Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bible Study - Re-Finance (6) - Give Money Generously - Proverbs 11:23-29 - August 21, 2016

Bible Study – Re-Finance (6) – Give Money Generously – August 21, 2016

This is our sixth and final lesson in our series entitled “Re-Finance: Ancient Wisdom for Money Management.”

Our focus scripture is Proverbs 11:23-29.

Use what you have to invest in the lives of others.

In the Advanced Bible Study, summer 2016, pages 115-116, LifeWay, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0175, Dr. Duane Garrett, professor of Old Testament, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary provides the setting for our focus scripture as copied below:

(Dr. Garrett used the word “aphorisms.” Aphorism is a pithy observation that contains a general truth, such as, “if it ain't broke, don't fix it.”)

[Proverbs 11:23-29 is a collection of individual sayings or aphorisms. These aphorisms sometimes appear to be random, but actually they often form little groups.

Proverbs 11:23 and 27 forms what is called an “inclusion.” These two proverbs are similar to one another and thus create a virtual set of bookends, with verses 24-26 included between the two bookends. Verse 23 sets the desire of the righteous against the hope of the wicked. Verse 27, the other bookend, sets the person who searches for what is good against the one who looks for trouble. Because verse 27 in some sense echoes verse 23, it is a signal to the reader that these two verses are the brackets for a little collection of proverbs. Between these two, verses 24-26 all deal with the theme of generosity and open-handedness, as opposed to greed and hoarding.]

Let’s explore!

Let’s read Proverbs 11:23-27:

23 The desire of the righteous [turns out] well, but the hope of the wicked [leads to] wrath.

This scripture is the first bookend. Notice the desire or the attitude of the heart of the person who is in right relationship with GOD through faith in GOD. Such a relationship, until the coming of JESUS, was based upon ritual which reflected a person’s faith in GOD. Since the coming of JESUS, (HIS birth as a human, life, death, resurrection and ascension) we know that our faith in JESUS is the gateway to GOD. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
21 He (GOD) made the One (JESUS) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Also, keep in mind what JESUS said in John 14:6:

6 Jesus told him (Thomas), "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Righteousness means to be in right standing or relationship with GOD which is faith. First, a person must believe that GOD is real. It is not any god but the One True GOD as revealed in the Bible. The Bible is the revelation of GOD on an ever ascending scale culminating with JESUS as the promised Messiah. The resurrection of JESUS is proof that JESUS was and is the promised Messiah. 

The passion of JESUS paid, in full, the penalty for sin and opened the gateway to GOD for all who will place their faith in JESUS. Faith in JESUS and what HE did on the cross, atoning for our sins, makes us (Those who place their faith in the passion of JESUS) righteous (2 Corinthians 5:20). Thus Christians have direct access to HIM through the miracle of rebirth in our spirit. But all must first go through CHRIST to be cleansed by HIS shed blood which GOD declares us righteous before HIM. That is GOD’S plan and rules out anything we can do on our own to be acceptable to GOD other than accept what JESUS did for all who place their faith in JESUS.

Today, we have this full unveiling of knowledge. When this proverb was written there was knowledge of GOD and what it meant when they trusted GOD as they walked with GOD by faith.

In contrast to the righteous, there was knowledge that those who did not place their faith in the One True GOD encountered HIS wrath.

The righteous trust GOD, whereas the hope of the wicked leads only to wrath. Those not being in right relationship with GOD hope in themselves or self-sufficient that somehow they will earn the right to get to Heaven. But they will only experience the wrath of their decision.

This leads us to examples of what has been stated in verse 23 as referenced in verses 24-26.

24 One person gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor.

The words, “gives freely” means to “scatter.” The person who “gives freely” scatters his or her gifts in many different directions which reflect his heart. This giving nature reflects a trusting and confident nature that GOD provides because of being in right relationship with HIM, which not only extends to others through their ministry but gives the assurance that GOD will take care of those who give.

