A Little Bit
Read This Passage: Proverbs 15:15-18
Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure with turmoil. —Proverbs 15:16
IT NEVER CEASES to amaze me how relentless the media are when it comes to reporting on celebrities. You would be hard-pressed to find a news show that doesn’t devote at least a segment to the latest info-tainment story on the rich and famous. What’s the cause of this media focus? The answer unfortunately is supply and demand. Society wants to hear these stories. Did they break up? Are those two really together? How many times will she lose custody of her kids? We want to know! Camp is great because you don’t have to worry what’s going in the media. It’s your chance to get away from the “real world”.
As a youth leader, I asked one of the girls in my youth group if her friends get wrapped up in celebrity news and gossip. I expected (or hoped) the answer would be no. Much to my disappointment, her answer was “Oh, yeah!”
So why do we care? Society envies those who seem to have everything—money, fame, beauty. But “everything” without Christ is not everything it is cracked up to be.
Proverbs 15:16 has something to say about that. In God’s eyes, true prosperity doesn’t lie in things; instead, it lies in a focus on God and the things He values. The writer of Proverbs is quick to say that it’s much better to have a little and live in a way that honors God than to have all the treasures of the world and a life filled with turmoil. The treasures of the world simply can’t fill the holes in our lives. Only God can.
Think of the turmoil that these rich newsmakers—the ones in need of Christ—go through. Remember, there is nothing wrong with money, but it is no substitute for the fulfillment only found in Christ. You may have little by the world’s standards, but you’ll be rich in God’s eyes if He alone is your treasure.
Take stock of your life. Keep a log of the things you buy or the activities you devote your time to. After a few days, take a look at your findings. What does your life say you’re chasing: God’s treasures or the world’s? What changes do you need to make?
Take a look at Matthew 16:26 as you reflect on today’s message. How do these verses challenge you?
Lord, thank You for everything You have given me. I praise You for Your faithfulness.
Read This Passage: Proverbs 13:8-11
Wealth obtained by fraud will dwindle, but whoever earns it through labor will multiply it. —Proverbs 13:11
A FEW MONTHS ago, I went to work for a marketing firm. The job was much different than they let on during the interview process. As it turned out, the owner of the company was using unethical techniques to obtain employees. He did this because he was able to make money off of people working for him.
In today’s world, many people don’t want to work to earn their living. They’d rather do whatever is easiest, even if it’s fraud or something that’s not quite illegal, but not right either.
In today’s passage, God told us that wealth obtained by fraud will “dwindle.” For months the owner of the company I worked for made a great deal of money through fraud and dishonesty. Then everything fell apart. The owner lost his business and his income.
In this world, there’s an obvious need for money to survive. But ask yourself just how important money and riches are. In terms of eternity, are they worth lying and cheating to obtain?
God has called us to earn our living, and sometimes that’s hard work. But He respects and blesses that. In the end, it’s worth it.
Father, help me make decisions in my life that reflect You. Keep me accountable for my actions.
Free for All
Read This Passage: Proverbs 11:24-26
One person gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor. —Proverbs 11:24
AS I STOOD in that foreign country, my ears full of indecipherable language, my North American view on life began to deteriorate. There I stood, sweating in the 100 degree heat of the Nicaraguan jungle, reevaluating every idea I’d ever had about wealth. I thought I understood poverty, but I didn’t really, not until I went to Nicaragua and met people living in it. I was in the heart of one of the poorest countries on the globe, meeting people who had nothing. And it was there that I met some truly rich people.
In Nicaragua, I met people who -literally had nothing. Many didn’t know where their next meal would come from. Though most had next to nothing, they lovingly offered our mission team what they did have. These people who had so little wanted to give it to us, who had so much.
As Christians, that spirit of generosity should also characterize us. As today’s key verse says, when we give freely to others, whether we have a lot or a little, we gain. We have a peace that we know we’ve done what is right and satisfaction that we’ve allowed God to work through us. When we don’t give and know it’s right to do so, we only rob ourselves.
Father, renew my heart and redefine wealth for me. I thank You for all I have, and what I have, I offer to You.
Whatever You Say
Read This Passage: Proverbs 26:23-28
A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth causes ruin. —Proverbs 26:28
GOD DOESN’T HOLD anything back, does He? Verses like Proverbs 26:28 cut straight to the heart. The point is clear. Lies and flattery will never accomplish God’s purposes in our lives. They will only bring problems, pain, and in the end, they’ll ultimately bring ruin.
Proverbs 26:28 is today’s key verse for a reason. You’ve read a lot of devotions about the power of the things you say this week. The point of all this is that you understand this important truth: to live life successfully God’s way, your words matter. Scripture tells us that nothing good comes from lying, and false flattery sabotages trust and leads to ruin. Our words shouldn’t hide thinly veiled deception.
God has called us to live a life of truth. Sometimes, that truth hurts. But when we look at ourselves honestly, we will be more real with Him and with those we care about.
