhead. He is easily enticed into danger, because he is oblivious to the danger surrounding him. He lacks the discernment to see that what looks so tempting and enticing is really deadly. Like a fish drawn to a tempting lure, this young man is drawn to the seductive appeal of a woman. She paints a highly attractive picture of the pleasure he can have if he will only give in to her message. Everything sounds so attractive. She appeals to his senses. She takes advantage of his unbridled sexual drive. She calls to his base, animal instincts. She is an expert at what she does. She knows exactly how to get to this young man. But her offer is all pleasure with no pain. Like Satan, she only presents the promise of satisfaction and enjoyment. She fails to give the young man the bad news. But Solomon knows the other side to this story. “He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter or like a trapped stag, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life” (Proverbs 7:22-23 NLT). This was not going to turn out well. Sin seldom does. The lies of the enemy never deliver what they promise. They disappoint and destroy. They damage lives, reputations, and relationships. They leave behind a wake of regrets, guilt, and shame. They harden the heart and soften the resolve of men so that it becomes increasingly harder to say no the next time.

So Solomon calls out. He cries out. He warns this young man and generations of other men to come, that this danger is a reality. It is out there for all of us. We face it every day of our lives. And it is so easy to approach life in the same simpleminded manner. We reject the warnings of Scripture. We ignore the reality of an enemy who is out to destroy us. We think we can handle the temptations of life on our own. We listen to the seductive calls of the enemy and the world, hearing only what we want to hear – the tempting offers of pleasure with no pain, satisfaction at no cost. And in the end, we pay the price. Simplemindedness is costly and wisdom is the cure. The wisdom that God offers through His Word. Discernment comes from one source – God. And He makes it available to each and every one of us through the pages of the Bible.

Father, drive me to Your Word so that I am not so easily driven by my desires. Give me discernment so that I am not so easily susceptible to the temptations of life. Help me reject the life of the simpleminded and live the life of the wise. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 5-6

Lessons Learned the Hard Way.

“How I hated discipline! If only I had not demanded my own way!” ­– Proverbs 5:12 NLT

They say hindsight is 20-20. There is something powerful about the ability to look back at our mistakes and learn from them. Those lessons can be extremely clear in retrospect. As we look back on decisions we have made and see the trail of consequences, we tend to learn valuable lessons. We see our mistakes with greater clarity than we did living them out in real time. In the heat of the moment, we thought our decisions made sense. They felt right at the moment we made them. Our plan sounded so good. We just knew that everything was going to turn out well. Then given enough time, distance and pain, we discover the reality of blunder. “How I hated discipline! If only I had not demanded my own way!” It’s in looking back that we see just how stubborn we had been. We refused to do things God’s way, and instead determined that our way was better. We demanded to follow our own counsel and rejected God’s. And the results were less than perfect.

So Solomon warns his son, and us, to learn from his mistakes. He begs us to listen to his counsel and not go through the same painful lessons. Yet those of us who have kids know that our children have this unique ability to refuse our advice. What we say seems to go in one ear and out the other. They roll their eyes and shake their heads, patiently putting up with our sage wisdom, but rejecting it in the end as antiquated, illogical, and out-of-touch with reality. They determine that they know better. They don’t need our advice. And so they refuse to listen to our counsel, making their own decisions, living life on their own terms. And they learn the hard way.

As I read these Proverbs again, I can’t help but hear the voice of God calling to me, begging me to listen to Him, to heed His counsel. He wants me to seek His wisdom and to pursue His understanding like a priceless treasure. But I refuse to listen. Like a stubborn teenager, I convince myself that I know best. My way is better than God’s. And it is only in hindsight that I learn the folly of my ways. God patiently and lovingly allows me to reject His will for my own. He lets me learn from my mistakes. And as I grow older, the lessons finally begin to sink in. I start to learn that obedience is a lot less painful. Doing it His way really does work better. Learning doesn’t have to hurt! God’s way is the best way. I can trust Him on that.

Father, thank You for all the times You have patiently allowed me to do things my way. You have let me make my decisions and reap the results. But You have always been there to pick me up and set me back on my feet. You have never walked away from me in disgust, but have continue to patiently love me and instruct me, waiting for me to wake up and realize that Your way really is the best way. May I grow increasingly more aware of the truth of that reality. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 4

Wisdom at any Cost!

“Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.” ­– Proverbs 4:5 NASB

What kinds of things do we spend our money on? Movies and music, the latest electronic gadgets, lattes and lunches, golf clubs and hunting rifles, handbags and hairstyling – the list goes on and on. The bottom line for most of us is if we want something bad enough, we figure out a way to get our hands on it. Even if it means going in debt to do it. Which makes the verse above so interesting. Here Solomon tells his son to acquire wisdom and understanding. That word can actually be translated “buy” or “purchase.” It seems to carry the thought, “to possess at any cost.” He is telling his son, and us, to make it our mission to get our hands on wisdom and understanding. They are both that valuable. He’s not saying, “Son, you have got to have the latest iPhone or iPad.” He is not telling his son to “acquire stock” in some Fortune 500 company. He is not telling him to spend his hard-earned money on good, reliable  transportation. No, he is pleading with his son to make it his mission in life to possess these two priceless commodities: wisdom and understanding.

But how do we obtain these two qualities or attributes. By using the term “acquire,” Solomon is indicating that they will cost us something. There is a price involved. Both are only available from one source: God. And they do not come cheap. As Solomon tells us elsewhere, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10 NASB). So both of these valuable commodities begin and end with God. He is the source and the seller. Which means I have to deal with Him if I want to get my hands on them. The price? A healthy fear of God and a growing knowledge or understanding of Him. I grow in my fear of God as I spend time with Him. And my fear changes from a simple-minded dread based on ignorance to a multifaceted awe and reverence based on a growing knowledge of just how holy, powerful, and majestic God really is. But I don’t acquire this understanding easily. The wisdom that God offers doesn’t come cheap. It requires that I spend countless hours pursuing a relationship with Him. As I do, I will find myself wiser and more understanding. And the side benefits are pretty significant as well: God’s provision and protection, guidance in the way of righteousness, life, health, and integrity. So it pays to purchase wisdom and understanding. It makes good fiscal sense to acquire them both. But to do so, I will have to make them a priority in my life. I will have to want them bad enough to spend what it takes to get them. I will need to give God my time, my undivided attention, my affection and devotion, my obedience and trust, and ultimately, my life. But it will be well worth the cost. Solomon put it this way: “The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.” (Proverbs 4:18 NLT).

Father, I spend my time, money, and resources on a lot of things. And none of them can deliver what they promise, let alone what it is I really need. Which is wisdom and understanding. Only You can provide those two things and they do not come cheaply. They come from time spent with You. They are only available through effort spent in seeking an intimate relationship with You. You are the key to both. Never let me forget that. There is no other way. There is no discount for acquiring wisdom and understanding. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 2-3

Then you will…

“Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time.” ­– Proverbs 2:9 NLT

Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD…

Then you will what is right, just, and fair…

Then you will know how to find the right course of action every time…

Then you will find favor with both God and people…

Then you will gain a good reputation…

Then you will gain renewed health and vitality…

Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with the finest wine…

There are some pretty significant promises in these two chapters, and they are all linked to our pursuit of and desire for wisdom. But not just any wisdom – the wisdom of God. Only God can grant it. So it would only make sense that we seek it from Him through His Word. The promises when we do are staggering. They sound almost too good to be true – much like the advertising claims for a new product or service. But these promises are far from empty. They are the commitments of a faithful God to His children. When we seek His wisdom, His will, and His way, we are blessed beyond belief. He will guard and guide us. He will protect and provide for us. He will help and heal us. He will give us an increasing awareness of His greatness and a growing appreciation for His kindness. The wisdom of God is essential to life in this fallen world and it is ours for the asking. He freely gives it to all those who seek it. But we must desire it enough to pursue it. We must need it enough to obey it. We must recognize its worth and rely on its direction. But where do we find this wisdom? On the pages of Scripture. In the words of the prophets, apostles, poets, and from the lips of Jesus Himself. To read God’s Word is to hear from God Himself. He has filled the pages of the Bible with His revealed will and matchless character. He shows us His power, might, mercy, grace, love, holiness, righteousness, justice, and faithfulness – over and over again. He gives us a glimpse of His expectations as well as His exhortations. He speaks to us, encourages us, admonishes us, directs us, convicts us, comforts us, and reminds us of His unfailing love and unending mercy. All we need we find in His Word. So why don’t we spend more time in it? Why don’t we obey it? Why aren’t we more passionate about it? The enemy, the flesh, and the world. They all three conspire to draw us away from the wisdom of God and attempt to replace it with a hollow alternative. The Proverbs are a call for us to remember where true wisdom comes from – from the lips of God Himself. Seek it and then you will …