 A person who has this giving heart “gains more.” Does that mean they gain more material possessions or the satisfaction because they are obediently serving GOD and meeting the needs of others? It could be a combination but here we must be cautious. If we have the attitude that we give in order for us to get more, something is wrong and we need a Spiritual checkup. When we give, the Bible is clear that there is a return, which can be defined in many ways other than getting more resources. Certainly one way is the satisfaction of obediently serving our LORD and the unspeakable joy it brings.

The flip side is the stingy person withholds his or her resources thinking he or she will have more for himself or herself only to find that he or she has become poor. The stingy person could be poor in the joy of obediently serving because he or she is missing out on obediently serving others and gaining the satisfaction that only GOD gives in recognition that all we have comes from HIM. If we hoard, when life is over, we will leave it all behind. Only what we do in obedience to GOD will result in heavenly treasure. Obedient sharing and giving, as led by the Holy Spirit, helps us to grow more in our relationship with GOD because we see our LORD meeting our needs both physically and Spiritually.

This next example addresses the generous versus the stingy.

25 A generous person will be enriched, and the one who gives a drink of water will receive water.

This to me helps define “generous.” Some people can give much and others not as much, as reflected in giving a drink of water. The point being, regardless of the size or nature of the gift when it is given, as GOD leads us, it is pleasing to GOD and does not go unnoticed by HIM.

JESUS stated it well in Matthew 10:42:

42 And whoever gives just a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple -I assure you: He will never lose his reward!"

Never moan that you have nothing to give. Opportunity surrounds us every day. It is not the size of the gift but the obedience to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

JESUS taught this in Luke 21:1-4:

1 He (JESUS) looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury.

2 He also saw a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins.

3 "I tell you the truth," He said. "This poor widow has put in more than all of them.

4 For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on."

We can live longer without food than we can without water. Water is vital to sustain life. JESUS is the living water that is vital to every person upon earth. 

We who are Christians contain this living water which we can share with others with whom we come into contact each day. Will we?

Let’s continue with our lesson scripture in Proverbs 11:26:

26 People will curse anyone who hoards grain, but a blessing will come to the one who sells it.

This example deals with those who have and are unwilling to sell what is needed by others for fear they may not have enough. We may have been wise and foresaw a need coming and we planned for it. It came to pass and we have plenty but we are unwilling to sell it to others for fear that we may need it. We do need to lookout for our needs and the needs of our family. But when we see that we have enough to meet our needs we need to sell our excess. Doing so honors GOD and shows our trust in GOD that HE will supply all of our needs. 

Those who hoard because of fear they might need it incur the hostility of those in need. Such an attitude does not honor GOD as depicted in the Old Testament or JESUS as Christians represent in today’s world.

This leads us to the last bookend, which reflects verse 23.

27 The one who searches for what is good finds favor, but if someone looks for trouble, it will come to him.

We all know or have known people who look on the Brightside of life. They can turn lemons into lemonade. Circumstances may not change but they do not let whatever has befallen them continue to control them. By the same token, those who look for gloom and doom will surely find it.

Let’s read Proverbs 11:28-29:

28 Anyone trusting in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage.

Riches can breed self-sufficiency. Just because a person is wealthy does not mean he or she will fall. It is trusting riches that has the potential to become the problem. Often, those who are self-sufficient do not need GOD but those who are in right relationship with GOD flourish, regardless of their wealth. 

This does not necessarily mean they will always have monetary resources but they will have the wealth, joy and satisfaction that come from obediently serving GOD. Trust in GOD breeds confidence in all aspects of living. It allows a person to roll with the punches because he or she fully trusts GOD to meet his or her every need.

I have known several very wealthy people who used their wealth in such a way that they tried not to let their left hand know what their right hand was doing. In other words, they attempted to minister, as led by the Holy Spirit, in secret. Having the right relationship with GOD is vital in the management of your household.

Flourishing foliage gives the impression of a well nourished plant that gets the right amount of sunshine, water, cultivation and nutrients, which produces strength to resist pest, blight and good fruit. Such is the picture of those who have the right relationship with GOD through faith in CHRIST.

