When I was the senior pastor of the Good Shepherd Pentecostal Holiness Church in Birmingham, I invited my congregation to attend the Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar every year conducted by Bill Gothard at the Birmingham Civic Center, within walking distance of our downtown church. He taught us that we could read through the Book of Proverbs in a month. There are 31 Proverbs. He, also, taught us that we could read through the Book of Psalms in one month by reading five (5) chapters each day. There are 150 Psalms in the Old Testament. For years, I did both every month. What an enriching experience, and I found it easy to do.
So, today, I want to introduce you to the Book of Proverbs, the wisdom book in the Old Testament. The Book of James is known as the wisdom book in the New Testament. The Book of James was written by a half brother of Jesus.
Now, let us get started.
3:1 Don't Assume You Know It All
Good friend, don't forget all I've taught you; take to heart my commands. 2 They'll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well.
3 Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. 4 Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.
5 Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. 6 Listen for GOD's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He's the One Who will keep you on track. 7 Don't assume that you know it all. Run to GOD! Run from evil! 8 Your body will glow with health,your very bones will vibrate with life!
9 Honor GOD with everything you own; give Him the first and the best. 10 Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. 11 But don't, dear friend, resent GOD's discipline; don't sulk under His loving correction. 12 It's the child He loves that GOD corrects; a father's delight is behind all this.
13 The Very Tree of Life
You're blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom,when you make friends with Madame Insight. 14 She's worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary. 15 Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. 16 With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition. 17 Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete. 18 She's the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her. Hold her tight — and be blessed!
19 With Lady Wisdom, GOD formed Earth; with Madame Insight, He raised Heaven. 20 They knew when to signal rivers and springs to the surface,and dew to descend from the night skies.
21 Never Walk Away
Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don't for a minute lose sight of them. 22 They'll keep your soul alive and well, they'll keep you fit and attractive. 23 You'll travel safely, you'll neither tire nor trip. 24 You'll take afternoon naps without a worry, you'll enjoy a good night's sleep. 25 No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday's just around the corner, 26 Because GOD will be right there with you; He'll keep you safe and sound.
27 Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God's hand for that person. 28 Don't tell your neighbor, "Maybe some other time," or, "Try me tomorrow," when the money's right there in your pocket. 29 Don't figure ways of taking advantage of your neighbor when he's sitting there trusting and unsuspecting.
30 Don't walk around with a chip on your shoulder, always spoiling for a fight. 31 Don't try to be like those who shoulder their way through life. Why be a bully? 32 "Why not?" you say. Because GOD can't stand twisted souls. It's the straightforward who get His respect.
33 GOD's curse blights the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the righteous. 34 He gives proud skeptics a cold shoulder, but if you're down on your luck, He's right there to help. 35 Wise living gets rewarded with honor; stupid living gets the booby prize.
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)