It’s so easy to build a world of lies around us. We tell small lies to our parents, our teachers, and our friends. And we think that’s OK because they’re just little lies. Not really even lies—we just make things sound a little better than they are. Or we make them sound a little worse than they were, so that we come off looking better.
God doesn’t let us off the hook so easily though. He looks right through us and sees what we say as truth or lies with no middle ground. As Christians, truthfulness is supposed to be a characteristic of our lives and our speech. Does it characterize you? What about your words?
You may know someone with whom you’ve not been honest. Has God put it on your heart to go and tell that person the truth? What will you do?
To whom do you need to tell the truth? Are you willing to step up and be honest in your relationships regardless of the cost? How have lying and false flattery affected your life?
Read John 14:6. Who is described as the truth in this verse? How important is the truth in your life?
Ask God to show you areas of your life that lack truth. Seek to know what He would have you do about those areas.
Fueling the Fire
Read This Passage: Proverbs 26:20-22
Without wood, fire goes out; without a gossip, conflict dies down. —Proverbs 26:20
FIRE CAN BE an incredible thing. It can warm you up when you’re cold. It can be beautiful to watch as it sparkles in the darkness. It can be fun to just sit and watch as the embers drift toward the sky.
Yet, if you’re not careful, a fire can easily get out-of-control. Let a few embers drift to a dry spot, and before long you have a fire that’s consuming everything around it. All of a sudden what once seemed enjoyable is destructive and scary. In the end, it will leave damage that may take a very long time to repair, if it can be repaired at all. Fire is not something to play with. Fire has a lot of power, and power can become destructive.
Gossip is just like a fire. Oh sure, it may seem innocent and fun at first, but before long, we’ve spoken words that we cannot take back. Gossip hurts people, damages reputations, breaks the community in a cabin, and breaks trust.
Just as Proverbs 26:20 points out, a fire will go out if there is nothing to fuel it. Gossip works the same way. If there is no one there to keep pushing the rumors, feeding the desire, or otherwise fanning the flames, gossip will die down, and so will the conflict and destruction that go along with it.
Today’s key verse points out that we have an active role in stopping this destructive cycle of gossip and conflict. We can choose not to fuel the fire; we can choose to keep our mouths shut!
Choosing to not participate in gossip, walking away, or even confronting those who are gossiping can be tough. You may face ridicule or even rejection from those you count as friends. Yet, when you do what God’s told you to do, He will bless you. You will grow in your walk with Him, and you’ll be a better friend.
Will you choose to follow God’s leading when you hear others participating in gossip? Why or why not?
Read John 21:20-23. Even Jesus’ disciples struggled with gossip. Can you find any other examples of gossip and how we should deal with it in His Word?
Take time to confess any gossip you have participated in. Ask God to show you what He would have you do and to help you stand strong when faced with opportunities to participate in gossip.
Life and Death
Read This Passage: Proverbs 18:19-21
“Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” —Proverbs 18:21
THINK ABOUT TWO friends who are alike in every way. They hang out together, shop together, wear the same clothes, and eat the same foods.
At the same time, they’re also so different. One always seems hopeful, confident, ready to face what she must. The other is quiet, almost scared, fearful of saying or doing the wrong thing. What makes them different? Words. The words that have been spoken to them have made the difference in their lives.
When we encourage those around us, lift them up, pray for them, and remind them of how special they are to God, it gives them strength. When we see those same people and choose to slam them, criticize, or make fun, we take away what we have no right to take away.
Our words are powerful. Stop and think about that. Your words are powerful. You can build someone up, or you can tear him or her down. As a follower of Christ, what will you choose to do?
Proverbs 18:21 says it so clearly. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. We can build people up, show them Christ, and be a living example of love and grace. Or we can spend our time and our words tearing others down. Words sometimes do more than hurt people; sometimes they destroy them. Think about the terrible things people have said to you—the things that stick in your mind and repeatedly convince you that you’re not worth it and that God couldn’t love you.
God created the universe using only words. If God created the universe using the power of words, how carefully should we consider our words?
Think about the things you’ve said today. Did you bring life or death to those around you with your words?
Read 2 Timothy 2:14-16. What is irreverent, empty speech? How many of the things you say would fall into that category?
Ask God to remind you of the importance of your words before you speak them.
An Apple a Day
Read This Passage: Proverbs 25:8-12
A word spoken at the right time is like golden apples on a silver tray. —Proverbs 25:11
I HAVE A good friend named Candy. She is someone who really loves Jesus, and her life is proof of it. When I’m having a bad day or am feeling discouraged, I know if I call her she will know just what to say.
You see Candy does two things when she talks to people. She points them to Jesus, and she reminds them of how special they are to Him. She is the kind of friend I want to be. Candy knows the power of words and wants hers to bring honor to God and those to whom she’s speaking.