It is likely many of us have either observed or known families who have appeared to be Godly and their children have not turned out very well. We must keep in mind that GOD made us with the right to choose. Our role as parents is to raise our children up as GOD desires but it is their right to choose. But a key verse that many Godly parent or parents have to hang onto is found in Proverbs 22:6:

6 Teach a youth about the way he (or she) should go; even when he (or she) is old he will not depart from it.

My wife and I hung onto this verse and saw it fulfilled.

29 The one who brings ruin on his household will inherit the wind, and a fool will be a slave to someone whose heart is wise.

What does it mean to inherit the wind? The wind is an invisible force. We can see the effects of the wind which can be beneficial or wreak destruction. If we attempt to catch the wind, we come up empty handed. In this case, the wrong lifestyle and attitude of a person within a household, be it parent or child who does not have the right relationship with GOD, can wreak ruin on his or her family.

Those who live a self-directed life as opposed to a GOD-directed life can bring ruin on their household. When they live a self-centered life, they are not walking in the will of GOD.

Those who live foolishly will become the slave of the wise. An ungodly lifestyle has consequences not only upon the person but also upon his or her family.

Be wise and place your life into the hands of the One True Living GOD by placing your faith in JESUS the CHRIST and live in obedience to the Holy Spirit as HE leads and directs your life. Salvation is just the beginning of a wonderful journey hand-in-hand with both GOD and CHRIST. Be Wise! Walk in step with GOD by building an intimate, loving, personal relationship with HIM. Blessings!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bible Study - Re-Finance (5) - Invest Money Wisely - Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 - August 14, 2016

Bible Study – Re-Finance (5) – Invest Money Wisely – August 14, 2016

This is lesson five (5) in our series entitled “Re-Finance: Ancient Wisdom for Money Management.”

Our focus scripture is Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

When it comes to your money, plan and invest wisely.

All people or at least most of us like to make wise investments. At the moment we invest, we believe it is wise. Time will tell. Bad investments often teach us a valuable lesson; don’t do it again or teaches us what to look for when we do invest. Living teaches us. GOD is wisdom and HIS desire is for HIS children to have such a relationship with HIM that HE is the ONE we go to for counsel.

Some may say but I went to the LORD for counsel and things did not turn out like I expected. I have been there and done that. I said, “But LORD, I asked YOU for guidance and wisdom in this matter and it failed.” Do you know the answer I received? “How else will you learn wisdom?” Ouch! I never anticipated that answer. 

But most of us, if not all, have baggage from many different sources. Some comes from our ancestry. Some decisions come from the lifestyle and upbringing of our family during our formative years and the circumstances of our parent or parents. There are many natures and habits we have that cause us to make certain decisions. Some are good and others are reactive and not based upon sound judgment. Often, many of us have rough edges that have to be honed to get us to the point where we can make wise decisions.

Many of us have heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. We often fail to learn from our mistakes.

Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon to spare future generations from the bitterness of learning through life’s experiences. The key is all humans are to build the right relationship with GOD and seek wisdom from HIM. Ecclesiastes focuses upon certain key issues such as:
Ecclesiastes 6:8:

8 What advantage then does the wise man have over the fool? What [advantage] is there for the poor person who knows how to conduct himself before others?

Life is filled with uncertainties for both the wise and the foolish.

Ecclesiastes 9:2:

2 Everything is the same for everyone: there is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so it is for the sinner, as for the one who takes an oath, so for the one who fears an oath.

The bottom line is that all humans die. SO what do we do between life and death? What we do is in our control. We are free agents. Where do we go to for wisdom? GOD is the source for all wisdom. It makes sense to seek the right relationship with HIM through faith in CHRIST. Why JESUS? JESUS said it best in John 14:6:

6 Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Is JESUS the only way to GOD or HE was a liar, lunatic or the True Promised Messiah? It is your decision to make. Without a doubt, I believe JESUS is the only way. Why because HE gave HIS life for all who will place their faith in HIM. Experience the miracle of rebirth in your Spirit by asking JESUS to forgive you for your sins and for HIM to come into your life now. Experience the joy of being GOD’S Son or Daughter and knowing that you have eternal life now and into eternity. When you make this decision, thank HIM for saving you and then tell a Christian friend what you have done. Blessings to all who seek knowing JESUS as their Savior.

