How God Measures a Woman’s Beauty

shutterstock_590088500.jpgProverbs 31

10A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29″Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


The book of Proverbs ends with an epilogue to the wife of noble character. This ancient epilogue cuts through our modern culture of vanity to the heart of TRUE beauty.

Based on our current culture, what do you think society would place as the top 5 traits that make somebody beautiful? Odds are that most, if not all, of those traits are external and fleeting with time and age.

Compare that now with the description given in Proverbs. Character, fidelity, ethic, dignity, and respect for God. These traits are internal and increase with time and age.

Thought for Today: Of these two very different lists, which one are you using to measure beauty? Who do you know who exemplifies the Proverbs list? The instruction in verses 30 & 31 is clear. Honor her. Take a moment today to encourage and praise her for her TRUE beauty.

Today’s Prayer: Father, thank you for helping us to see what you see. Help my heart to focus on true beauty and to follow the example of your word. Amen.

Do You Want to Hear From God?

shutterstock_451094635.jpgProverbs 30:5-6

5Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

6Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.


God’s word is all sufficient. It is not missing anything. It is a shield that protects us, a force that transforms us and a foundation that upholds us, but it doesn’t require additional truth from you or me. The word of God stands firm and complete on its own.

In the New Testament, in the book of Hebrews, the writer says this: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV). God has revealed himself to us through His word, which is alive and working in our lives. God’s word cuts through the noise of our outer bodies and penetrates deep into our hearts, even our souls. We are changed and renewed as he ministers to us through his revealed word.

God’s word is surgical and it accomplishes what God wants it to do. God says in the book of Isaiah, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11, ESV). Every word of God proves true and it does not return void.

Even more amazing than that, Jesus is referred to as the “word” in the Gospel of John: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3, ESV).

Did you catch that? Nothing was made without Jesus. He is the source, He is the author, He is the creator. There is no one like Him and there will never be anyone greater. You, me and everything we know finds its beginning in Jesus.

Do you want to hear from God?

Jesus is speaking to us through his word. The Bible is not a stale book of wise sayings. It is a living, breathing, work of art pouring out from the mouth of our creator. In your life, God’s words will always prove true and you will always be blessed when you hear what God has to say. Are you listening?

Today’s Prayer: Father, thank you for speaking to us. Thank you that your word is living and active in my life. Speak to me, Lord. Draw my heart to love the scriptures. Fill me with a desire to know what your word says. Transform me and renew my mind as I seek to hear from you.

How to Make Better Life Choices

shutterstock_568622650.jpgProverbs 29:1-3

1He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
    will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
2When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
    but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
3He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
    but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.


As a parent, we manage a very real tension. On one hand, we need to discipline and correct our kids. On the other hand, we need to avoid breaking their spirit.

A wise mentor once challenged my wife and I to have the perspective that we were not raising kids; we were raising adults. This simple thought helped to shape our entire perspective on parenting.
We were not perfect (no parent is). However, as we look at our adult children, we see them benefiting from this parenting perspective and thriving in their adult lives.
Today’s passage focuses on a key concept that we would all do well to acknowledge: We all need people in our lives who will correct us and challenge us to look at how we are living. I was challenged by a different mentor to find mentors who will speak into my life with a perspective that I need, and who also have a decent capacity to make me frustrated (and even angry) when they challenge my current thinking.
The point was to see my responsibility to own my decisions and to invite people into my life that will help me make better decisions.
Verse 3 in this passage brings up a very interesting perspective: My decisions have the power to either bring joy to those who have invested into my life, or to bring pain. My decisions never affect only me. I am challenged to see my decisions as an investment opportunity. I have been resourced by the lives of those who have invested in me.
Decisions that I make that are healthy and wise bring a return on their investment in my life. In the same way, poor decisions that I make fail to bring a return on that investment.
About 6 years ago, a personal mentor spoke some very powerful, and at the same time, painful words into my life. When I walked away from that meeting I had two options. I could either receive the challenge and correction or continue on the path I was on.
What my mentor challenged me to was a very difficult personal development journey. It was not easy, but at the end of the process, the joy on my mentor’s face when we met and I shared that I had completed the process was a look of joy I will never forget. It was the look of a man who was able to see the return on his investment into my life.
Thought for Today: Who’s investment into your life are you bringing a return on? Who is one person that you will invite to speak into your life?

Are You Hiding Behind Lies?

shutterstock_547651858.jpgProverbs 28:13-14

13Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
    but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
14Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always,
    but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.


When our kids were younger and were doing things they knew they shouldn’t do, they would often hide.  They would hide while they were doing what they shouldn’t, would try to hide the evidence of what they did, and when we confronted them, they would often try to hide behind lies. Needless to say, this wouldn’t work out well for them, and they would receive consequences for what they did wrong as well as receiving consequences for lying.

However, when they would do something they weren’t supposed to do but would admit their wrongdoing when we confronted them, the consequences were far less. There would be natural consequences for what they did wrong, but we would praise them for being truthful and confessing what they did. 
Take a look at this verse from 1 John 1:9-9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 
God wants us to run to Him when we have done wrong. He wants us to confess our sins so He can restore our relationship with Him. When we try to hide our sins, we don’t prosper because it causes us to hide from God and it affects our relationship with Him. 
Jesus has already paid the price for all our sins by dying on the cross. He proved He has the power over sin and death by coming back to life three days later. Jesus paid the price for us, so we don’t have any reason to be afraid. Besides, God already knows everything we’ve done or are going to do, and He was willing to pay for our sins anyway. He did this so we could have a healthy relationship with Him. We really can’t hide from God anyway, so let’s confess our sins so we can have a right relationship with Him. 
Thought for Today:  Keep short accounts with God this week. Freely admit (confess) to Him when you do something wrong and ask Him to help you run towards Him instead of trying to run away and hide.
Today’s Prayer: Father, please remind me to confess to you when I sin against you or your people this week. Help me to remember you love me, and if I have said YES to Jesus, you have already forgiven all my sins and wiped them away. Please help me to run toward you instead of running away when I do something wrong. Help me make the wisest choice and follow you this week.

 

 

Why We Need God + Others to Thrive

shutterstock_292117400.jpg

Proverbs 27:1, 6, 17

Do not boast about tomorrow,
    for you do not know what a day may bring…

Faithful are the wounds of a friend;

    profuse are the kisses of an enemy…

17 Iron sharpens iron,
    and one man sharpens another.


A friend loves, encourages, supports, empathizes, and gives generously when there is a need. A friend also speaks truth, says hard things, and calls out the bad, harmful, and damaging behavior.

A true friend does both. At Sun Valley, we say it like this. A friend loves and a friend leads. Love is the relationship and truth is the content. You can’t have authentic friendships without both.

I have come to realize that strong, godly friendships are rare.

Look at Proverbs 27:6. In this context, the wounds coming from a friend are not without necessity. The best kind of friend is one who loves you enough not to mind their own business, but who is willing to hurt your feelings for a moment for the sake of helping you turn away from sin.

Read verse 17. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Iron actually sharpens iron by shaving away any tiny bits that make the blade dull. We can sharpen each other by helping to get rid of the bits in our lives that make our lives spiritually dull.

As someone who sold knives in college, I learned that a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife. Also, a dull-edged blade can actually do more damage to the cook than to the food. When a blade is dull, it’s harder to use. Not only does it take more force to actually cut something, but it’s also harder to control. That’s why a dull blade can slice a finger quicker than a tomato, and why chefs spend hundreds on a great knife.

Cutting will render a blade ineffective, and on its own, it will never become sharp again. That’s the first truth about sharpening iron: A knife cannot sharpen itself. Nor can something weaker than iron, sharpen iron.

The conviction for me is that on my own, I am more dangerous than when I am with other followers of Jesus who love me. You need another person in your life. God never said all you need is Him. He says you need Him and other people.

Thought for Today: If you haven’t spent quality time with a good friend, make time by calendaring time today. What areas of your life need to be sharpened? When was the last time you, in love, spoke truth to a friend?

Today’s Prayer: God, thank you for healthy relationships that point us to Jesus. Thank you for friends who help us become more like Jesus.

