Proverbs 31c

Rare, But Worth Looking For.

“Who can find a wife of noble character? For her value is far more than rubies.” – Proverbs 31:10 NET

As a father of two sons, I have certain affinity with this verse. Both of my sons are unmarried at the moment. One is yet too young to even be considering it, but the other is in the prime age for finding a wife. Yet I am in no rush to see him get married. This verse is part of the reason. Having had to counsel far more struggling marriages than I would care to count, I know how difficult it can be to find the “right” person to spend the rest of your life with. I also know my son well enough to know that he is going to bring certain baggage of his own to the relationship. He has much spiritual maturing to do before he is ready to consider the considerable challenge of marriage. But King Lemuel poses a wonderful question when he asks, “Who can find a wife of noble character?” He compares the search for such a woman to looking for a ruby. She is rare and extremely valuable, and well worth the search and the wait.

Proverbs 31 then goes on to list the kinds of qualities this woman might have. It is an extensive and impressive list. She is trustworthy, faithful, hardworking, industrious, diligent, entrepreneurial, energetic, strong, caring, compassionate, wise, and godly. She is an excellent wife and mother, friend and neighbor. She fears God and loves her family. But what’s interesting is that King Lemuel spends no time describing her looks. All he says is that “charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last” (Proverbs 31:30 NLT). But as a man, I know how important charm and beauty are to both my sons, because they were important to me. I was first attracted to my wife because of her looks, then I quickly discovered her charm. But it took time before I realized what was beneath the surface. I was fortunate to discover that she was also a “woman who fears the Lord” (Proverbs 31:30 NLT). One of my greatest prayers and desires is that my sons find a woman like their mother. She exhibits so many of the qualities listed in this Proverb. But the one that has come to mean the most to me is that she fears the Lord. She has a love, respect, awe, and reverence for God, and a steadily growing dependence on Him. She answers to God. She is committed to living for God. She is learning to rest in God. And I want my sons to find a woman like that. There are many beautiful, charming women in the world, but who can find a woman of noble character? Those kind of women are few and far between. They are rare and priceless. They are limited to those who have given their lives to Christ and who are willing to allow Him to so radically change their hearts that they become priceless treasures in His hands. They are the ones who have allowed God transform their lives in such a way that their inner beauty far surpasses their physical looks. What makes them attractive is who God has made them to be – on the inside. That kind of woman will greatly enrich any man’s life. He will find she is well worth waiting for. He will learn that she is of extreme value and deserves a husband who is also a man of noble, moral, upright character. His character will match hers. His love for and fear of God will mirror hers. Those kinds of individuals are few and far between. Those kinds of marriages are as well. But they’re worth praying and waiting for.

Father, thank You for blessing my life with the kind of woman described in this passage. No, she is not perfect, but she is a blessing to my life because she has chosen to make You her highest priority. I pray that You will help my sons to search for and wait for the same kind of woman to come into their lives. And may they continue to prepare themselves to be godly men who will honor, love and lead their wives and families as You have called them to do. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 30c

What Would You Ask of God?

“O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.” – Proverbs 30:7-8 NLT

We all love the story of the magic genie, that mythical individual who, when released from his entrapment in a bottle, promises to give his liberator three wishes. He offers them anything they want and vows to fulfill even their wildest wish. While we know it’s just a story and will never happen, it has never stopped a single one of us from imagining what it would be like. All of us have spent time thinking about what it is we would wish for. We have dreamed of having three wishes and what it would be like to have them fulfilled. And if we’re honest, we probably have to admit that our wishes probably didn’t include world peace, personal contentment, or blessings on all our enemies. No, we were most likely focused on things like good old-fashioned fame and fortune.

But what if you could ask God for anything. What would you request? While I am not suggesting that God is some kind of cosmic genie, who exists to fulfill your wildest dreams, King Agur, the writer of today’s Proverb, gives us some pause for thought when he begs God for two favors. It makes you stop and think what two favors you might ask from God if you ever got up the nerve to do it. I find it fascinating that the first thing he requests is that he might never tell a lie. He begs God to keep him from lying. Why? Most likely because he struggled with it every day of his life and knew that he had no capacity to stop – on his own. As a king, he knew the danger that lying could have on his leadership ability. It could undermine the trust of his people if they found out he was lying. He also knew the constant reality that those who surrounded him and provided him with counsel could be lying at any time. Agur knew the danger of lying and so he asked God to remove it from his life.