Ecclesiastes 9:18:

18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much good.

The bottom line is that although wisdom is powerful, wisdom does not dictate the outcome because of the many variables which can alter the course of events.

So what can we learn from our lesson?

The bottom line of Ecclesiastes is for all to honor, respect and reverence GOD. GOD’S desire is for humans to use their resources wisely by seeking the right relationship with HIM and applying the wisdom that they learn through this relationship. Part of this relationship is for HIS children to invest wisely.

Ecclesiastes reflects a period in which trade and international contacts were common. There was money to be made but also it was a time when money could be lost. It was a time when those who were wise could do very well and those who were foolish could lose all they had.

Let’s explore!

Let’s read Ecclesiastes 11:1-2:
Invest in Life – Don’t Put All Of Your Eggs Into One Basket

1 Send your bread on the surface of the waters, for after many days you may find it.

2 Give a portion to seven or even to eight, for you don't know what disaster may happen on earth.

Not putting all your eggs into one basket was a common phrase with which I grew up. My grandfather raised chickens and the hens laid eggs. We harvested the eggs for us to eat and to sell in the grocery. When we gathered the eggs, we did not place them all in one basket. Simply, if we tripped and fell we ran the risk of breaking some of the eggs, if not all of them. Eggs were important to our family therefore we were to act responsibly to protect them.

Ancient wisdom instructs us to diversify. Most, if not all, advisors today tell us to diversify because we simply cannot know all of the variables which can influence our investments both positively and negatively. Ancient wisdom reflected this advice.

Therefore, cast your bread upon the water and send it in many directions. You will lose some but others will come back to you.

The idea was that goods were shipped both by sea and land. When you split up your goods and send them by several different routes you reduce the potential for total economic disaster. Storms at sea could result in your cargo being lost. If you ship by land, the caravan could be attacked and your goods taken by thieves. Therefore, select seven or eight different ways to ship your goods and hope that some, if not all, will result in you receiving the money you hoped to receive from them.

Trade during the life of Solomon flourished but you had to be wise when you sent your goods to other locations. Diversify your investments and be patient to see what returns to you. But even here one has to be careful. Things change and what works one time needs to be carefully evaluated to determine if it is still viable. Again, diversify.

Let’s read Ecclesiastes 11:3-4:
Misfortune May Arise But Keep Working

3 If the clouds are full, they will pour out rain on the earth; whether a tree falls to the south or the north, the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.

4 One who watches the wind will not sow, and the one who looks at the clouds will not reap.

Verse 3 is a maxim. A maxim is a short pithy statement expressing a general truth or a rule of conduct e.g. actions speak louder than words.

The reference to the clouds or the tree in verse 3 represent the potential for rain or the tree landing where you want it to land. Whether or not the potential will be beneficial to you and your plans will be determined after the fact. You can plan but once action has been taken the results are out of your hands. Thus, one decides whether or not to plant or harvest based upon the potential for rain or it not raining. One cuts a tree which he or she has planned for it to fall in a certain direction but once cut the potential is for unknown factors to change its direction but once fallen then you have to deal with it. Life is filled with uncertainties, but in all of your dealings, seek wisdom from GOD and trust that HE will see you through all circumstances, good or bad. HE teaches in all circumstances and HIS love for you is unfailing.

Verse 4 describes a person who is too cautious. Procrastination can be very harmful. It pays to be cautious but there comes a time when as the old adage states “either fish or cut bait.”

In the old days farmers sowed seeds by hand. They would broadcast their seeds by casting them such that they fell randomly on the plowed field. If the wind was blowing hard they would wait because the seeds would be carried by the wind to only heaven knew where they would fall. Therefore, when it was very windy, it would be wise to wait but also one could not wait too long and the time to plant may pass them by.

When harvest time came, grain had to be harvested at the right time. The harvested grain had to be tied in bundles to dry so it could be thrashed. If the bundles were harvested when wet they could spoil and rendered of no value. They could mold. A judgment had to be made and a chance taken. Again, the idea is for the farmer to seek wisdom from GOD and choose the right time to harvest.

Most, if not all, decisions come from limited knowledge. We do our best when we seek GOD’S help but even then things may not turn out like we would hope for.

Does this mean that GOD has failed us? No, when things do not turn out like we think that is when we go to our LORD and ask HIM to reveal to us what happened. If it was to teach us then we need to learn the lesson well so that it will not be repeated. If it was to test you, then may the test do its intended work! Life upon earth is a training ground for eternity. Life is a partnership with GOD through our relationship with CHRIST.

All Christians must keep in mind the teaching of JESUS as written in Luke 11:11-13:

11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish?

12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"

We must also keep in mind that we can make bad decisions and when we do we must suffer the consequences. But even when we do, GOD is in all things to bring about the best conclusion as written in Romans 8:28:

28 We know that (GOD is in) all things work (ing) together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Things do not control GOD but rather GOD controls all things. But certain decisions we make have dire consequences but even when they do, GOD is working in our behalf.

Let’s read Ecclesiastes 11:5-6:
Life Is Uncertain, So Leave It All In GOD’S Hands

5 Just as you don't know the path of the wind, or how bones [develop] in the womb of a pregnant woman, so you don't know the work of God who makes everything.

Life is filled with uncertainties but we are not to let that prevent us from taking the action we need to take. We need food and resources to sustain us. Weather can be a formidable foe to the farmer, to maritime and to caravans. Yet, life goes on. These uncertainties are out of our control but always under the control and authority of GOD. Bad things happen to Godly people but GOD is their strength to see them through these times.

Reproduction is a mystery. We know more about it today than ever before and it is a miracle that all the complexities of embryology take place in an orderly fashion to produce a healthy baby. Sometimes fetal development jumps track but because it does, we trust that they will go according to plan, thus, most couples long for an offspring. 

6 In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hand rest, because you don't know which will succeed, whether one or the other, or if both of them will be equally good.

The reference to morning and evening refer to times and seasons. The point being we, from our perspective, do not know what will succeed or fail. We seek wisdom from GOD and move forward. If what we do does not turn out as we expected, we learn from it and move on armed with this knowledge. Being in partnership with GOD equips us with the resource to succeed. Most of us equate success with wealth but success, in GOD’S eyes, is building a personal, intimate, loving relationship with HIM regardless of the success as defined by the world.

The bottom line is that we do not know what will succeed or fail but with GOD’S help and our due diligence we will succeed because building the right relationship with GOD through thick and thin builds trust in HIM.

Copied below comes from, Herschel Hobbs Commentary, summer 2016, pages 117 and 118, published by LifeWay, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0175.

[Thus, the study this week falls into that category of practical, real-life instruction. When it comes to our money, how are we to act in responsible ways that are satisfying and God-honoring? We have identified three steps we can take.

First, act sensibly. That is the message behind the admonition to diversify your investments. Even if you don’t have a lot of money and have not made actual investments in stock, don’t be foolish with what you have. Use good common sense.

Second, act diligently. We don’t have the answers to everything and we can’t foresee the future to the degree we would like. Nevertheless, rather than sit idly by, take action; keep working with what you have. Do your due diligence.

Third, act faithfully. We cannot understand all the things happening around us nor all that GOD is doing to bring HIS plan to fulfillment. Nevertheless, we can continue to follow HIS instructions for daily living and trust HIM to bring eternal purposes to pass. Thus, keep the faith.

This section ends with a beautiful prayer:

Father, there is so much I don’t know and some of what I know I don’t understand. Help me not to be so consumed with knowing that I fail to be trusting. I will do my best with what I have, but foremost, I leave all things in Your hands. Amen] Blessings!!!  

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Bible Study - Re-Finance (4) - Manage Money Diligently - Proverbs 31:13-21 - August 7, 2016

Bible Study – Re-Finance (4) – Manage Money Diligently – August 7, 2016

This is lesson four (4) in our series entitled “Re-Finance: Ancient Wisdom for Money Management.”

Our focus scripture is Proverbs 31:13-21.

Act responsibly with what GOD has given you.

