Thursday, June 30, 2011
"Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” Proverbs 30:5
The Word of God is an amazing gift we have been given by God. As it claims of itself, “Every Word of God is flawless”. It is without error or flaw. The Word of God has an amazing ability to protect and become a refuge for any who would hide themselves in it. Just about any Christian home in America has several copies of it. Multiplied millions of Christians around the world claim allegiance to its precepts. Thousands of books have been written in study of it and millions of sermons have been preached on it. I dare say that millions of Christians would die to protect the integrity of it. I have heard it said, “I can find 1,000 men who would die for the Word of God for every 1 man that will actually read it!” Yet for all of our claimed allegiance to it, for all of our bluster, few really read it (and obey it) as it is.
So the question needs to be asked, “If the word of God is so amazing, why don’t we obey it?” Also, “If the Bible is so wonderful, why do we feel the need to add to it?” Now, I obviously don’t have a problem with digging into scriptures and pouring through them, unlocking their meaning and how it applies to our lives. But what I do have a problem with (and God does too) is adding to what God has already said. Many churches and ministries, even ministry and bible schools have a set of core values that in many cases supersede the Word of God in priority. They are defined not by what the Word of God says about them, but by what they say about the Word of God.
“Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” – Proverbs 30:6
We are in an age of increased knowledge (Daniel 12:4) and these days, among the wise and learned in Christendom, there is a belief that in addition to the scriptures you need a “special” revelation of the scriptures to live the life that God intended. This is the basis of Gnosticism and was prevalent in the early church. It’s a destructive heresy that takes the emphasis off of the Word of God and onto our understanding of the Word of God. Maybe people don’t want to be defined by the Bible because the Word of God is serious business!
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” – Hebrews 4:12,13
Let us not get our identity from our understanding of the Bible, but FROM the Bible.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
“The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” Proverbs 29:15
Dirty hippies are everywhere. They have even invaded the church of God! They should be run out of town on a rail by people who love and believe the BIBLE, but instead they are celebrated and empty headed, ignorant masses follow them, unknowing that the road they are on leads to destruction! From the beginning, God has given us SPECIFIC instructions on how to discipline and raise our children, yet dirty hippies everywhere rage and scoff against the clear dictates of scripture! These days, if you discipline your kids, you are a Cro-Magnon, unenlightened dolt. Well, call me what you will, but I am responsible for my children’s salvation until they reach the age of accountability. I won’t stand by and let Dr. Spock, Dr. Phil and Oprah tell me what is best for my children. I certainly won’t let some left coast pastor who has embraced the spirit of this age and writes nice shiny books on the subject tell me that corporal punishment is tantamount to violence! I will love my kids “on purpose” AND Discipline them! God has weighed in on the subject and I will listen to Him!
The self-help mantra of dirty hippies everywhere basically teaches us that children, deep down, know what’s best for themselves and are capable of making good decisions on their own. How wrong can you possibly be and still breathe?! To leave a child to themselves will ultimately lead to disgrace. And that is one of the many things that I love about life. In the end, time will tell. Time ALWAYS tells. You can argue while you are under construction, but when the building is done, EVERYONE will see what you created! If you have neglected the discipline of your children and opted to manipulate their every little decision, at best they will grow up to be master manipulators, at worst, I will visit them for you on Saturday nights when I go to the prison. Mom, it’s going to be real difficult to smugly assert your “enlightenment” when your evil, undisciplined MONSTER grows up and embarrasses your family name.
To avoid egg on your face TOMORROW, discipline your children TODAY.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
“He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” Proverbs 28:26
The man that trusts in himself, even in his own experience, knowledge or learning, is a fool. This proverb is important because many who seek wisdom sometimes start to think they have arrived. They think that because they have sought wisdom in the past, there is no need to seek out and search for wisdom in their present or future. All throughout the word of God, especially here in Proverbs, Wisdom is always standing outside of us, calling to us:
“Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares;” – Proverbs 1:20
We don’t see and aren’t encouraged to look for wisdom from within, but from without. She calls to us and we answer her call. As we dialogue with her and give ourselves to understanding, we begin to receive the wisdom we need. But the minute we shut ourselves off from outside influence and begin to think that we have everything we need in and of ourselves, we’re in trouble.