The second favor Agur asks of God is that he might have just enough to satisfy his basic needs. Rather than ask for riches, he asks for just enough to get by. Again, a fascinating choice for a wish or request from God. Why would he beg this favor from God? Well, he tells us himself. “For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name” (Proverbs 30:9 NLT). Agur knows himself far too well. He understand enough about himself and human nature to know that riches would ruin him. Wealth would make him self-sufficient and self-reliant, rather than God-dependent. He is fully aware of the nature of his own heart and recognizes that asking God for riches would be counter-productive and harmful to his relationship with God. He also knows that poverty would result in self-sufficiency and self-reliance as well. Rather than resting and relying on God, he would attempt to remedy his poverty through stealing. Once again, Agur knows the danger that lurks in his own heart. The two extremes of poverty and riches would bring out the worst in him. So he begs God to give him just enough to satisfy his needs. Not too little and not too much.

I think you have to keep these verses in the context of the rest of the chapter. Agur starts out chapter 30 expressing his weariness and weakness to God. He admits his lack of common sense and wisdom. He confesses that he doesn’t fully know and understand God. Yet he knows enough to understand that God is all-powerful and unmatched in wisdom, glory and greatness. He is righteous and always right. And He protects those who come to Him. So that is what Agur does. He comes to God and he requests from Him what he cannot provide for himself. He is sick of lying. He is tired of dealing with a heart that can’t be trusted. He is fearful of how he might respond to either poverty or riches. So he asks God for help. Agur knew himself well, and was wise enough to know where to turn for help.

What would you ask from God? Do you know yourself well enough to know what your real needs really are? Agur was well acquainted with his own weaknesses and willing to turn to God for help. Oh, that we might learn to do the same thing.

Father, I ask You for a lot of things. But what I really need is the capacity to see my heart as You do. Give me the capacity to recognize my own needs from Your vantage point and not from my own selfish, sin-prone perspective. Help me to know my heart and realize that only You can help transform it. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 29b

World Gone Wild.

“When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.” – Proverbs 29:18 NLT

Take a look around you. The world has gone wild. It has cast off the restraints imposed on it by God by rejecting His Word and His will and refusing to acknowledge Him as God. There are few, if any, restraints to public morality any more. Everything is acceptable, tolerable and normal in society. In the New International Version, this verse reads, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.” The idea is that there is no longer any word from God from the lips of the prophets of God. They are no longer speaking because God is no longer talking. Without God’s divine guidance and righteous rules for living, the people literally, “let loose.” They throw caution to the wind and embrace anything and everything as morally acceptable. The mantra, “If it feels good, do it” becomes the rule of the day. Everyone becomes motivated by their own pleasures and desires. Whether God’s restraining hand gets removed or the people simply reject it, the outcome is always the same. There will be unchecked, unrestrained immorality and rebellion against God. They will run wild.

But there is another side to this proverb. It says, “But whoever obeys the law is joyful.” Those who choose to listen to the Word of God and obey it, will find joy. Rather than restrictive, they will find the Word of God restorative and rest-producing. Throughout the Word of God we are given clear indications of what God expects from His people. He does not save us, then allow us to live according to our own standards or some arbitrary set of guidelines set by the majority of our peers. No, God has righteous and holy standards which are designed to guide His people in their daily interactions with Him and with one another. Unlike during the days of the Jews, who were required to try and keep God’s law in order to live righteous lives, as believers we do not obey God’s Word out of some sense of earning favor or brownie points with God. Our righteousness is not based on the effectiveness of our obedience, but on what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross. We obey because we have been redeemed. We gladly keep God’s law because we love the One who gave it. We obey because we know how much He loves us and wants what is best for us. That is what produces joy.

If we choose to disobey, which we all do at times, we “run wild.” We end up casting off the loving restraints put there by God and choose to live according to our own selfish, self-satisfying standards. We do what is right in our own eyes, not God’s. We become driven by our passions, rather than God’s Word. But God has called us to a life of obedience. He has set His divine rules over the world, not as some kind of cosmic kill-joy, but because He knows what is best. His standards are righteous and right. His rules have a restraining and restorative quality to them. They bring peace and joy. But when they’re ignored, the people run wild.

