Godly Leaders (Proverbs 25:1-7)

Do you hope to be a godly leader some day? Maybe among your classmates or friends. Maybe on your team or in your future career. Certainly you want to be able to lead your children when you are a parent. Or maybe you just want to know what kind of people you should follow. Today’s passage in Proverbs paints a picture of righteous leadership based on the ideal king of ancient times. Godly leaders recognize that their authority comes from God and that as humble servants of Christ, they don’t know everything (v. 2a). Such leaders seek wisdom and knowledge and persevere until they find answers (2b-3). They desire to know what is right and do it. Christ-like leaders hate evil and work to help others join them in turning away from sin (vv. 4-5). Finally, they value humility in themselves and others; they are aware of the constant dangers of pride and ask God to keep it far from them and those who they serve (vv. 6-7).

Take these words of truth today and let them sink into your soul. God wants more godly leaders in our school, and you could become one of them!

The Text (Proverbs 25:1-7)

1 These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied:

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

3 As the heavens for height and the earth for depth, So the heart of kings is unsearchable.

4 Take away the dross from silver,

And it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.

5 Take away the wicked from before the king, And his throne will be established in righteousness.

6 Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the place of the great;

7 For it is better that he say to you, “Come up here,”

Than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, Whom your eyes have seen.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you consider yourself a leader? If so, would others see you as a godly leader or a bad leader?
  2. What can you do this summer to start preparing yourself to be a godly leader among your classmates next school year?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Win With Wisdom, Not Violence (Proverbs 24:1-6)

Violence is not the way to go. Proverbs repeatedly warns young men not to join in with those who physically hurt others. Neither should young men or young women bully others with their words. Instead, wise Christians focus on knowing and doing God’s will. Our real war should be against sin and foolishness, both from the world without and our own evil hearts within us. The person who gets knowledge from God’s Word and other wise Christians and then lives by that knowledge – this is the victorious warrior of the Lord’s army. By wisdom, not violence, you will become strong and enjoy God’s blessings and favor. You will be kept safe from the bitter consequences that fall on others because of their troublemaking. The harsh results of sin might start small now, like getting pink slips or having a phone taken away. But the penalties of sin will get way more serious as you get older (think relationships ruined by angry outbursts, jobs lost because of being unable to get along with others, etc.) if you do not wise up and turn from the path of physical and verbal violence. Hear the words of wisdom today and pursue God’s fights by God’s methods. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and you will find abundant life and the peace of Christ.

The Text (Proverbs 24:1-6)

24 Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire to be with them;

2 For their heart devises violence, And their lips talk of troublemaking.

3 Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established;

4 By knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.

5 A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength;

6 For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you ever struggle with hurting or wanting to hurt others? Why or why not?
  2. When you have a difficult decision to make, do you seek advice from older and wise Christians? Can you think of a recent time when a more mature Christian tried to counsel you from God’s Word about your life? How did you receive this advice?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Beware the Love of Money (Proverbs 23:1-8)

Riches can be a great tool to use for God’s glory. Working hard and prospering in our labors are fulfilling ways to glorify God and help others. Wanting a career where you can earn good money to provide for your family and be able to give abundantly to your church and other ministries – this is a noble goal for all young people. But Proverbs warn us that wanting money just to have a lots of stuff for ourselves is a dangerous waste of our lives. It’s a pointless effort because when you die, all of your stuff will stay behind; you cannot take your material wealth with you to the next life. But it’s also dangerous because the love of money can ruin your soul. Jesus constantly warned people not to make a god out of riches because your heart only has room for one Lord – either God or stuff. Greed will cause us to lose concern for both God and our neighbors. For some, their greed even keeps them from seeing their need for eternal salvation (remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16?).

The main idea of today’s passage is found in verses 4-5. But verses 1-3 and 6-8 show us what happens to people who have devoted their whole lives to earning and worshiping riches. They become selfish, cruel misers (think Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”). We must be careful around such people because they don’t really care about you or anyone else; they only care about themselves and their money. Do you really want to become that kind of person? Then be on guard against every form of greed, for your life does not consist of the abundance of your possessions. Focus on loving God and people, and you will store up riches in heaven that will last for all eternity.

The Text (Proverbs 23:1-8)

1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you;

2 And put a knife to your throat If you are a man given to appetite.

3 Do not desire his delicacies, For they are deceptive food.

4 Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease!

5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

6 Do not eat the bread of a miser, Nor desire his delicacies;

7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you.

8 The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, And waste your pleasant words.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you struggle with greed and a love of stuff? Do you ever find yourself thinking more about your stuff than about Jesus and others? Would your friends describe you as generous or selfish?
  2. Do you know what kind of career you want to pursue? Is your choice based mainly on how much money you hope to make, or do you have other reasons for wanting to do that type of work? Have you thought about seeking God’s will for your future career?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Having A Good Name? Priceless! (Proverbs 22:1-5)

A reputation must be earned over months and years. It cannot be purchased with all the money in the world. Rich and poor alike, we are each only given one brief life by our Creator. We can choose to live a life that honors Him. We can choose to trust in the Lord each day and let Him produce humility and godliness in our soul. Who we are really becoming on the inside will eventually begin to show up in our many words and choices over time. If we keep choosing the path of life, we will earn a good name as a true follower of Christ. If we ignore the way of wisdom, we will continually walk into the pitfalls of sin. Through our bad choices, we will ruin our souls a little more each day. We are each slowly becoming someone. We are either becoming more holy and kind and loving like Jesus, or more selfish and proud and evil like Satan.