Mature Christians are dependent people. We are called to be utterly dependent on the Lord. Many in the Western church are trained almost from birth to esteem self-sufficiency. Even in the “enlightened” Charismatic church, we teach people o live for God without God’s help! But I hate to tell you, the Christian life is a co-dependent relationship. We lean HEAVILY in the Lord; we trust utterly in the voice of the Spirit of God and build our lives around His words. Once we do this we do become possessors of divine power, insight and revelation, but it’s important to remember where it came from. Even Jesus recognized this fact:
“Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” – John 5:19
Just in case you think that’s a typo:
“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” – John 5:30
I think we get the idea that God fills us with His Spirit and with His Word and then leaves us out there, naked, cold and alone. NO WAY! He offers Himself freely, but we are to live every day in recognition of who is in us and working through us. Jesus told us to live the same way as He did:
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5
Trust in yourself and you will fall, walk with Wisdom and you’ll be safe!
Monday, June 27, 2011
“He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who looks after his master will be honored.” – Proverbs 27:18
This proverb highlights an important principle in the Kingdom of God. If we will give ourselves to doing the job we were created to do, God will make it His priority to care for our needs. In the same way that the man who looks after and tends to the fig tree has the right to eat of its fruit, we have access to the provision of God when we give ourselves to doing His will.
“So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:31-33
God’s promise to us is that if we will give ourselves to seek FIRST His Kingdom and righteousness, He will make it His business to provide for all that we need! Then why is it that so many Christians let their ENTIRE lives be consumed with the procurement of their personal needs? And we wonder why we have so little evidence of the Kingdom in our lives! Maybe it’s because instead of seeking the Kingdom, we are seeking our own personal needs? We are doing God’s job (providing for our needs) and asking God to do our job (seeking the Kingdom). The order in the Kingdom is this Seek First the Kingdom & Righteousness, then God will provide! I can’t tell you how many times that I have heard believers say that if they can JUST provide for their needs, THEN they could seek the Kingdom! That’s worldly wisdom, not the Kingdom!
This proverb tells us that if we look after our master, we will be honored. That word for honor there is the Hebrew word “Kabod” and it is the word in the Bible used to describe the Glory of God! We are told that if we will care for our Master we will receive honor. Isn’t that what we are here for? We are called to worship the Lord and serve Him with our lives! As we do, we will be filled with His glory and receive honor and praise from where it counts, HIM! But most Christians neglect their Master (Jesus) and seek their own honor. We’ve got it backwards!
Seek your own honor and you get dishonor. Seek HIS honor and you’ll be honored. Seek your own provision and you neglect the Kingdom. Seek His Kingdom and HE will GIVE you His provision!
Friday, June 24, 2011
“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.” – Proverbs 24:11
We are called to rescue those being led away to death and those staggering towards slaughter. There is simply no other reason that Jesus would save our souls here on earth and then leave us here until He comes back or we go to see Him! We who have been saved are called to save the lost. Salvation is not a personal thing, it’s a global thing. Selfish believers are ones that keep the glorious grace of the Gospel to themselves and don’t share it with the lost and dying around them. This Gospel only works as we pass it on. What we have been given, we are to give!
“As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” – Matthew 10:7,8
We have been freely given the Gospel, to NOT freely give it away is madness! I have heard Atheists exclaim, “If I believed in an eternal hell, how much would I have to hate someone to not give my life to warn them from impending disaster?!” It’s true, our apathy concerning the Gospel is proof to the world that either we don’t really believe in an eternal Heaven/Hell or love the world enough to tell them about it! It’s one thing to share the Gospel and be rejected. It’s another thing entirely to neglect the sharing of the Gospel for fear of rejection. We as believers need to overcome our fear of men and embrace the fear of God. It’s way scarier to me to deal with the Face of God in eternity than to deal with the face of men here in this temporal world.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
This constant recognition that God is watching our lives and knowing our motives and that ultimately we will be held accountable for what we do (or don’t do) is called the Fear of God… and it’s a good thing! The rest of this Proverb tells us precisely that:
“If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” – Proverbs 24:12
You can fool yourself and pretend that it doesn’t matter what you do in this life, but deep down, we know the truth… don’t we??
Thursday, June 23, 2011
“Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you.” – Proverbs 23:10,11
This Proverb encourages us to not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless. We’re told that their Defender is mighty and he will take up their cause against us. So what does this mean and how do we apply it today?