Father, may we learn to be a people who cherishes Your Word and obeys it. May we recognize the joy found in Your divine standards. We see the world running wild because they have cast off all restraints and rejected Your Word. May we as Your people remain a restraining and restorative factor in society because we value and cherish Your commands. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 26c

Be Wary of Words.

“Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty blaze covers a clay pot.” – Proverbs 26:23 NLT

It is amazing how much the Book of Proverbs has to say about the topic of what comes out of our mouths. From flattery to lying, gossip to arguing, and rumors to wise words, there are countless passages dealing with the topic of the tongue. Much of the time it is warning us about watching what we say. It is challenging us to keep a close eye on our tongue and the words that we speak. But as in the case of today’s verse, it also warns us to be wary of the words others speak to us. It is amazing just how susceptible we all are to the words of others. As human beings, we can be so desperate for praise that we become easy prey for those who have less-than-righteous objectives. That is why flattery and false praise can be so dangerous and we can so easily taken in by it all.

Solomon warns us to look beyond the words themselves to the heart of the one speaking. Words can be used to hide true motives, disguise intent, and distract the hearer by telling them what they want to hear. Like colorful glaze used to cover a drab clay pot, smooth-sounding words may be just a cover up to dress up what’s really there. Solomon gives us an everyday life example. “People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they’re deceiving you” (Proverbs 26:24 NLT). These kind of people know full well what they’re doing. They’re hiding from you what is really in their hearts and attempting to make you think that all is well. This can happen between a husband and wife, a parent and child, two friends or two fellow believers. “They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them,” Solomon warns (Proverbs 26:25 NLT). The real danger is that because we can be so susceptible to smooth words, we can actually soak in what they’re saying like a dry sponge. We so want to hear words of praise and flattery, that we can fail to consider the source or think about the intent. Solomon makes it clear that he is talking about those who have wicked hearts that are filled with evil. He is warning us against people who have a reputation for hatred and wrongdoing. And yet, we can find ourselves actually buying into their lies because we so want to hear what they have to say to us. We can be so desirous of kind words, that we will take them from just about any source. But Solomon warns, “Don’t believe them!” They’re lying. They don’t believe what they’re saying and you shouldn’t either. Consider the source. Think carefully about the heart of the one praising you. “A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering words cause ruin” (Proverbs 26:28 NLT). Do not allow your need for praise to numb you to the truth. Don’t listen to the Siren’s call.

In Greek mythology, the Sirens were portrayed as dangerous and devious creatures, who usually took the form of beautiful women in distress and lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices. Casting caution to the wind and falling prey to the flattering cry of the Sirens, these seasoned sailors would steer their ships directly into the rocks along the coastline, resulting in their own death. Remember, “They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils” (Proverbs 26:25 NLT). The wisdom of God gives discernment. It opens our eyes to the truth. Without it, we will listen to the smooth words and deceived by the glossy veneer. To our own detriment.

Father, words are powerful. They can lull us into a sense of stupor and self-satisfaction. We are all so easily deceived by the words of others. Give us the wisdom to hear what is really being said. May our desire for You be greater than our desire for flattery and false praise. May we find our worth in You so we are less prone to seek our worth in the words of others. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 25c

Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

“Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound.” – Proverbs 25:20 NLT

I love this verse. There’s something a bit sarcastic and humorous about it that just brings a smile to my face. I think a big part of what I like about it is that it is so true. When we’re down or going through a difficult time, there’s nothing worse than that person who walks into the room with a big smile on their face and a mission to motivate us like a cheerleader with a set of pom-poms. There are times when silence is golden and saying nothing really is the best policy. There is nothing wrong with a little positive motivation, but timing is so important, and empathy is even more critical. It is difficult to receive the upbeat cheers of an individual who you believe has no clue what you’re going through. And if we’re honest, many of us can be guilty of trying to cheer someone up before we even understand why they’re down to begin with.

Think about the analogy used in this verse. Singing cheerful songs to a despondent person is like taking their coat away from them on a cold winter’s day. It is robbing them of the one thing in which they are finding comfort and consolation. Trying to motivate someone into a sense of joy when they are going through difficulty is callously robbing them of their only source of comfort at that moment. They are down for a reason, and sometimes there is a sense in which our despondency is a source of solace to us. Singing happy songs does not make the problem go away, no more than taking away someone’s coat on a winter’s day makes the cold go away. They are wearing a coat for a reason. It’s cold. They have a heavy heart for a reason. Do we take the time to find out what that reason is? To not do so is like pouring vinegar in a wound. It will burn and sting, but prove to be of no value. There is no medicinal value in vinegar. It is not healing or helpful, only painful.

