September 1 | Revenge

Text: Proverbs 24.28-29

Our desire for revenge comes almost as quickly as the offense: theft of property, public humiliation, damaged reputation, the target of gossip or lying. As soon as we’re aware of the offense, we sense an overwhelming desire to “get even” or as Bob King, Knapp Street Campus pastor, described it, “get the scales back to even.”

Our heart resonates with the author of Proverbs 24.28, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.”

It doesn’t take an extended period of thinking and contemplation to come to this conclusion: it happens immediately. This is where our heart instantly goes when someone offends us.

But the writer of Proverbs issues a strong warning to us when we find ourselves in this situation: “Don’t do it.” The first step in responding in a God-honoring way when we’ve been hurt, is to respond in a way totally contrary to our first inclination. In the heat of an emotional situation our first response must be, “Stop. Don’t.”

As you invite God into your day, meditate on Proverbs 24.28-29 and ask him for the wisdom and restraint to “Stop” when you sense you’ve been hurt (especially if you’ve recently been hurt). When the urge for revenge resurfaces, pause and recall these verses to your mind.

August 29 | Heart

Text: Jeremiah 17.9-10

While Agur’s desire was to live in harmony with God, and was the basis of his prayer (Proverbs 30.7-9), he knew there was one significant obstacle in his path: his heart. He knew his heart and what he was capable of doing. It wasn’t good. He would have agreed with the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17.9)?

Only the saving grace of Jesus can “cure” our sinful hearts. He’s the only one who can. Remind yourself of God’s glorious grace by listening to Elevation Worship’s “Grace So Glorious.”

Continue your reading of Proverbs by reading chapter 29 and selecting one proverb for your life today.

August 28 | Erosion

Text: Revelation 3.14-22 

Wealth can erode our faith, both individually and collectively as a church. It’s the situation Jesus addressed in Laodicea when he said, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3.17). This church was financially set, but spiritually bankrupt.

We, too, can have a false sense of security if we believe our material wealth means we’respiritually wealthy. The two are not connected and we’re on dangerous ground if that’s what we think.

Today, in addition to reading Proverbs 28, follow Jesus’ command to the Laodicean church, “So be earnest and repent” (Revelation 3.19). Repent of those attitudes and actions where you’ve connected your wealth to your spirituality.

August 27 | Forgetfulness

Text: Deuteronomy 8.10-18

“The blessing of wealth does not spontaneously result in growing devotion to God. In fact, the gravitational pull seems to be in the opposite direction,” Jeff Manion, Satisfied, p.184.

This “gravitational pull” away from God in times of prosperity is not new. Thousands of years before the time of Jesus, God warned the Israelites against such a situation when they enjoyed his blessings: “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 8.10-11).

Review the trajectory of your life over the past several years, especially if your income, possessions, and status have continued to grow. If your review shows you pulling away from God, even subtly, confess that before him. Talk to a trusted, mature believer about changes you can make to alter this trajectory.

Continue your reading of Proverbs by reading chapter 27.

August 26 | Simplicity

Text: Proverbs 30.7-9

After beginning with a request for honesty, Agur concludes his prayer by requesting financial simplicity, “…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (Proverbs 30.8b). Desiring to land somewhere in the “moderate middle,” Agur asks only for what is essential to meet his day-to-day needs: not too much (at the risk of forgetting the goodness of God) and not too little (at the risk of becoming a thief).

The risk for most of us, although certainly not all, is to continually drift from God as our bank accounts grow and our possessions increase: “There’s nothing to eat” (with full pantries and refrigerators) and “I’ve got nothing to wear” (with no room in the closet for one more thing). We have so much more than what we “need.”

In addition to reading Proverbs 26, spend significant time in prayer simply being thankful for God’s financial blessings in your life (however large or small you may perceive them to be). Use your thankfulness to say “No” to one purchase—of something you don’t need—this week.