Today’s key verse, Proverbs 25:11, isn’t about knowing the right thing to say in every situation. Most of us don’t always know what to say. And there are -situations in life when there is absolutely nothing to say. Today’s key verse is about the power of our speech. When we follow God’s leading, filter our words with prayer, and allow Him to speak through us, we’ll speak the right words at the right times.
We each have the opportunity to follow God’s leading in our relationships. His Word is clear; He has called us to love others and to point them to Him. The problem is, we get busy with our own problems, or we just forget what really matters in life. To be the friend others are drawn to, we must make some very real choices in our lives. We must choose to spend time with God every day. We won’t lead others to Someone we don’t really know.
We must also pray each day, asking God for His leading in every part of our lives. Then, when He tells us to slow down and take time for someone, we must do what He says! In the end, it will be worth it.
Take a look at your life. Do your words point others to Him? Why or why not? Do you allow Him to speak through you?
Read John 4. How did Jesus’ words change the Samaritan woman’s life? How did her words have an impact on the people in her community?
God, help me to see those around me in the way that You do. Help me to allow You to speak through me.
Keep Your Cool
Read This Passage: Proverbs 17:27–18:2
“The intelligent person restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a man of understanding.”
OPEN MOUTH. Insert foot. That’s me. I have this horrible habit of talking, then thinking. After about a million words that I can’t take back, I’m learning to be quiet more often and think carefully about what I say. I’m still not there. In the heat of the moment, I’m still more likely to spout off than practice restraint.
Proverbs describes the person who restrains his or her words as intelligent. I want to be considered intelligent! Don’t you?
There’s a lot of truth in today’s Scripture passage. Losing your cool and saying whatever you want in a fit of anger rarely ends well. It is easy to do that at camp when you are around your peers for at least two weeks straight. As a Christian, saying whatever you want, no matter how justified and especially in anger, isn’t always the best example of Christ. Restraint goes a long way, and Scripture clearly honors those who keep a cool head.
What situations do you get into that cause you to speak first and think later? The next time you are in those situations, carefully consider what God would have you do before you speak. You may be surprised at what He shows you!
Ask God to teach you to guard your tongue and be more wise when you speak.
Sweet as Honey
Read This Passage: Proverbs 16:23-25
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body.” —Proverbs 16:24
THINK ABOUT that person in your life with whom you love to talk. Maybe you spend hours just talking. This is the person in your life to whom you turn when you need advice, help, or just someone you trust to see the situation clearly and respond honestly. This is the person whom you trust to tell you the truth, even when it hurts. Conversations with him or her leave you feeling better, more focused, and enlightened. These people seem to have learned the secret of keeping their words right on track with God and what He’s doing.
What about you? When someone walks away from a conversation with you, do they walk away feeling blessed or stressed?
That’s why today’s key verse in Proverbs is so powerful: it speaks to us about situations we face every day. And it’s oh-so-easy to let spiteful, hateful words spew out of our mouths without a second thought.
It’s amazing what happens when you stop and think about what to say before you speak. Our words have an effect, and we should consider that. Filter what you say through prayer. Just ask God to help you, even in that split second before you start talking. Let your words bring glory to Him! Let them be as sweet as honey.
Ask God to give you just the right words to say when you talk to others.
A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. —Proverbs 15:1
KEEP YOUR COOL. Stay calm. Relax. All of these are words or phrases that most of us don’t want to hear when we‘re angry or frustrated. Because we’re human, we want to say what’s on our minds, even when we know we’ll probably regret it as soon as the words fly past our lips.
Has that ever happened to you? It has to me! In the moment, why is it so much easier to say the things that may hurt than it is to be quiet, stay calm, and carefully consider our words before we say them?
Taming your tongue and learning to think before you speak, especially in anger, is a tough lesson to learn. And most of us learn it through experience. Think about the times when you’ve lashed out and your angry words brought regret and broken relationships. Then consider the times you’ve been on the receiving end of hateful, venomous words. They hurt, and they probably made you angry.
That’s why today’s key verse is so important, especially when we talk about relationships. Gentle answers bring peace, strengthen relationships, and show consideration for the person to whom we’re speaking. If we will choose to look at each person we encounter as someone God might have us minister to, care for, and love, we might choose to treat them differently.
Responding in gentleness and love takes discipline and practice. It also takes God’s help. Not everyone we meet is easy to love. You know those people in your life who just know how to frustrate you? Look at them from Jesus’ perspective, then treat them in a way that shows them His love. Even our words should point to God. Do yours?
What situations cause you to get angry? How can you remind yourself—before you speak—to be the one who brings a gentle answer? What can you do now to prepare for these situations?
Read through John 18. As Jesus was being betrayed, what are some examples of His choice to respond with a gentle word? How does His example challenge you in your daily life?
Ask God to show you the areas you are more likely to speak a harsh word than a gentle word. Pray that He would help you be an example of Him, even in your speech.