Father, everything I need I can find in You. Your wisdom is sufficient to meet every need that comes my way. Yet I seek so many other things than You. I listen to so many other voices than Yours. Give me an increasing desire to hear Your Word and to obey it. May I grow in my ability to discern right from wrong as I grow in my knowledge of Your Word and Your will. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 1

Killed By Complacency.

“That is why they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way. They must experience the full terror of the path they have chosen. For they are simpletons who turn away from me — to death. They are fools, and their own complacency will destroy them.” ­– Proverbs 1:31-32 NLT

We’re all familiar with the verse in this proverb that says, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7 NLT). But it goes on and reminds us, “Only fools despise wisdom and discipline.” It seems clear when reading this proverb and virtually every other one, that to live without a fear of God is to reject the wisdom He offers through His Word. It is to live the life of a fool. I used to think the fool was some poor soul whose elevator didn’t go all the way to the top floor, who was a few bricks short of a full load. He was the guy who just couldn’t help doing foolish things. In most cases, I thought the fool was describing the typical non-believer. He was lost and without God in his life, so he ended up doing foolish things. But the more I read and studied Proverbs, the more convinced I became that the fool can just as easily be describing the typical believer. Essentially, a fool is someone who lives his life as if there is no God. I can believe in God and still live as if He doesn’t exist. I can act in ways that are contrary to His commands and do so with a belief that He doesn’t see what I am doing. I can say things that are offensive to His ears, but do so as if I believe He doesn’t hear me. To live as if God doesn’t see me or hear me is to live the life of a fool. To ignore His teaching, reject His discipline, or to fail to seek His counsel is to live like a fool.

You can have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and still eat the bitter fruit of living your own way. You can choose to ignore what Christ taught. You can decide to live your life according to your own terms. You can neglect the reading of your Bible and miss out on hearing from God, and end up experiencing the full terror of the path you have chosen. Solomon puts it this way: “Their own complacency will destroy them.” That word translated “complacency” is rich in meaning. Positively, it can mean quietness, ease, or prosperity. But in this context, Solomon seems to be using its more negative meaning, which refers to a smugness, self-sufficiency, complacency or even careless security that can take over our lives when we think we have everything we need without God. In his commentary on Proverbs, C. H. Toy describes it as a “repose gained by ignoring or neglecting the serious responsibilities of life.” Our complacency as Christians can end up killing us. It can lull us into a dangerous sense of well-being. We can get so satisfied with our lives as they are, that we end up neglecting God’s Word. We spend little or no time in it. And if we don’t read  God’s Word it is impossible to hear from the one who wrote it. And if we don’t hear from Him, how are we supposed to obey Him? Our self-sufficiency ends up being self-destructive.

I reminds me of what God had to say to the church in Laodicea in the book of Revelation. “You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy gold from me — gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. And also buy white garments so you will not be shamed by your nakedness. And buy ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference” (Revelation 3:17-19 NLT). Indifference. Complacency. Self-sufficiency. Smugness. They are all characteristics of the fool. That individual who has decided that he has no need of God’s wisdom as revealed in His Word, no awareness of God’s constant presence, no desire to hear what God may think of his plans, and no concept that his self-sufficiency is actually destroying him. “…they are simpletons who turn away from me — to death. They are fools, and their own complacency will destroy them” (Proverbs 1:32 NLT).

Father, I have lived the life of the fool so often it’s embarrassing. I have rejected or even ignored Your Word altogether. I have acted as if You don’t even exist. I have become satisfied with my life as it was and unwilling to make the changes You have lovingly suggested. I have become complacent, smug, and self-sufficient far too often. Yet I know that Your wisdom is worth pursuing. It is more valuable than anything else I can pursue in life. Give me an increasing desire to seek Your wisdom. May Your Word become increasingly more satisfying to me. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men