Devotionals

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas,and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. —Mark 15:15

If grace is "unmerited favor," then perhaps there is no clearer illustration in Scripture than the exchange of Jesus for Barabbas. The gospels variously identify Barabbas as a robber, an insurrectionist, and a murderer, a combination of crimes which we often associate today with…

How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. —Psalm 82:2-4

Here in this Psalm we hear God delivering judgment on the 'gods' for their failure to use their power and positions…

Proverbs 31:30

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

What is the true beauty of a woman that can never be taken away? That kind of beauty comes primarily from within, and the source of it must be the fear of the Lord. The theme of the scriptures is more about our inward character…

Proverbs 31:28

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her.

To read this verse for many wives and mothers is a painful thing. It can bring up emotions of guilt and frustration. The challenge of motherhood is a precious yet heavy burden. So many times messages from the children are not blessings but disappointment and even rebellion.

Proverbs 31:27

She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

This Proverbs 31 excellent wife is not some writer’s concocted ideal of the “Barbie Doll” woman that is totally unrealistic. She is a real woman with real challenges. She is also a woman of real character.

In this brief description we see a godly…

Proverbs 31:23 and 26

Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Have you ever been complimented by someone for an impact you had on their lives and been surprised? It could have been a small gesture of kindness or the…

Proverbs 31:17 and 25

She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.

Once again, how do Christian women not read this and feel woefully out of shape in every way? This Proverbs woman looks intimidating in body and spirit!

Ladies, if you look at this description through Hollywood lenses…

Proverbs 31:13-16

She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food or her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a…

Proverbs 31:10-12

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.

Here’s the section of scripture that puts most married women on a guilt trip. Who can live…

Proverbs 31:8-9

Open your mouth for the mute, 
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

This first section of the last chapter of Proverbs concludes with the effects of godly wisdom. In this case words of a mother to her son.  Some more parental advice!

When the…

Proverbs 31:1-2

The words of King Lemuel.

An oracle that his mother taught him:
What are you doing, my son?
What are you doing, son of my womb?
What are you doing, son of my vows?

The book of Proverbs started with wise words from a Father to his son and now concludes with the godly wisdom of a mother to…

Proverbs 30:32-33  

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,
or if you have been devising evil,
put your hand on your mouth.  
For pressing milk produces curds,
pressing the nose produces blood,
and pressing anger produces strife.

Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase reads, "If you're dumb enough to call attention to yourself by offending people and making rude gestures, don't be surprised…

Proverbs 30:29-31

Three things are stately in their tread;
four are stately in their stride:  
the lion, which is mightiest among beasts
and does not turn back before any;  
the strutting rooster, the he-goat,
and a king whose army is with him. 

The lion is a mighty one, and does not turn back down from the face of other beasts…

Proverbs 30:24-28

Four things on earth are small,
but they are exceedingly wise:
the ants are a people not strong,
yet they provide their food in the summer;  
the rock badgers are a people not mighty,
yet they make their homes in the cliffs;  
the locusts have no king,
yet all of them march in rank;  
the lizard…

Proverbs 30:21-23

Under three things the earth trembles;
under four it cannot bear up:  
a slave when he becomes king,
and a fool when he is filled with food;  
an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress.

Do you know how to prevent earthquakes from occurring? Foundations from crumbling? The writer speaks…

Proverbs 30:18-20

There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:  
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.  

This is the way of an adulteress:

Proverbs 30:17

The eye that mocks a father
and scorns to obey a mother
will be picked out by the ravens of the valley
and eaten by the vultures.

Hopefully, you are not eating your breakfast while reading this graphic verse from Proverbs today! The Lord really does not like it when parents are dishonored, and the penalty can be quite violent.  Disrespect…

Proverbs 30: 15-16

The leech has two daughters;
“Give and Give”, they cry.
Three things are never satisfied;
four never say, “Enough”:
Sheol, the barren womb,
the land never satisfied with water,
and the fire that never says, “Enough”.

We are given here vivid pictures from nature and life that illustrate a perpetual hungering for more; not so much from…

Proverbs 30: 11-14

There are those who curse their fathers
and do not bless their mothers.
There are those who are clean in their own eyes
but are not washed of their filth.
There are those-how lofty are their eyes,
how high the eyelids lift!
There are those whose teeth are swords,
whose fangs are knives,
to devour the poor…

Proverbs 30:10

Do not slander a servant to his master,
lest he curse you and you be held guilty.

Slander is very damaging, and its effects can linger for many years. It can take the form of an outright lie; it can be an exaggeration of a supposed offense; it can be an accurate description of an event without considering the consequences; it can have…

Proverbs 30: 7-9

Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty or riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you and say,
“Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal and…

Proverbs 30:5-6 

Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

In yesterday’s devotional we saw that when Agur received wisdom, he realized his own unworthiness before God. Proverbs 30:4 reminds us that to know God is to know…

Proverbs 30:1-4

The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.

The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.
Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
I have not the understanding of a man.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended…

Proverbs 29:27 

An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,
but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

When I used to change the engine oil in my car, I would sometimes leave the old oil outside. After it rained, I noticed that a pool of water would collect on top of the oil but would never mix with it…

Proverbs 29:26

Many seek the face of a ruler,
but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.

How do people hope to succeed and advance up the corporate or educational ladder today? Most feel, there is no better way than knowing someone who can help you. As we say, “It is not what you know, but who you know,” that determines our…

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.

We all, if we are really honest, must confess to “fearing man” at one time or another in our life, whether it is a coach or an employer or a teacher. We were tempted to think that if we said something or did something that these people did not…

Proverbs 29:24  

The partner of a thief hates his own life;
he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.

If you’ve seen the TV show Law and Order, you have observed people aiding and abetting criminals by refusing to testify or actually perjuring themselves from the witness stand. Those people stand condemned if caught in their wrong-doing (TV never calls this a sin). The context of this proverb has to…

Proverbs 29:23

One’s pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. 

The prideful person will, indeed, “bring himself low” because of his behavior. This person is quick-tempered, boastful, arrogant, and rude. He insists on his own way, is resentful, rejoices in wrong-doing, and puffs himself up. Pride’s behavior is the opposite of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Honorable is…

Proverbs 29:22

A man of wrath stirs up strife,
and one given to anger causes much transgression.

Wrathful people are difficult people. They “stir up strife.” They cause trouble for us and others. They bully, act aggressively critical, and puff themselves up. Their behavior is the result of choices, and they choose to live with unhealthy choices. Difficult people go past the limits of decent behavior…

Proverbs 29:21

Whoever pampers his servant from childhood
will in the end find him his heir. 

Webster’s Dictionary defines pamper: "to cater excessively to someone or to his or her desires or feelings." To pamper is to gratify appetites, tastes, or desires—to indulge, spoil, coddle, mollycoddle (archaic), and baby. Indulgence suggests excessive lenience. Spoil, coddle and mollycoddle point to overprotective care that often leads to weakening…

Proverbs 29:20

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

The one who is hasty with his words is prideful, conceited, and possibly, contentious. Scripture tells us, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint . . .”…

This week in Proverbs is about discipline. Discipline is necessary because our hearts are wicked and inclined in the wrong direction. Through discipline comes wisdom and from wisdom comes righteousness and peace. In all this we must remember that Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and the Bringer of Peace.

 

Proverbs 29:19

By mere words a servant is not disciplined,
for though he understands,…

This week in Proverbs is about discipline. Discipline is necessary because our hearts are wicked and inclined in the wrong direction. Through discipline comes wisdom and from wisdom comes righteousness and peace. In all this we must remember that Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and the Bringer of Peace.

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,
but blessed is he…

This week in Proverbs is about discipline. Discipline is necessary because our hearts are wicked and inclined in the wrong direction. Through discipline comes wisdom and from wisdom comes righteousness and peace. In all this we must remember that Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and the Bringer of Peace.

Proverbs 29:17

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
he will give delight to your…

This week in Proverbs is about discipline. Discipline is necessary because our hearts are wicked and inclined in the wrong direction. Through discipline comes wisdom and from wisdom comes righteousness and peace. In all this we must remember that Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and the Bringer of Peace. 

Proverbs 29:16

When the wicked increase, transgression increases,
but the righteous will look upon their downfall. 