 

Are You the Most Amazing Person You Know?

shutterstock_377606776.jpgProverbs 26: 4-5, 12, 16

4Answer not a fool according to his folly,
    lest you be like him yourself.
5Answer a fool according to his folly,
    lest he be wise in his own eyes…

12Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
    There is more hope for a fool than for him…

16The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
    than seven men who can answer sensibly.


I don’t know if you caught on to the common thread in the above verses, but in case you didn’t—Solomon is warning us to not be wise in our own eyes.

What does this actually mean? How can we know if we’re wise in our own eyes?

Here are just a few examples of how people who are wise in their own eyes like to think:

  • You ask for advice, but it’s not what you want to hear, so you don’t take it.
  • You think you are the smartest, best, most amazing person you know.
  • When you get into a debate with others, it often ends with lots of tension, hurt feelings, and even broken relationships.
  • Wiser, older, more experienced people are not allowed to speak into your life.

Is this you? Be honest.

We all struggle with pride sometimes, and it’s our pride that makes us feel so utterly superior to everyone else. Our pride makes us so foolish. Or worse. In verse 12, it seems that the prideful one is even worst than the foolish one. So how can you combat being wise in your own eyes?

  • PRAY. That God would tear down the pedestal you have yourself on, and that He would make you humble. John 3:30 says, “You must become greater and I must become less.”
  • Read the Bible more. And ask the Holy Spirit to reveal its truths to you, and guide you in it. John 16:13 says, “But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth.”
  • Ask those around you to forgive you for your prideful ways, and be intentional about talking to others with respect. Matthew 7:12 tells us to treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • Find wise, biblical counselors who can speak truth and wisdom into your life. Just because you don’t agree with them, doesn’t make them wrong. Proverbs 15:31 says, “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.”

You didn’t get prideful and foolish overnight, so you are not going to become humble and wise overnight either. But press on, and walk this path. This is the right path to be on.

Today’s Prayer: Lord, help me to see the foolishness of my ways. Help me to set aside my desire to always be right, to always get my way, to be seen as the smartest person in the room. Help me to care more about others than myself. Help me to care more about what you think of me, rather than what others, or even I think of myself. Amen.  

When Habits Become Unhealthy

shutterstock_447382945.jpgProverbs 25:28

28A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. 


In talking about self-control, I must admit: I have absolutely no willpower when I find cookies in our kitchen. I mean, I can walk by a sea of cookies at the grocery store and not even think about buying them. But, if I find some Oreos in our cupboards, it’s game over. You know what’s funny? I can’t remember a time when this wasn’t an issue for me.

Self-control is difficult and most of us, if we’re honest, struggle with controlling some aspect of our lives. For me, one of my many issues is that I eat too much, and it shows in the way I look. Maybe you have a different struggle and maybe the fruit of that issue manifests in a different way. Even the apostle Paul summarized his self-control issues this way: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15, ESV).

This proverb is not saying that everyone must be perfect, but it is saying that that we should care about these things. Just like Paul, we should hate it when we lose control of our behaviors and we should deal with it.

Maybe you get mad way too easy. Maybe there is that thing you don’t want anyone to know. Maybe you’re like me and you need help with overcoming an addiction. I say this not to make anyone feel guilty, but instead to lay down the challenge that we not let these things rule over us without a fight.

So, what can we do to regain control of our lives? The Bible is really clear that we can’t do it on our own. Check out what the book of James says: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16, ESV).

God never intended for us to fight these battles alone. We need other believers in our lives to help us overcome our hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Here are a few options that would be helpful:

  1. Be honest with other godly people and ask them to pray for you.
  2. Take advice from people you trust and let them hold you accountable.
  3. Try Celebrate Recovery (CR). For many amazing people in our church, this has been a life-changing step.
  4. Consider seeing a counselor. Contact us if you need help finding a licensed professional.

Today’s Prayer: Father, I submit my hurts, habits, and hang-ups to you. You are the great physician and you are more than capable of helping me with the things I can’t control. Please bring wise and godly people into my life and use them to help heal me as I open up about the things I’m not proud of. Amen!