We saw in last week’s lesson that Wisdom in Hebrew is a feminine noun, thus referred to as “she” in some verses. This is a thought to consider as we study this lesson, is the woman referred to in our focus scripture an actual woman or does woman refer to wisdom and can apply to either gender?

Clearly this proverb emphasizes the importance of not being a slacker and the reward of planning, organization, intelligent use of resources, application without hesitation, hard work and so much more. Let’s explore!

Proverbs 31 is a poem of wisdom. It is an acrostic poem, which means as written in Hebrew that each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. As an example, if it had been written in English then the first letter of the first verse would have been “A” and the first letter of the second verse would have been “B” and so forth.

Proverbs 31 reflects the sayings of King Lemuel in an oracle his mother taught him. We do not know much about King Lemuel. His mother was giving him wise instructions regarding the ideal wife.

Proverbs 31:10-12:

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

Was this one woman or a portrait of the ideal woman? It is likely a portrait of the ideal woman which I think is applicable to either gender. The poem of wisdom contains good sound advice and instruction for life application. The person practicing these principles is not a slacker as we studied in last week’s lesson but one who is motivated, a self-starter, well organized, shows the way, is a leader and the list goes on.

This person has a good knowledge base upon which to build as noted in verse 13. She has been well trained in the attributes she needs to deal with life as we note that “she selects wool and flax” and then she knows what to do with these raw materials. She increases their value by turning them into useful products. She is a visionary that turns her visions into reality.

Let’s read Proverbs 31:13-15:

13 She selects wool and flax and works with willing hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from far away.

15 She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and portions for her servants.

This ideal person or she knows how to select good materials and converts them into useful products. She does not have to depend upon imports for her to have what is needed. She makes her own products during the time it would take for the merchant ships to bring them to her. Plus, what she makes is exactly what she needs, fits those for whom she is making them, saves money because each handler of the goods coming via merchants has a markup, plus those for whom she is making her products get to use them without having to wait on a ship or someone else to bring them to her.

But in order to accomplish these needs she has to be diligent in her work. She plans, organizes and gets up before anyone else to get done what needs to be done. She is no slacker.

She has servants but she is the example for her servants and her household to follow. She directs the activities of her household and the servants in her household. She is a good delegator. She delegates and when she does it is not resented because she is working as hard as or harder than those she is managing. The balance in her life suggests that she understands the needs of others and is not overbearing. Yet, she does not put up with goofing off and can spot such an attitude in a heartbeat. She will step in and say take a break when someone under her responsibility needs a break. Balance is the key. As the old adage states, “an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”

She is intelligent because she has paid attention to those who make wise decisions. She has likely asked questions of those who are good role models. She has accepted the wise and rejected the foolish. She is focused as we read on.

List below and copied from Herschel Hobbs Commentary, summer 2016, page 103, LifeWay, Nashville, TN are some lasting truths from Proverbs 31:13-15:

[We are to be enterprising, creative, and industrious with the assets the LORD gives to us.

We have an obligation to use our assets to provide for our families.

Working to provide for those entrusted to our care is to be considered a blessed privilege, not a laborious obligation.]

This last statement is a challenge to all leaders and entrepreneurs to run the business the LORD has entrusted them efficiently. It may mean making hard decisions when the market or times get tough. Would those in-charge be willing to take less in order to keep the business they have been entrusted to run in order to keep their employees working? Some have done this.

Let’s read Proverbs 31:16-17:

16 She evaluates a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard with her earnings.

17 She draws on her strength and reveals that her arms are strong.

The attributes of this ideal person highlights the need for knowing how to evaluate a number of areas necessary for living and managing a household. She knows how to spot a good purchase when she sees it. She evaluates the opportunity and makes the purchase. She sees the potential for her purchase. It could be to flip the land and use the profit to plant a vineyard on land she already has or to use her purchase and plant a vineyard. What she has she turns a profit.

She is willing to do what is necessary to turn her purchase into something that is prosperous because she is not afraid of hard work.

List below and copied from Herschel Hobbs Commentary, summer 2016, page 104, LifeWay, Nashville, TN are some lasting truths from Proverbs 31:16-17:

[Our purchases need to be evaluated in terms of prudence, purpose, and potential – not whim, envy, or peer pressure.

Wise investments or purchases are those that have potential to be productive and to provide for our future.

We are to prepare ourselves for our work by strengthening ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually so we can give our best to its accomplishments.]

Let’s read Proverbs 31:18-21:

18 She sees that her profits are good, and her lamp never goes out at night.
She manages the things under her control. She is a self-starter and a hard worker. She manages what she has under her authority.

19 She extends her hands to the spinning staff, and her hands hold the spindle.

She spins wool and flax, raw materials, into useful items. She adds value to the things under her control. Yet, her success and focus has not resulted in her having a hard heart, as we read in our next verse.

20 Her hands reach out to the poor, and she extends her hands to the needy.

What she produces reaches beyond her needs and the needs of her family and servants but to those who are poor and needy. With the same diligence she approaches work; she also reaches out to the poor and needy. This character reflects her heart toward fellow humans and her relationship with GOD.

21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all in her household are doubly clothed.

Her diligence, planning and organization reflects the fact that she does not have to frantically deal with the unexpected e.g. when the weather suddenly changes she has it covered. Pre-planning is a good thing. She is prepared for the rainy days when they come.

List below and copied from Herschel Hobbs Commentary, summer 2016, page 106, LifeWay, Nashville, TN are some lasting truths from Proverbs 31:18-21:

[We are to use our assets in ways that we find pleasing, not in a vain way, but because we know we have given our best.

We are to look for ways to use our gifts and abilities to bless our families.

As we are able and have opportunity, we are to extend our effort beyond our households to the community by ministering to others at their point of need.]

What are some unexpected things that can come along and how can we be prepared for them?

Considering the wisdom expressed in the wisdom poem, what have we learned? What do we need to do to put what we have learned into action? Can we use this wisdom poem to teach our children, grandchildren and others? Do we practice these principles in our lives?

So what does this have to do with being a Christian? JESUS said it well when HE tells those who have placed their faith in HIM as the Messiah that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Christians are to reflect HIM is their lifestyle. This can only be accomplished by allowing the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and empower our lives as Christians. All Christians are sinners saved by GOD’S love and HIS grace. All that we do must reflect HIM in our lifestyle – how we manage our homes, finances, leisure time and our careers. We are to work as unto the LORD and reflect HIM. I witnessed this in a man who did some work for us recently. He had an amazing work ethic. How are we viewed by others? What we do often speaks louder than what we say. May the words of our mouths match our hearts!

Have you asked CHRIST to forgive you of your sins and for HIM to come into your life? Keep in mind that religion is man-made whereas being a Christian is CHRIST in you. HE gave HIS sinless life just for you to be forgiven of yours sins and to be born anew into GOD’S family through the miracle of rebirth in your spirit. The sin barrier was broken by HIS shed blood which paid the price for the original sin and opened the path from GOD to mankind and vice versa. GOD made every human with the freewill to choose. We are upon earth not by chance but by design. Where were we before we were conceived? I contend that we were in the heart and mind of GOD as the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:4:

4 for He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love

All are chosen but it is up to us to accept. The choice is yours and mine to make. Will you accept HIS invitation to become HIS Son or Daughter by accepting JESUS as your Savior? In doing so, your will be born-again in your spirit into GOD’S Family through the miracle of spiritual rebirth and the eternal life GOD intended for all is restored. There is but one way and JESUS said it best in John 14:6:

6 Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Satan would have us to believe there are many ways to GOD. Be wise and pay attention to what GOD’S Only Son had to say. Accept CHRIST as your Savior now and experience the miracle of rebirth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit Who confirms the fact that you have been born anew into GOD’S family.

Godspeed as you grow Spiritually and learn of HIM through an intimate, loving, dynamic, personal relationship. Just as a new born person must be fed and nurtured to grow into an adult, so will you as a child of GOD. Study GOD’S Word, the Bible and talk to HIM, prayer, and put into action what HE teaches you. Ask HIM to help you find a church where you can be fed the Spiritual food you need to grow Spiritually. You are now grafted into the true vine as JESUS taught in John, Chapter 15. Study the Gospel of John.