What kind of name are you earning right now? By trusting in Jesus Christ each day, you can continue to become the person God wants you to be. Then others will see God’s work in you, and you can testify with both your words and your name to the goodness of your Lord and Savior.

The Text (Proverbs 22:1-5)

1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

Loving favor rather than silver and gold.

2 The rich and the poor have this in common,

The Lord is the maker of them all.

3 A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,

But the simple pass on and are punished.

4 By humility and the fear of the Lord

Are riches and honor and life.

5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse;

He who guards his soul will be far from them.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you know your spiritual reputation? Do people think of you as someone who walks with Jesus? Why or why not?
  2. If you do not have a good name right now, what changes do you need to make this summer to start becoming more like Jesus and change your reputation at NRCA?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

The Way of Wisdom (Proverbs 1:1-7)

Welcome to our summer study of Proverbs! Today’s devotion will introduce you to the main theme of the book, namely that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It will be the last full-length devotion intended for homeroom use. Beginning next Tuesday, I will be posting shorter devotions on weekdays continuing through the summer corresponding with the days of the month. This Tuesday will be May 22nd, so you will be encouraged to read the first half of Proverbs chapter 22 and I will pull out a verse or two for explanation and application to help you learn how to read and grow from the this very practical book of the Bible. Wednesday’s post will be from Proverbs chapter 23, and so forth. I won’t post on weekends or holidays. Our prayer as teachers is that you will use these devotions or something similar to stay engaged with the Word of God this summer. As I told our 6th and 7th grade boys at lunchtime discipleship this week, Jesus taught in John 15:1-17 that He is the vine and we as Christians are the branches. If we want to continue bearing fruit like love and joy and peace in our lives, then we must continue to abide in Christ this summer. We abide or rest in Jesus by meditating on His book, the Bible, and trying to do what it says, by communing with Jesus in daily prayer, and by enjoying regular fellowship with other fruit-bearing Christians.

Since spring of last school year, I have been preaching and writing and laboring to help restore the fear of the Lord to NRCA. When I read our Class of 2023 spiritual surveys in March of 2017, I discovered many students who were very apathetic and lukewarm about following Christ. They didn’t care very much about knowing Jesus intimately and doing what He said, and what was really scary was that they didn’t care that they didn’t care. I was totally broken. After reading my own homeroom’s surveys at the end of Life Skills that first day of surveying, I remember weeping bitterly before God at my desk. The next day, I began to really watch how my homeroom students acted during the Thru the Word devotions that I played for them each morning. I became more broken as I watched these students ignoring and acting disinterested and unengaged during the teaching of God’s Word. I began to notice the many students sleeping, talking, laughing, and looking around during chapel preaching. I began to notice sinful words and actions in the hallways and cafeteria that were symptoms of hearts hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. I began to notice the many idols that our students were serving instead of the Lord. God showed me a lot of sin and idolatry in my own life. I realized that many of our students were in fact lost and did not even know it (Chair/Person 3), while others were backslidden or immature believers who knew the Lord but were not growing in Christ (Chair/Person 2). God convicted me very hard that we had a lot of fools unknowingly following the wide road to their own spiritual destruction. What many of our students needed was to be confronted with the biblical “fear of the Lord.” Our teachers realized that only the strong, “We-love-you-enough-to-punch-you-in-the-nose” preaching and teaching of God’s Word paired with lots and lots of prayer would help our students to turn from their sins, be healed, and find the narrow road that leads to life. We turned to the power of God’s Word and Spirit, and He has been answering our prayers through many public salvations and rededications, first in the Class of 2023 last spring and then in the Class of 2024 throughout this school year. There is still a long road to go for our school, but we believe that progress is being made.

Now, many students in theses upcoming 8th and 7th grade classes fear the Lord and are ready for the wisdom of Proverbs this summer. God has done the initial difficult work of heart changing by His grace. These students now want to love Jesus instead of sin. They now want to know and do God’s will. And in Proverbs, they can learn how this summer. As Proverbs 1:1-7 promises, these words of divine wisdom can warn us against the common sins and temptations that young (and oldish) people face. At the same time, the Proverbs will show us the better way of life that God has for us, a way of wisdom that God will empower us to walk in by the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts. My prayer is that studying Proverbs this summer will help our middle school continue to experience the truth that “the fear of the Lord” really is “the beginning of wisdom.”

The Text (Proverbs 1:1-7)

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:

2 To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding,

3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity;

4 To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion—

5 A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,

6 To understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Questions to Think About

  1. Have your ever memorized or studied verses from the Proverbs? What do you already know about this book of the Bible?
  2. Would you say that you take God more seriously now than you did a year ago? How can you tell?
  3. Do you want to act more wisely this summer than you did last summer? Why or why not?
  4. What is your battle plan to stay on track with Jesus this summer?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel