Friday, July 3, 2009

Proverbs 11: 23-31

The desire of the righteous is only good,
But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more,
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.
The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered.
He who withholds grain, the people will curse him,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.
He who diligently seeks good seeks favor,
But he who seeks evil, evil will come to him.
He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.
He who troubles his own house will inherit wind,
And the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise wins souls.
If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth,
How much more the wicked and the sinner!

Today's Thought Questions:
  1. How do you think God uses people's generosity? Have you personally benefited from a generous and giving person?
  2. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

od uses those who seek Him, seek good, seek wisdom to spread more of the same. He blesses those who are generous!

This is a message that is now being broadcast a great deal, given our current economic climate--and that's both secular and Christian media. There are so many folks who are hurting in so many ways. Food pantries need to help more families. There are more locally oriented missions reaching out to the community to meet other needs--clothing, housing, transportation, jobs. In spite of the news saying that things are bad, the media is also saying, "Give! Give! Give!" with the Christian media adding that when we do give, God blesses us beyond the obvious.

"There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more." (vs 24) It almost seems a contradiction. But, that's what our God does. "Take what you have. Give it up out of faithfulness to Me. Watch what I will do." And, God demonstrates the increase, time and time again.

Picking up on the "sowing" from yesterday, just think about seeds being scattered--and the parable of the sower is just that--and what a harvest is possible from that! God needs to be in the working throughout, of course, which is why Proverbs talks about generous, righteous, good-seeking people.

I am surrounded by generous people--family and friends. People who see my needs and don't hesitate to meet them. Things from money, to food, to books, to taking my children for a time, to gifts, to time spent on projects.... There is a wonderful feeling associated with giving, and it's felt on both ends. There is a reciprocal nature about it as well--God-designed, no doubt! When I read the 2nd chapter of Acts, I often wonder what that environment in the first church looked like, and how do we get back to that....
"All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
--Acts 2: 44-47

And, did you catch the blessing that came with the giving? "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." That's just what He does!

I picked the last verse to consider today: "If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!" (vs. 31) The wording was interesting. What does it mean to be rewarded? Something received in response to something else, keeping it very general. Of course, we most likely think about a reward as a "good" something. But, as this verse illustrates, it doesn't always have to be good. We can reap "bad" rewards, too.

Sometimes, it seems like the wicked do not receive their "just" reward. Proverbs contradicts that, as in our verses yesterday--"Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free." (vs 21, NIV) What's important to catch here and in verse 31, as well, is the idea of tense. We may not see the wicked get punished, but that doesn't mean the won't. From my S.B.,

"God's final blessing and reward to the 'righteous,' and His judgment and punishment of the 'wicked' and 'sinners' come after life on this earth has ended. But there are foretastes of both during life on the earth, as the righteous experience God's personal care and goodness, while the wicked are void of it."

And as we experience God's personal care and goodness, His generosity--His grace--is what feeds our desire to do good. (vs 1)


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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Questions:

Proverbs 12: 1-9
  1. In Proverbs 6, God tells us the importance of discipline or correction. In Proverbs 12:1, we are challenged to love discipline. What should the position of our hearts be in order to receive correction in this way? If we hate correction, we are "stupid." What do you think about this?
  2. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

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Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).

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