So what’s the point? I think Solomon is telling us that we need to be sensitive to the needs of those to whom we are attempting to minister. Take the time to discover the source of their pain and heartache, don’t just try to alleviate it. Taking their coat doesn’t get rid of the cold. Getting them to sing happy songs doesn’t get rid of their sorrow. Empathy requires time and effort. We have to slow down long enough to understand what is going on. Sometimes we just need to stop singing and start listening. Stop cheering and begin hearing what they have to say. There is a time when words of cheer are appropriate. “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy to the body” (Proverbs 16:24 NLT). “Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket” (Proverbs 25:11 NLT). “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up” (Proverbs 12:25 NLT). Timing really is everything. Understanding and empathy are everything else. Think before you cheer.

Father, give me a sensitive heart and a compassion for those around me. Don’t let me be a cheerleader, but a true friend who will be there in times of difficulty to comfort, encourage and care. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 24d

Captain Obvious.

“If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.” – Proverbs 24:10 NLT

At first reading, this particular proverbs seems ridiculously obvious. You almost wonder why in the world something so simple got included in this book that is supposed to be a compendium of wisdom sayings. After all, it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that if you fail under pressure, your strength was too small. That’s a no-brainer. But I think Solomon has a different point he is trying to make and the proverb has a much more important message to convey. We all know that we are going to fail, become feint, grow weak, and succumb to the pressures of life. It is inevitable. We are going to face situations and circumstances that try our souls and test our strength, and there will be times when we fail under the pressure. And when those times come, they will reveal that our strength alone is not enough.

The entire Book of Proverbs is ultimately about God. It is about the wisdom, power, and sovereignty of God. It reminds us that He is the source of all that we need, from wisdom, understanding, knowledge, common sense and discernment to protection, provision and guidance. He is also to be our source of strength. God never intended for us to live this life in our own strength. He is fully aware that there will be times when our strength grows feint and our sufficiency will prove insufficient for the task. He knows there will be times when the pressure will prove too great and our strength too small. But rather than become defeated, He desires that we come to Him. He longs for us to turn to Him for strength. To run to Him for refuge. But there is also a certain strength that we gain from having spent time with Him. Just a few verses earlier, Solomon writes, “The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger” (Proverbs 24:5 NLT). The wise are those who have had the wisdom of God instilled in their hearts. They have been equipped by God with knowledge and understanding. They have the capacity to know right from wrong, and the right paths to take in life. They have a strength that is far greater than mere physical stamina or power. It is an inner strength, a determination and drive that allows them to endure the seemingly unendurable and not only survive, but thrive. Rather than fail under pressure, they prosper, because they have learned to rely on a strength outside of themselves. They have discovered the reality that the power of God is far superior than their own strength on their best day. When we fail or falter in times of trouble, it should remind us that we are relying on a strength that is insufficient for the task. It should reveal to us that we have an inadequate power supply. And it should drive us back to the Source.

Father, the fact that I faint should not surprise me. But I should be a bit embarrassed when it happens because I have Your power available to me at all times. My faltering under times of pressure is just a wake up call that I have been living in my own strength, and not Yours. May those times grow increasingly fewer and farther between. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 23c

The True Joy of Parenting.

“The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise. So give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy..” – Proverbs 23:24-25 NLT