In ancient times, when lands and properties were granted or territories were divided, they would set out stones to mark the boundaries of the land. These stones were large and heavy; they were difficult to move and stood the test of time. Generations would pass and the boundary stones would remain as a quiet reminder of the boundaries set generations ago. To “move an ancient boundary stone” is both literally and metaphorically speaking to us. Today, the application would primarily be metaphorically. The Proverb is telling us to not attempt to change an ancient boundary, law or principle.
Take marriage for example. From the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, God instituted marriage between a man and woman. It was established this way before we walked the earth. For many generations, thousands of years in fact, the institution of marriage has been celebrated, respected and honored. But in our generation, many think they have become “enlightened”. They think that if a man loves a man or a woman loves a woman, they should be able to marry. Right now it’s actually being seriously considered in many states to allow gay (homosexual/sodomite) marriage! This is concerning because if this happens, as a nation we are allowing an ancient boundary stone to be moved. You can guarantee that the Defender (Redeemer) of this ancient way will be taking up the case against our nation!
The “fields of the fatherless” speaks of the property and possessions of those that can’t defend themselves, orphans, widows and the like. To overpower them simply because they are disadvantaged and do not have the power to fight back is demonic. This happens every day as greedy corporations or city governments’ walk all over the rights of the widows, orphans and the poor. I have watched the “beautification” of Atlanta over the last 15 years and am appalled at our city’s treatment of the poor and the homeless/fatherless. It’s true, they can’t defend themselves so they make an easy adversary in court, but they DO have a Defender: His name is Jesus! You mess with them and He will mess with you! This reality should cause us to think very carefully before taking advantage of the poor and disenfranchised. Just because we CAN doesn’t mean we SHOULD. This applies corporately, in businesses, governments and even personally.
Gay marriage is an abomination to God and a blatant relocation of an ANCIENT boundary stone. You can quote me on that.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” – Proverbs 22:3
The simple or foolish are a lot like the Energizer bunny; they keep going and going and going. Even when the road ahead is clearly fraught with danger and destruction, they press in and press on their foolish course. It’s not that they don’t know which direction they are headed, they just keep going! I believe that many of us in our foolish idealism feel that “if only they knew” they would do something differently. Think of the political climate today. Our lawmakers honestly believe that if they give the American people more knowledge, they will stop doing stupid stuff like smoking, drinking to excess and having unprotected sex.
The nature of sin is illogical. Think of Adam and the woman (she wasn’t given the name Eve until AFTER they had sinned), they had this idyllic environment and very few restrictions. In fact, they only had one “Don’t eat of the tree in the middle of the garden”. Having knowledge that eating the tree would lead to death, they still ate! Why? Because sin is deceptive! It’s confusing and it blinds us to simple truth:
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” – Hebrews 3:13
In our culture, we worship knowledge. We believe that knowledge is power. In truth, having knowledge is much better than not having knowledge, but as this scripture describes, it’s not ignorance that leads the simple to destruction. They know that the road is dangerous but they don’t change course.
The prudent man on the other hand sees the danger ahead on the path he is taking and CHANGES COURSE. He does a little course correction and takes refuge from the impending disaster. This is his salvation. The wise application of knowledge is infinitely more powerful and effective than the gathering of knowledge. I would rather have one guy with a small amount of applied knowledge than an “expert” who has never applied one thing he learned! The church is fool/full of these kinds of people today! We have adopted so many of our wicked and depraved culture’s values that we truly exalt knowledge above action.
What we know is only as effective as what we do with what we know.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
“The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” – Proverbs 21:1
Many times I have read this verse and thought that this scripture is talking of those in great levels of authority and power. People like Kings, Presidents and Prime Ministers. It’s true, this scripture does apply to those in great power. God can touch and change the affections and cares of our leaders as this scripture describes. But today while reading this verse, I believe God was showing me more. Doesn’t God call US, His people, Kings & Priests?
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” – Revelation 1:5,6
“And You made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign over the earth.” – Revelation 5:10
Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus can sometimes be scary and here is a reason why. When we, His people dedicate our lives, our resources and our affections to the Lord, he takes them! When we “give our hearts to Jesus” that is really what we are doing! We give Him the power to direct our affections, desires, dreams and ambitions. I have talked to believers who the Lord has called and directed their hearts to:
• Give their lives in Africa, India & Mexico
• Give their lives taking care of widows and orphans
• Sell everything & spend themselves completely on behalf of the poor
Now, I am not one of those people that believes in the inherent good of man. I think that most people are bent on taking care of themselves, not helping others. But something happens when we encounter the Lord and trust Him with the affections of our hearts! He will take a selfish, self-serving person and transform their heart into one that is completely laid down in service to others! This is what happens when the lord directs the course of our hearts as HE pleases.