August 25 | Honesty

Text: Proverbs 30.7-9

Jeff Manion, senior teaching pastor, focused our attention on the two requests of Agur in his Proverbs 30 prayer; the prayer of a man who deeply desired to remain spiritually focused. The first of the two is honesty: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me…” (Proverbs 30.8). Agur hungers for honesty in every aspect of his life and here begs God for his help.

Every relationship relies on trust to hold it together: your spouse, children, employee/employer, business relationships, and neighbors. When you discover someone has lied to you, trust has been eroded and significant damage has been done. Deceit destroys everything it touches.

Today, after you read Proverbs 25, look forward to your week ahead and those conversations where you’ll be tempted to lie: a “promise” to a customer, withholding information from your spouse, or deceiving your parents about an evening activity. Before you enter these situations, take a moment and pray Agur’s prayer, “Lord, keep falsehood and lies far from me,” and rely on God’s Spirit to give you the strength to live honestly.

August 22 | Rules

Text: Deuteronomy 6.1-9 

Many of us still remember the rules we had growing up—some we understood and agreed with, others we didn’t. But in most cases, these rules were meant to keep us safe and instill good life disciplines. Some rules carried greater consequences than others, but ideally they were meant to bless us.

Deuteronomy 6.1-9 emphasizes the generational impact rules can have. Rules helped Israel have a vibrant relationship with God and flourish as his children. But they must be continually communicated and lived if they’re going to accomplish the goal.

Today, write down the most important spiritual truths taught to you by a parent or a role model. Then write that person a note or e-mail thanking them for their investment in your life.

Continue your reading through Proverbs by reading chapter 22 and selecting one proverb that applies to you.

August 21 | Listening

Text: Proverbs 19.20 

When parents say, “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” children get the point immediately: they know what comes next is very important and something they need to hear!  It’s true for us as well. If we don’t position ourselves to hear what we’re being told, we won’t receive life-giving wisdom (Proverbs 19.20).

To be Christ-followers requires we listen. If we don’t, we’re not just rejecting wisdom, but we may be rejecting Christ all together (Luke 6.46-49).

Today, gauge how well you listen. Pay attention to your posture and attitude when someone instructs you. Unfold your arms, make eye contact, quiet your heart, and listen. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you receive life-giving instruction today from wherever it may come.

Continue your reading through Proverbs by reading chapter 21.

August 20 | Humility or Pride

Text: Proverbs 16.18 

We all have skills and abilities that help us excel at one thing or another: sports, art, music, business, teaching, or a trade. But if we’re not careful, we can begin to think we’re so good we don’t need correction.

A prideful attitude in the face of correction is dangerous because it can hurt others. In the ancient world, humility was essential to the common good. Agrarian families could literally starve if children couldn’t accept correction. That’s why Proverbs 16.18 says: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Today, after you read Proverbs 20, reflect on how well you receive correction. Ask God to help you become more humble when you receive correction, not just for your good but also for the good of others.

August 19 | Correction

Text: Proverbs 15.31-32

Athletes understand discipline better than most. To excel, they need to make constant corrections to improve their performance. If they don’t, their skill and effectiveness will suffer. The Christian life is no different (except we’re disciples, not athletes)—we also need constant correction; not to win a competition, but to effectively and faithfully follow Christ.

Correction is essential because it breeds understanding, and understanding guides us as we live our lives (Proverbs 15.31-32). While correction sometimes requires just a minor adjustment, other times a total overhaul is necessary. This was the case with King David in 2 Samuel 11-12.

David had committed adultery with a woman, got her pregnant, killed her husband to cover it up, and only realized his sin when he received God’s correction. Only when David truly understood his behavior was he able to repent. Correction helped David see his sin and moved him toward God.

Understanding rarely comes easily. Only by humbly recognizing our need for understanding and correction will we grow as Christ-followers: correction is essential to discipleship.

Today, after you’ve read Proverbs 19, reflect on the last time you received correction. Take some time to write down what you received and the changes you’ve made as a result. Then thank God for those he’s using to bring correction in your life.