Many live marginalized lives when all of us can be blest of God and have His favor. Many look for secrets to His blessings and gifts. Many become angry at those who are enjoying life more than they are and become resentful at two levels: at God for His blessings to others and those who may have more than they do.

God has no secrets and no favorites. All of us have equal access to Him and His word. It is our choice as to whether or not we will take advantage of what He has to offer us. And, furthermore, it is our responsibility - if we choose - to seek his grace and goodness.

But there certainly are conditions. For example: “A man of perverse heart does not prosper, he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.” Here is a good starting point: is my heart clean and pure or perverse and deceitful?

God gives one reminder that we must never forget. What is in the heart inevitably comes out of our mouths. There is no way around that God given admonition. Our hearts are the center of our universe and what is in our heart is what we build our lives around; it is what drives us. So, if we bow to and worship money we will do whatever it takes to get it - even if it is a deceitful or perverse mind. The same would go for fame or power or prestige.

If God is not at the center of our heart something else is and that is what we will live and die for. There are many who want to have it both ways: do whatever to get whatever I want and give God his due - whatever we think it might be. That’s a perverse and deceitful mind.

Prayer:  This day, Lord, is the day of the year when we focus on “hearts.” May we look “inside” ours carefully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 17:20 One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper; one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble.

“You won’t find me in church! There are too many hypocrites that fill the pews. So, why should I go? They are no better than I am.” Most of us who do go to church have heard that phrase at one time or another. Most of us, however, don’t go to church because we are hypocrites, it’s because we’d rather not be one.

Most of us have a “check list” that lays out our personal differences between being a hypocrite not being one. For most of us it is a “personal thing.” We want our own definition to judge ourselves against others.

But, Solomon established the difference between being righteous and wicked. He removes any doubt for us: “Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”

If we love God, we will love what He loves and hate what He hates. Nothing complicated there. So, if God loves truth and honesty, pure living and obedience to His law, the righteous will, too. But, more than embrace what is righteous, they will avoid what is evil by guarding themselves against it. Righteousness does not mean Christians are passive, but active - involved in whatever it takes to avoid contact with behaviors God hates.

“Wickedness” here has an interesting meaning. It refers to “being deceptive to the point where the wicked act disgracefully and their behavior causes a ‘stink.’”' They see no reason to be concerned about what they are doing - but what they do will finally bring “disaster” - they will be overthrown. God will not allow wickedness to prevail!

Prayer:  Father, give us courage to take an obvious stand against that which is evil and do what it right! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 13:5 The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.