Having been blessed with six wonderful children, Julie and I can say from experience that parenting is filled with all kinds of joy. We have experienced so much laughter and shared so many memories. And we continue to do so, even as they each grow older and move out from under our wings. Our children have made us laugh and smile. They have brought us so much happiness over the last 30-plus years that it seems that the time has literally flown by. But the older I get, the more I realize that the greatest joy any child can bring their parent is to turn out well. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, we want to see our children succeed in life. We want to see them as mature, healthy, whole adults. But as a parent who loves Christ, I know that the standard for success is not up to me. It has little to do with degree plans, career paths, car models or the neighborhood my child ends up living in. No, I know that the measure of success has much more to do with the heart, and it directly tied to their relationship with God. As a 57-year-old father of six, I am far less interested that my children make a lot of money, live in beautiful homes, or make six-figure incomes. While the world may say that is the measure of success, I have seen far too many individuals who have all that and more, live miserable, unhappy lives. They have achieved worldly success and missed out on what was truly important. Which is why Solomon says, “The father of godly children has cause for joy” (Proverbs 23:24a NLT). That man has a reason to rejoice. His children have turned out well. They have chosen to seek after and serve God. And as a result, they are wise. Solomon qualifies what a godly child looks like. “What a pleasure to have children who are wise” (Proverbs 23:24b NLT). You see, godliness and wisdom go hand in hand, because wisdom is a gift from God. Over in Proverbs 2, Solomon makes it clear, “For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest” (Proverbs 2:6-6 NLT). A wise child is one who has sought God. He has recognized that true wisdom is only available from one place, God. He has learned to make the pursuit of godly wisdom his highest priority. And he learned it from watching his own parents. He has grown up in a home where his parents sought the wisdom of God on a daily basis and lived it out in their daily lives. It was a full-time pastime for them. And it resulted in wisdom. Because as they sought the wisdom of God FROM God, He placed it directly into their hearts. “For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy” (Proverbs 2:10 NLT). God places His wisdom into our hearts and gives us the capacity to live wisely. We end up making wise, godly choices. We parent more wisely. We model marriage in front of our kids more wisely. We reveal a dependency on God that shows our children that this life is only lived in His strength and according to His terms, not ours.

As a parent, I long to see each of my children living wise, godly lives. While I want them to enjoy financial success, I know that it cannot bring them joy. No career will ever really fulfill them. No spouse will ever make them truly happy. If they lack the wisdom of God that allows them to see life through His eyes. So like Solomon, I plead with my children, “give me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following my ways” (Proverbs 23:26 NLT). But even as I type those words, I shudder, because it makes me realize how dangerous it is to invite your own children to follow YOUR ways. If they do as you do, will they end up wise? If they follow your example, will they become godly? Parenting is a great privilege and it carries tremendous responsibility. As the old saying goes, when it comes to raising children, “More is caught than taught.” They are constantly watching us, evaluating us, and copying our behavior. My wife has a favorite saying she has used over the years, and it is usually directed at me when my behavior has been less than appropriate in front of our children. She simple says, “What parents do in moderation, children do to excess.” In other words, those little acts of selfishness, indiscretion, inappropriateness, and ungodliness are lived out in the lives of our kids, but usually with a certain lack of discernment. They take it to the next level. They model our actions and end up living unwise, ungodly lives. So if I want to be the father of godly children, I must be a godly father. If I want to have wise children, I must pursue the wisdom of God and live it out in my home. Children are a blessing. Godly children are a joy. But they don’t just happen. It takes a constant pursuit of and dependence upon God.

Father, I so want to see my children living wise and godly lives as adults. I want them completely reliant upon You for all that they do. I have made a lot of mistakes over the years. I have not always modeled godliness well. But thank You for Your grace and forgiveness. Help me to use the time I have left to model the life of wisdom and godliness well, because we are never really done parenting. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 22b

The Secret To Success.

“True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.” – Proverbs 22:4 NLT

Does this verse contain the secret to success? Yes, but we tend to put the focus on the wrong end of the verse. We look at the words, “riches, honor, and long life” and stop there. We assume that because we are Christians, we have the first part of the verse down and so we should automatically receive the “promises” it offers. We then define what riches, honor and long life should look like according to our plans. But the real point of this verse is contained in the description, “true humility and the fear of the Lord.” Those two things are critical and non-negotiable to any blessings beings received from God. They describe the life of the person who has a right relationship with God. They reveal the heart of the individual who loves God and shows Him the proper awe, reverence and fear He deserves as the Almighty God of the Universe. The humility is based on an understanding of who God is. In the face of God’s power, majesty, magnitude, intelligence, holiness, and complete righteousness, this person responds with an awareness of their own sinfulness, weakness, unfaithfulness, powerlessness, need, and unrighteousness. That awareness produces dependence. It results in a growing reliance on God for ALL things, including not only salvation, but daily sanctification. It drives out self-righteousness and any thought that we somehow deserve the blessings of God. Humility is our response to God’s majesty and glory. It is a “true” humility, not some kind of false self-abasement to impress others. It is real and the result of a growing awareness of just how great God really is.

Humility goes hand-in-hand with the fear of God. Over in Proverbs 9:10, Solomon reminds us that “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.” When we learn to fear God, we grow in wisdom. We begin to realize just how much we need Him and all that He offers. We need His help in order to live the life He has called us to live on this fallen planet. We need His wisdom to navigate all the issues that face us each and every day. We need discernment, knowledge, discretion, and good old common sense – all of which come directly from God. What Solomon is telling us in today’s verse is that any degree of riches, honor and long life will come only as we learn to humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God. They will only come about if we learn to fear Him, honor Him, worship Him and show Him the awe He so rightly deserves. But if we begin to worship riches, honor and long life, we miss the point. We can easily make idols out of the blessings and miss the One who alone can provide them. That is NOT the fear of God. We can find ourselves expecting God to give us happy homes, great jobs, good incomes, solid marriages, successful careers, obedient kids, and a host of other blessings. The problem is that many of us know nothing of true humility and the fear of God. We almost demand that He bless us, like the prodigal son demanding his inheritance from his father. No love, no respect, no honor, no fear. Back in Proverbs 9, Solomon tells us that the fear of God is the foundation of wisdom. In other words, it is the starting point, the very beginning of our quest for wisdom. It begins with the fear of God. So not until we fear God will we receive the wisdom we need that can help us succeed in life, marriage, parenting, work, and every other area of our lives. Proverbs 22:4 is not some kind of magic mantra that guarantees success. It is a reminder that the fear of the Lord is what should be the singular focus of our lives. Don’t obsess over the gifts, focus on the Giver. Make Him your highest priority. Make getting to know Him more important than getting things from Him. Then You will have true success.

Father, continue to teach me what it means to fear You. Don’t let me shy away from that concept just because I find it difficult to understand and unattractive to my sensibilities. The fear of You is the key to receiving wisdom from You. And without Your wisdom, there is no way that I will ever find true spiritual success in this world. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 19c

Some Things Are Best Left to God.

“Fathers can give their sons an inheritance of houses and wealth, but only the Lord can give an understanding wife.” – Proverbs 19:14 NLT

As a father, I feel a real pressure to be the provider for my family. I have a strong work ethic and have had instilled inside me the determination to work hard so that I can take care of the needs of my wife and kids. I haven’t always done it well or consistently, and I may not provide at the same level as other men do, but I have never failed to put food on the table or clothes on their backs. Even in times of job loss or financial difficulty, I have inherently known that I have a God-given responsibility to be the bread-winner for my family. I am not leaving God out of the equation, because I am fully aware that it is He who provides for all of our needs. And when times have been tough, I have never failed to turn to Him for help. But I know that God wants me to work hard. He wants me to use my talents and abilities wisely. He wants me to work diligently and faithfully. God gets glory when we put in an honest day’s work. So there is nothing inherently wrong in having a healthy sense of responsibility about our need to provide.

But it can get out of whack if I allow myself to think that I can provide EVERYTHING my family needs. I have to constantly remind myself that I am limited in my capacity to provide. I can’t provide my children with salvation. I can’t provide my wife with contentment. I can’t provide my home with peace. I can try to create the right kind of atmosphere where those things can prosper and find a home, but I can’t provide them. Only God can do that. And Solomon reminds me that while I can provide an inheritance for my children made up of homes and financial assets, I can’t provide a single one of them with a godly mate. I can’t give my sons understanding wives or my daughters compassionate husbands. I have to leave that up to God. And to be honest, that scares me, because it leaves some pretty important things out of my control! What could be more important, life-changing, and potentially life-damaging than for one of your kids to marry the wrong kind of person? It happens all the time and we have all watched the painful results. It produces homes filled with unhappiness, unfulfilled dreams, disappointment, pain, heartache, and all kinds of mental, emotional and, sometimes, physical abuse. But God is reminding us that there are just some things we can’t control or contribute. I have to trust God. I have to remind myself that so much of what I DO provide is of little value in comparison to what God makes possible. We all know that beautiful homes and lots of money are no consolation in a marriage where love and understanding are missing. Money may buy a bit of happiness, but it can’t produce joy.

I think if you take this verse in the context of the Book of Proverbs, you will see that it is a subtle reminder that we need to plead with our kids and point our kids toward God – who is the only source of the wisdom, understanding, knowledge, common sense, discernment and good judgment that they will need to live well in this life. Because while God CAN give an understanding wife, unless your son has the discernment and good judgment to recognize the value of an understanding wife, he may just as easily reject that woman when she shows up in his life. God makes all kinds of good gifts and gracious treasures available to us each and every day, but it is due to our lack of godly wisdom that we walk right past them. We are too foolish to recognize the gifts of God right in front of our noses. So I believe Solomon is reminding us as dads (and moms) that there are some things we can’t provide for our children. We will have to trust God for those things. But we also need to prepare the hearts of our children to receive the wisdom of God so that they can accept the good gifts He has for them in the future. Which is why Solomon constantly reminds his sons to listen to his commands and instructions. He pleads with them to “Keep their words always in your heart” (Proverbs 6:20), “write them deep within your heart” (Proverbs 7:3), “let them penetrate deep into your heart” (Proverbs 4:21). It is the wisdom of God within the hearts of our children that will help them recognize and receive the good things God has in store for them – such as an understanding wife and a godly husband.

Father, never let me forget that You are the ultimate and only provider for myself and my family. I need to point them to YOU as their provider, not me. I need to challenge them to accept Your wisdom into their hearts, not settle for my petty provisions. Nothing I can give them will last. But all that You provide is eternal and secure. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Proverbs 18c

Heart Smart.

“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” – Proverbs 18:15 ESV

We’ve all heard of hearth healthy living, but what about heart smart? The Book of Proverbs puts a lot of emphasis on the heart. In fact, in chapter four we’re warned, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT). In the Hebrew way of thinking, the heart is the central part of our very being. It is the core of our existence. It refers to our inner man, and includes our mind, will, heart, and understanding. It encompasses our moral character and is the seat of our appetites, emotions and passions. So the heart is a huge part of who we are. Which is why Solomon warns us to guard it. And the prophet Jeremiah warns us that “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT) That word, “deceitful” can mean twisted, sly, slippery and insidious. It is NOT to be trusted. Left to its own devices, the human heart is a dangerous thing. Unless it has been “educated” by God. Which is why Solomon also encourages us to make the acquisition of God’s wisdom our highest priority. We’re to search for it like silver. We’re to cry out for it, tune our ears to it, and concentrate on getting it. But when we get the wisdom of God, He doesn’t place it in our heads. No, God puts it in our hearts – in our inner man. “For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy, wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe” (Proverbs 2:10-11 NLT). God places His wisdom inside us. He makes our deceitful hearts trustworthy and true. He equips us with the tools we need to make wise choices, to “understand what is right, just and fair” (Proverbs 2:9 NLT). We “will find the right way to go” (Proverbs 2:9b NLT). God makes our hearts wise. And wise hearts are extremely beneficial and helpful. “The wise in heart accept commands” (Proverbs 10:8a NIV). “The one who is wise in heart is called discerning” (Proverbs 16:21a NIV). A child with a wise heart will cause his parents to rejoice (Proverbs 23:15). A heart with a high God-IQ will guard us, guide us, and has the capacity to save us from making wrong choices and will keep us on the path that God has for us. And when we’re heart smart, we’re always willing to learn. We crave knowledge about who God is and who we are. We love to learn about our faults and gain insights into our deficiencies. Knowledge of our sins allows us to acknowledge them to God. We’re able to stay confessed up and enjoy complete forgiveness from God. The smart heart is a listening, learning heart. It depends on God as its source of wisdom, and relies on Him to equip us with knowledge and understanding of His ways. We gain common sense and learn how to apply the truth of God to the realities of life. The smart heart is malleable and in a constant state of transformation at the hands of God.

“In Proverbs, wise people guard their hearts, not only keeping harmful influences out but, more important, by putting wise teaching in and keeping them there.” – Paul E. Koptak, The NIV Application Commentary, Proverbs

“He that has true wisdom in the inward part; who knows his heart and the haughtiness of it; who has the fear of God in it, which is the beginning of wisdom; who is wise unto salvation…who has not head knowledge and wisdom only, but heart knowledge and wisdom, and behave wisely in his life and conversation,…such a man is called, reckoned, accounted, and spoken well of, as a prudent man among all wise and knowing persons.” – Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible


Father, I want to be wise of heart, not just wise of head. I want Your wisdom to permeate my entire being so that I live according to Your standards and in keeping with Your will at all times. I want to be educated of heart so that I know what is right, just and fair; and inherently know the right way to go. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men