QT – Proverbs 18

Vs. 2, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”  I’m reminded of the book of James to be slow to speak and quick to listen.  If we are honest with ourselves, I think we are more foolish than we would like to admit.  Fools talk and talk (vs. 2), fools cause strife (vs. 6), fools jump to conclusion (vs. 13).  Yikes, guilty as charged!  We are also reminded how valuable friendship is to us again (vs. 24)

Regarding application…Dealing with Disputes.  Vs. 19, “A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.”  While I’ve never seen a barred gate of a citadel, I can imagine it being very hard to get through.  Disputes in life are bound to happen.  But it’s how we deal with them that will determine if love and forgiveness will transpire.  Before long, those gates can separate us so much that we just give up.  As the year of 2010 comes to a close, that is one of the things you can smash in your life.  Smash disputes like young Josiah smashed the idols in Judah!  Draw nearer to each other and allow love to cover over a multitude of sins!

QT – Proverbs 17

Vs. 3, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.” You can use this chapter to test the condition of your heart.  Who do you hang out with, what do you listen to (vs.4)? A pastor once said, “Your ears will hear what your heart loves.”  What brings you joy(vs.5)?…are you glad when you see others suffer?  How do your respond to tough times (vs.9,13)?…Do you think of ways to get even or try to reconcile?  What are things you give in to (Vs.23)?  Some say every person has their price, their breaking point that they will give in if it benefits them…let’s not be one of them.
Regarding application…Importance of Friendship.  Vs. 17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  The example I can think of most clearly in the Bible about friendship is Jonathan & David.  Jonathan loved David when he was playing his music in the palace as well as when he was hiding for his life, trying to escape King Saul. Although Jonathan was the son of Saul and heir to the throne, he loved David.  No matter how adverse the circumstance…Jonathan remained loyal to his friend.  Let me tell you right now…It is a wonderful thing to have a friend like that.  If someone doesn’t love you at all times, that person is not your friend!!!  It is one of the disappointments of life to have someone profess to love you and be your friend, then when a tough situation arises, you find that he really does not love you after all.
Don’t ever take a friendship for granted.  Pray that God would provide a Godly friend or two in your life.  David had other friends…but Jonathan held a very close part of his life.  We should be so fortunate & blessed to have a true best friend in life.  Not only should you pray for a loyal loving friend…but you should see how you can be selfless and give to those God provides.  If you say, “I don’t have a close friend.”…perhaps it is because you are not reaching out and taking a chance.  I am so thankful & blessed for God has given me three very close friendships in my life!!!  One phone call from any of them would have me give up what I am doing and even fly to where they are if they were in a situation that required my help.  Not only should you hope for a close friend…but make sure you are loving others at all times!  When you choose to be selective with your love…you are breaking the heart of God

QT – Proverbs 16

Vs. 2, “All  person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.”  There are times in our life where we make plans….but when the time comes….God is the One who is going to have the last word!  We may make a great boast, but only God can give the final answer.  Ask any non-believer about salvation and here is a response you will see quite often, “I’m a pretty good person, I haven’t done anything horrible…as long as you are good, you’ll go a good place.”  There are even a great deal of Christians who convince themselves that nothing is really wrong with their walk.   We need to hold up a mirror of the Word of God and let it reveal to us who we really are.

Regarding application…The movie “The Matrix”…The red pill or the blue pill.  One pill will reveal the true nature of the world…the other pill will let you live on without knowledge of what is truly real.  Think of proverbs as a pill…a pill that will reveal to you the truth!  Ask a geologist how old a rock is and they will give you all this scientific data about how old it is…ask a meterologist why the sky is blue and they will tell you about how the sun reflects off the atmosphere…but when it really comes down to it…It was God’s intention that our lives and this earth is the way it is.  No man’s wisdom will ever explain the ways of God.  Proverbs begins to reveal to us the limited knowledge of man.  But most importantly…we see here even in this chapter the different ways a person can go with the condition of their heart.  How is your heart?  Are you letting God reveal to you the wisdom from above?

QT – Proverbs 15

Vs. 3, “The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” We cannot hide from the eyes of the Lord.  All the comparisons to good and evil throughout Proverbs are measured in our own lives by the Lord.  He knows our actions but more importantly he knows the intent of the heart.  We are exhorted to watch our tongues (vs. 4, 7) but don’t  forget that we must watch our thoughts too!  

Regarding application…Discipline from Parents.  Vs. 5, “A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.”  It’s not an easy thing to defer to a parent’s discipline.  The fact is, sometimes parents are wrong!  However, that does not give us the right disobey and react with disrespect.  When I was a young, I used to mutter under my breath and think my mom didn’t understand.  But I was a very foolish boy.  Take time to appreciate your parents and humble yourself in times of correction and discipline.  

QT – Proverbs 14

Vs. 2, “Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly, but those who despise him are devious in their ways.”  There are so many ways to be wise as we continue on in the Proverbs.  Each sentence provides morsels of wisdom as we apply it to our lives.  We can choose to be wise or devious (vs. 2).  We can choose to be foolish or smart (vs. 7).  We can choose to be wicked or righteous (vs. 11).  We can choose to be gullible or wise (vs. 15).  We can choose to be kind to people or turn away from people (vs. 21).  We can choose to be hardworking or lazy (vs. 23). We can choose to be truthful or dishonest (vs. 25).  We can choose to be righteous or sinful (vs. 34).

Regarding application…We Need Patience.  Vs. 29, “Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly, but those who despise him are devious in their ways.”  In a world of instant gratification…I think its safe to say we need some patience in our lives.  Throughout my life, I have found God has humbled me often when it comes to patience.  I thought I would be married by 25…but it took me till 34.  I thought I would have four kids by now, but I’m 37 and still patiently waiting.  But I know God has His ways and His timing.  As we round out the last week of 2010, let us be patient for our hopes and dreams as 2011 arrives.  

QT – Proverbs 13

Vs. 1, “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.”  This chapter continues the theme of different ways that we can be wise in this world we live in.  We’ve heard the saying…”Birds of the same feather, flock together.”  If we choose to befriend those who are wise, our tendency will be to act like them (vs. 20).  We also live in a day where the economy is woefully struggling, so being wise with our finances is a definite plus!  (vs. 7, 11, 22).  

Regarding application…Seeking Advice.  A wise son seeks the advice of his father.  Not only do we want to seek the advice of our father’s (For those who have them in their life)…we should always seek counsel when it comes to the decisions we have to make.  So often, we are quick to make our minds up with what we want to to.  It doesn’t mean that what we originally decided is the wrong choice, but to not seek advice from those who are wise is a very foolish thing.  

QT – Proverbs 11

Vs. 6, “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.”  We see Solomon contrast righteousness and evil throughout this chapter.  When we desire to be a righteous person there is absolutely an advantage!  We see often the benefits that God can bless us with from Vs. 4, 6, 8, 9, 21.  But don’t forget that this is not fail-safe way to prevent trials in our life.  God has His ways of doing things.  But also, we see a life that when lived with evil intentions.  See the outcomes of evil…disgrace, wrath, trapped, destroy, deceptive.  

Regarding application…Deception.  Vs. 3, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”   When I was in 5th grade…I did a very dishonest act.  On one of my math tests I got a “F”.  Back then…I still cared what I got regarding grades =).  One of the requirements was that each student who got an “F” had to take the test back home to one of their parents and have them sign the test indicating that they had seen it.  It wasn’t that I was terrified I woluld be grounded…but it was more like I was ashamed of myself…because I knew I could have done better.  I found my father’s signature in his office and spent over an hour practicing his signature.  I forged my father’s signature on the test…thinking the teacher will never know.  Boy, was I wrong!!!  It was foolish then and it is a foolish thingnow to do in our lives.  Being dishonest in anything we do can only bring negative things into our lives.  It can damage our reputation…it can hurt others deeply…and most important it grieves the Lord!  Let us be people who live “honest” lives in all we do.  Little “white lies” can catch up with the best of anyone.  Sometimes, I think we are dishonest because we are afraid others will not accept us for our faults.  That’s why I forged my father’s signature.  Pray that you would not be a deceptive person!

QT – Proverbs 10

Vs. 8, “The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.”  How important it is to be a person who desires to be wise.  There are opportunities that God gives us to make choices in this life.  When we make the right decisions we see the good consequences that come of it; bringing joy to parents, God providing food and protection, God blessing our lives, and having joy in this life, etc.  

Regarding application…Danger of Words  Vs. 18, “Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.”  Question: Have you ever stretched the truth when talking about another person?  Have you ever gossiped or slandered someone out of hatred?  It is a foolish thing to store up hatred and slander others.  In a time where our words are not just said and disappear…we must be very mindful of how we communicate.  So many of us text, email, facebook, twitter, blog, etc.  What we say can have a lasting affect.  Let us be people who wisely choose our words and adhere to the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.”

QT – Proverbs 9

Vs. 10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  The reader is offered two invitations…one from “Wisdom” (with a banquet of bread, meat, & winde)…the other “Folly” (stolen bread & water).  Both make their appeal to the simple.  Though we don’t like to think of ourselves this way…we are simple.  The foolish scoff at rebuke &  teaching…while the wise gain from it.  Which one have you been?  Which invitation will you choose?  Like it or not…every person chooses one or the other. 
Regarding application…Wisdom in the Word. I used to think of myself with above average wisdom.  But the Lord in time humbled me severely upon attending Bible College.  It was then that I realized that I was a fool in so many ways.  Up to that point, I knew about QT’s and I knew reading the Bible was important…yet…it was something I did every now and then.  I foolishly thought that I could get by without having to do the work.  But to have wisdom and understanding…I realized then that it was not just about how I felt.  It was the realization that something way bigger than me was upon me.  It was fear of the Lord that brought me to my knees.  Now…I don’t see how I could live without God’s Word.  Wisdom is our spiritual food found in God’s Living Word!  I urge you to grow more and more in the knowledge of the Holy One!

QT – Proverbs 7

Vs. 25, “Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.”  Here we see Solomon giving us wisdom about being seduced by the temptress.  Sin has it’s way of enticing even the most Godly person.  Here we have a young man walking through the streets and a beautiful woman attempting to bring him into her bed.  No matter how beautiful a person or things seem to be, nothing can truly hide its ugliness inside.

Regarding application…Seduction of Sin.  The application is far more than just a man and a woman tempting him.  The seduction of sin often comes in ways we minimize.  Take for example secular music.  It seems harmless and can be at times…but it seduces us to travel further into it.  Our ipod’s and MP3 players have more secular music than Christian.  The messages of the songs entice us to want to have relationships before we are ready, or more money than we need.  Sin seduces us.  The sin of pride and accomplishment can lead us away from a life lived for God and turn it into a life lived for the praises of other people.  Flee from such ways dear brothers & sisters in Christ.