This week in Proverbs is about discipline. Discipline is necessary because our hearts are wicked and inclined in the wrong direction. Through discipline comes wisdom and from wisdom comes righteousness and peace. In all this we must remember that Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and the Bringer of Peace. 

Proverbs 29:15

The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to…

Proverbs 29:14

If a king faithfully judges the poor,
his throne will be established forever.

As Americans, most of us probably feel far removed from monarchy. Our presidents and other elected officials serve for limited terms that never go on forever. This was not true in Old Testament Israel and the nations that surrounded it: the ideal was for a king to rule for many…

Proverbs 29:13

The poor man and the oppressor meet together;
the LORD gives light to the eyes of both.

The book of Proverbs is very concerned with righteous and compassionate treatment of the poor and the downtrodden. This verse echoes several other proverbs that get at a similar message. The English Standard Version (ESV) gives a very literal translation of this verse that is, perhaps in this…

Proverbs 29:12

If a ruler listens to falsehood,
all his officials will be wicked.

One of the common sense rules of economics is that supply often follows demand. When, for example, the iPhone created a huge demand for smartphones, dozens of others manufacturers attempted to fill the market with a supply of smartphones of varying quality. That same principle is the point of today's proverb…

Proverbs 29:11

A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.

The proverbs are full of vivid contrasts, especially between the foolish and the wise. The picture painted in this proverb contrasts the fool—who never has a thought or emotion that he doesn’t express in words or actions—with the wise man—who is measured and prudent in giving voice…

Proverbs 29:10

Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless,
and seek the life of the upright.

Anyone who has ever been to summer camp knows that there is one camper in every cabin who is the goody-two-shoes. They, usually unintentionally, spoil every prank or unsafe (but thrilling) activity by telling the counselor everything and, thus, become the object of loathing by the more mischievous campers…

Proverbs 29:9

If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.

Is it worth our time and energy to dispute with a foolish man?  We can all, no doubt, remember having to discuss and seek some resolution with one who had no intention to come to an agreement. Proverbs 29:9 directs the wise…

Proverbs 29:8

Scoffers set a city aflame,
but the wise turn away wrath.

Who would you rather have in your immediate community? A scoffer? Or a wise man? Obviously, we would rather have one who seeks to build up the public arenas rather than one who tears down the community. Poverbs 29:8 contrasts these two and their contribution (or lack thereof) to the fabric of…

Proverbs 29:7

A righteous man knows the rights of the poor;
a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.

What are the reasons for poverty in the world? Sometimes I ask my students that question, and frequently the answer is that they are poor because they are not even seeking work. It is an easy assumption, and though this may be the case, it certainly…

Proverbs 29:6

An evil man is ensnared in his transgression,
but a righteous man sings and rejoices.

My mother often reminded me growing up that one of the dangers of sin is that if committed once, it often is very easy, unless confessed and repented of, to commit the same sin again and again and again. After awhile, the sin becomes a habit, and our…

Proverbs 29:5

A man who flatters his neighbor
spreads a net for his feet.

Be careful of flattery! Someone may be flattering you or you may be flattering someone else. To flatter someone is to commend others either for the good they do in life or for the goods they have. In reality, however, the praise you give others may not be as good as you…

Proverbs 29:4 

By justice a king builds up the land,
but he who exacts gifts tears it down.

A ruler who rules justly builds up his land. He encourages and blesses his people. This was true in the days of the Israel’s divinely ordained theocracy, and it is true today of governments of every variety. The promotion of justice fostered by those in authority is…

Proverbs 29:3 

He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

When I was twelve years old, I played Little League baseball. I was not a particularly good hitter, but there was this one at bat that I will always remember. It was the time that I hit my only home run right over the center field fence. My…

Proverbs 29:2 

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, the people groan.

A couple of days ago we looked at Proverbs 28:28, "When the wicked rise, people hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase." Proverbs 29:2 provides a kind of flip-side observation: "When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan."

A…

Proverbs 29:1

He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
will suddenly be broken beyond healing.

Who in your life is a pain in the neck? Don’t answer that! The issue before us in this proverb is not family members, friends, or neighbors whom we might regard as a pain. The issue before us in this proverb is the pain that we sometimes inflict…