Many folks take/give personal credit for a heart directed by HIM.
“The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.” – Proverbs 20:7
This passage could also be translated: “The just and lawful man walks continually in innocence, integrity and prosperity, his children are left with a legacy of happiness, honesty and righteousness.” Many people today, especially men, are almost obsessed with leaving a financial inheritance for their children. This is good, to a point. The Bible tells us:
“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous.” – Proverbs 13:20
So being wise with our finances is important. It’s best to give our kids a “leg up” on their future. Starting them on the right foundation with their finances is important. Training them to understand simple concepts like spending less than they make and how to invest their money is important. But even more important is laying up for them an eternal inheritance, that’s NOT made with money! Think about it, what is a financial inheritance without integrity? Didn’t the Prodigal Son get a crazy awesome inheritance? But without a conscience or integrity, he blew it ALL on whores and wild living in no time at all! How would you like to see your decades of hard work go up in a puff of pot smoke like that? This makes me respect the response of the Father even more! He came RUNNING to his kid that had squandered decades of HIS hard work. Amazing!
So giving my kids a financial inheritance would be nice and I will do what I can to that end. But an inheritance of righteousness is even more important. It is my ambition to give my children the most precious inheritance of righteousness and integrity. They are going to watch their parents spend themselves completely on the Lord and His purpose for our generation. I’m going to teach them what a laid down life looks like. I’m going to show them a working model of a righteous life. They will know what it looks like to live a “blameless life.” Because my concern is an eternal inheritance, I may not be able to give them a huge financial inheritance, but what I will give them will be more valuable than a fully matured CD or fully funded IRA.
Not all inheritances are made of money. Those kind actually pay out more at death than cash.
Friday, June 17, 2011
“A wise servant will rule over a disgraceful son, and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.” – Proverb 17:2
There is much talk in the body today about our sonship in Jesus Christ. This is a good thing and a deep truth. Many teachers had come before Jesus, but Jesus was the only one to call Himself a son and claim that God was His Father. We ARE called to be sons of God in Christ Jesus, walking in the same power and authority of our older brother:
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” – John 1:12,13
We are also called to serve God. One revelation does not destroy another! Jesus was the ultimate example of an empowered son who serves:
“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." – Matthew 20:26-28
Yet many believers flaunt their new-found sonship with a sense of pride and air of superiority over those poor peasant Christians who are still working for Jesus as servants. Even worse, many are using their “sonship” as a cover up for a fleshly, carnal lifestyle. Whenever they are called to account for their unspiritual behavior, out comes the “I’m a King’s Kid” excuse. This Proverb shows us that it would be better to maintain the role and mentality of a faithful servant than pervert the reality of sonship. Now, I don’t think that because many have perverted the truth we need to overreact and walk away from the revelation that we are in fact Sons and Daughters of the King! But what we do need to understand is that it would have been better to faithfully serve as a servant than to claim sonship in disgrace. In fact, the wise servant walks in greater authority than a disgraceful son.
If we are to err, it would be better to err on the side of faithful servant hood than it would disgraceful sonship. This is because a son is the pride of His Father, He carries the family name and represents His Father to the world. In the same way we are called to carry the family name and carry on the Father’s business of reconciling the world to the Father.
Lots of disgraceful sons look down their noses at faithful servants, not knowing that this mere “servant” just took their inheritance!
Thursday, June 16, 2011
“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!” – Proverbs 16:16
In these uncertain economic times, every other commercial I have seen on TV is telling us to invest in gold. The thinking is that when and if our currency fails, gold will be a safe haven to invest wealth in. It’s true, holding hard currency like gold or silver seems like a good idea when our paper money is being devalued. But the Word of God has an even better investment strategy. Instead of storing up gold and silver, the word of God tells us to lay hold of and possess wisdom and understanding.
The primary writer of the Proverbs was Solomon. Solomon knew more than anyone that wisdom and understanding were better than silver and gold. When he was a young man, he had an encounter with God where the Lord came to him and basically asked him “what do you want?”
