How I Hated Discipline

At the end of life, you will lament when your physical body has been consumed, and you will say, “How I hated discipline, and how my heart despised correction. I didn’t obey my teachers or listen closely to my mentors. I am on the verge of complete ruin before the entire community.” Proverbs 5:11-13 HCSB

Even though I am blessed with four wonderful children, many times I had to discipline them when they were younger. They never liked the discipline, but I did it because I knew what was best for them. I knew it would help them to become mature adults who contributed to society. They each learned from the discipline, and it made them better people.

Too often we do not ask for advice and rebel against any discipline that comes our way. We tend to want satisfaction instead of advice. The best advice to defeat temptation is to make a decision about whatever the temptation is before the temptation comes our way. Comedian Dennis Swanberg says that as a youth pastor he would tell the teens that they needed to make a decision about what they were going to do on a date before they ever went on the date. He said, “Either make plans or your glands will decide for you.” One should not wait until he is faced with temptation to decide what he is going to do. Have a plan and avoid even putting yourself in a tempting situation.

Challenge: Be willing to accept discipline and correction. It will help you follow God’s plan instead of Satan’s plan. Create a plan regarding how you will handle tempting situations.

Stay Away!

So now, my sons, listen to me, and don’t turn away from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her. Don’t go near the door of her house. Otherwise, you will give up your vitality to others and your years to someone cruel; strangers will drain your resources, and your earnings will end up in a foreigner’s house. Proverbs 5:7-10 HCSB

As a the Youth Associate for the Missouri Baptist Convention I trained many youth ministers across the state. One of the things I would always tell them, “Avoid all appearances of evil, and avoid putting yourself in a situation where someone could question your character or honesty.” My father always told me, “Two things to avoid in ministry – women and money.” His point was that if a person were to put himself in a position where others could question him about what he was doing with a woman that was not his wife or with money, he was playing with fire and would eventually get burned. I encouraged male youth ministers to never counsel with a female teenager alone and to even avoid taking a female teenager home from a youth event when it was just the two of them. I also encouraged them to let other people handle all money transactions so no one could accuse them of mis-using the money in any way.

These verses remind us to “Keep your way far from her. Don’t go near the door of her house.” This is a clear warning that the best way to avoid temptation is to avoid any situation that would put you in a tempting situation or even be questioned by someone else. There are consequences when one yields to temptation. One gives up his vitality. The Hebrew word for vitality could be translated majesty, honor, glory, or grandeur.

Challenge: Are you willing to give up your vitality for a short time of pleasure? Avoid all appearances of evil. When tempted, follow Christ’s example and use Scripture to defeat Satan and his traps.

Forbidden Woman

Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil, in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Proverbs 5:3-4 HCSB

There are times when we all are tempted by something that appears to be appealing. To one it might be a cigarette, to another it might be drugs or alcohol. Others may be tempted by pornography or lust to be with a man or woman who is not their husband or wife. Some may experience the temptation to have sexual relations with someone before marriage. All of these attractions may seem enticing and exciting, but in the end they will always bring pain and suffering.

These words in Proverbs remind us to stay away from the appeals of the adulteress or seductive woman. Her words seem to be sweet and inviting but the “loose woman” will only bring bitterness like wormwood or a double-edged sword. Wormwood is the root of a shrub that was exceptionally bitter. The double-edged sword was used in battle so a warrior could swing both directions to attack his enemy. The words of the adulterous will only bring pain and death like a double-edged sword.

Challenge: Do not yield to the temptation of the adulterous woman or the other temptations you will face. Pray that God will help you stand strong so you might overcome the temptations that come your way.

It’s The Social Thing to Do

It is not for kings, Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine or for rulers to desire beer. Otherwise, they will drink, forget what is decreed, and pervert justice for all the oppressed. Proverbs 31:4-5 HCSB

Alcohol is one of the most socially acceptable substances in our society. It seems that almost everyone drinks alcohol. Gallup reports that sixty-seven percent of Americans drink alcohol with beer being the favorite, followed by wine and then liquor. The media plays up drinking as the “cool” thing to do. It presents the deceptive picture that if one drinks he will be popular and have all the fun in life. The commercials never show the wrecked lives of those addicted to alcohol or the scenes of automobile accidents caused by drunk drivers.

Because alcohol is so acceptable, it is one of the most dangerous drugs. Alcohol can damage the liver and brain, contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, and a depressed immune system not to mention that alcohol causes one to make bad decisions that often lead to financial losses, broken relationships, and even injury or death.

It is for these reasons that Solomon reminds us that wine is not for rulers. A king or ruler needs to have a sharp mind, capable of making good decisions and rendering justice fairly. If you are the one standing before the king, you certainly want him to be sober and in his right mind before making any decisions or rules that affect you or others. If this is good advice for the king, then it certainly is good advice for others as well.

Challenge: Do not be swayed by the popular opinion that everyone is drinking. Be one of the thirty-three percent who do not drink alcohol. Do not believe the commercials telling you that drinking will bring happiness and fun. Pray that God will give you the strength to take a stand and set an example to abstain from drinking alcohol.

Just Give Me Another Drink

You’ll be like someone sleeping out at sea or lying down on the top of a ship’s mast. “They struck me, but I feel no pain! They beat me, but I didn’t know it! When will I wake up? I’ll look for another drink.” Proverbs 23:34-35 HCSB

Wikipedia reports that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid fellowship founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio. AA states that its primary purpose is “to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety”. With other early members Wilson and Smith developed AA’s Twelve Step program of spiritual and character development. There are over two million members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

These verses reflect a picture of someone who is addicted to alcohol and constantly looking for the next drink. When drinking, a person loses his ability to feel physical and emotional pain. Once sober, the person begins to feel pain and only seeks another drink to dull the pain. The best way to keep from becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs is to abstain from both. If one never takes the first drink, he does not have to worry about becoming addicted.

Challenge: Abstain from alcohol and drugs. Pray for those who are addicted to alcohol. Encourage them to participate in a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous and to seek treatment.

Wine is Deceiving

Don’t gaze at wine because it is red, when it gleams in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a snake and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and you will say absurd things. Proverbs 23:31-33 HCSB

According to Market Watch, 31.4 billion bottles of wine are bought and sold worldwide every year. And according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the equivalent of 36 billion bottles of wine are produced worldwide each year. The United States is ranked fourth in the world with France being the number one producer of wine. Wine is appealing to the sight and to the taste. It is used as a drink with meals and for celebrations.

In Old Testament times Israel was a wine-producing country. Winepresses bursting with lots of wine were considered to be a sign of blessing. Wisdom is even said to have set her table with wine (Proverb 9:2-5). But Solomon is quick to alert one to the dangers of wine. It dulls the senses, it limits clear judgment, lowers one’s ability to control himself, it makes one less efficient. Too often people use alcohol as a means to escape from life. This invites the consequences of a drunkard as described in these verses. A drunkard will see strange things and will say absurd things.

Challenge: Don’t be deceived, in the end, when one least expects it, wine will cause pain like a snake bite or a bee sting. When you indulge in wine you can expect to suffer the consequences. Pray that God gives you wisdom and helps you avoid the painful effects of drinking wine.

Staying on the Right Course

Listen, my son, and be wise; keep your mind on the right course. Proverbs 23:19 HCSB

Each year the Derby Marathon and Mini-Marathon is run in Louisville, Kentucky. Everyone starts at the same place and finishes at the same place, but there is a point on the course where the marathon runners go one direction and those running the mini-marathon go a different direction. There was one couple that ran together to that point but then kissed and the husband headed in the direction for the marathon runners and his wife went the other way. It was important that they stay on the right course.

Solomon warns that one must be wise and keep his mind on the right course. Just imagine if some of the runners had not been keeping their minds on what they were doing and headed down the wrong course for the race. The marathon runners would not have completed the right course and the mini-marathon runners more than likely would never have finished. There are many areas in life in which we can be distracted and take the wrong course. If we are going to stay on the right course, we must daily seek God’s will and direction in every decision. Satan will always try to steer us in the wrong direction.

Challenge: Do not allow Satan to deceive you and lead you down the wrong path. Daily spend time in God’s Word and in prayer seeking His plan and direction for your life.

Alcohol and Drugs Cause Problems

Wine is a mocker, beer is a brawler, and whoever staggers because of them is not wise. Proverbs 20:1 HCSB

Just this week in the news there was an account of young man who jumped the curb with the car he was driving and ran over a five year old boy who was riding his scooter on the sidewalk. The driver did not stop. Sadly, the little boy was killed. The police were able to track down the car and eventually charged the young man with murder and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. His bail was set at one million dollars. Because of one young man’s mistake, he has ended the life of an innocent little boy and he has ruined his own life for many years to come, not to mention the family of the little boy and his own family.

This proverb gives some very wise advice. Wine will mock a person and make a fool of him if he drinks it. Beer can make one more aggressive and cause him to lose his good judgment. Someone who drinks too much alcohol will stagger and possibly even cause a bad accident if he is driving. Therefore, the wise person will avoid alcohol and drugs.

Challenge: Be wise and stay away from alcohol and drugs. They will ultimately bring difficulties to your life. Ask God to help you avoid the temptation to drink or take drugs.

He Has Been Resurrected

“Don’t be alarmed,” he told them, “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been resurrected! He is not here! See the place where they put Him. Mark 16:6 HCSB

Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There will be many people who dress up in new clothes and go to church. There will be children who search for Easter eggs and there will be the talk of the Easter bunny that brings candy. The reality is that Easter is all about the hope we find in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of His resurrection there is hope. We, as believers, have the confidence that we too will someday be resurrected to live eternally with Jesus in heaven.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is vital to the Christian faith. Jesus promised that He would rise from the dead, so we can believe that He keeps His promises. Christ’s resurrection gives us the assurance that we also will be resurrected someday. The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us even today as we strive to live for Jesus. We were spiritually dead, but through Christ we can have a new life, an abundant life, living with purpose and meaning. The resurrection is the substance of the Church’s message to a lost and dying world. There is hope. There is forgiveness. There is eternal life. There is reason for living. We must proclaim the resurrection message to the world. That is the Easter message!

Challenge: Go to church this Easter and celebrate the risen Lord. Thank God that you have the hope of forgiveness, resurrection, and eternal life. Share the Easter message with others and invite them to go to church with you.

Truly Amazing

When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; they were amazed and alarmed. Mark 16:5 HCSB

The website 25 Spectacular Wonders of the World lists 25 different amazing wonders of our world. Sites that made the list include the Panama Canal, the Channel Tunnel between France and the United Kingdom, the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Grand Canyon, the Roman Colosseum, the Great Wall of China, and the Pyramids. I have had the pleasure of seeing a few of these wonders and they are truly amazing, but nothing compared to what the women found on the morning after the Sabbath.

When the women entered the tomb and did not find the body of Christ but instead found a man dressed in a white robe, they were amazed. They were expecting to find the body of Jesus to anoint with special spices and perfumes that would help mask the odor of a decaying body. Instead, they found an empty tomb. The resurrection of a dead body would have been truly amazing, even more amazing than any of the 25 Spectacular Wonders of the World.

Challenge: Are you amazed that Jesus actually died and rose from the dead? The resurrection of Jesus really is amazing and should be proclaimed to everyone in every nation. How has His resurrection impacted your life? What can you do to communicate the amazing truth of the resurrection of Jesus?