“At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." – I Kings 3:5
Solomon could have said “wealth” because politically speaking, wealth is power. Solomon could have asked the Lord to wipe out all his enemies or to give Him unlimited power, but he did something altogether unexpected:
“Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. "Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" – I Kings 3:6-9
Solomon asked for a discerning heart, to understand right from wrong. He asked for Wisdom. This request pleased the Lord. So much in fact that God gave him MUCH MORE than he had asked for:
“The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life." – I Kings 3:10-14
You see, Solomon understood what we often forget. Wisdom is supreme. Understanding is vital. Without it, we are rudderless and our lives have no context. What is a rich man without morality? What is a wealthy nation without principles? Possessing wisdom and understanding gives us access to all the wealth and prosperity we need!
If the dollar collapses and our economy and country falls into ruin, I would rather have wisdom than a block of metal.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
“A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” – Proverbs 15:18
I’ve read this proverb many times before and I think that I am just now seeing what its saying! This Proverb could be translated; An angry man that is poisoned with rage meddles with and stirs up strife and discord, but a man who is patient and long suffering brings a sense of calm and settles a controversy wherever he goes.
The hot tempered man brings that atmosphere wherever he goes. He can walk into a room and suddenly strife and controversy will appear. If there is dissension or unease under the surface, he brings it to the forefront. As I read this, I am thinking of a couple people I have known in my life that had this affect wherever they went. You could be in a group of people and everyone could be getting along just fine until this person walks in. Suddenly the atmosphere in the room is charged with controversy and before you know it, sides have formed and the peace that was once there has long since retreated. I’ve worked on many teams, from home groups to worship teams to ministry teams and the person with anger in their heart manifests anger in their relationships.
In the same way, the person who is patient and long suffering can step into a room or heated situation charged with anger and bring calm. The same calm that abides in their spirits manifests in the room! It’s always been my desire to be that kind of person, as I have seen the power of this proverb in action. Patience and long suffering benefits the person who has it as well as everyone that person comes in contact with. In the same way, the short tempered and angry person suffers in their anger, but they also bring others into that same suffering! Basically, we bring others into the atmosphere that we carry in our spirits. If we are at peace, we bring peace wherever we go. If we are depressed and anxious, we bring that stuff with us!
Now, there is a time and place for controversy and confrontation, but the purpose is always restoration! People that never confront anything normally have LOTS of gnarly stuff going on just beneath the surface. But people that are always stirring up controversy and debate without ever getting a resolve are just a problem.
What do YOU bring to a situation? Calm or Chaos?
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” – Proverbs 14:1
Oh man, this Proverb is LOADED. In my last 99 posts, I have talked extensively of the foolish man and the wise man. We’ve even talked of the lady we call Wisdom and the lady we call Folly. But here another two women are mentioned; the wise woman and the foolish woman.
Here we find the wise woman doing what wise women do, BUILDING! The wise or prudent woman builds up her house. This word for build means to make, to obtain children, to set up and interestingly enough, to repair. So we find the wise woman doing all of these things to her own house. She is laying hold of and obtaining children. Why? Because children are a blessing! Any mentality that tells us that children are a burden is pop psychology and rails against biblical wisdom. Sure enough, children are a huge responsibility and not to be taken lightly (I have 3 of them) but they are amazing! Don’t let anyone tell you differently! We also find the wise woman making and setting up her home. She works diligently to make the home a place of nesting and resting. She creates a place of nesting for her as she creates an environment and atmosphere that supports life and peace in the home. She creates a place of resting for him to rest and recreate after exposure in and among the world.
Lastly, we find her repairing the home. She’s repairing the home because stuff breaks! Relationships break down, the kids need adjustment and the marriage needs constant work. Instead of talking against her marriage, her home, her finances, the wise woman gets busy repairing the problem!
Now the foolish woman is another story altogether. The foolish woman tears her OWN home down! The word for “tear down” means; to pull down, break in pieces, ruin, destroy, overthrow and beat down. The foolish woman doesn’t respond well to adversity. When the marriage starts to break down you can hear her badmouthing her “idiot” husband. When the kids are out of control, instead of working diligently to discipline and correct them, she runs her mouth about how “bad” they are and how she can do nothing for them. When finances are tight, instead of pinching pennies and being frugal, she complains and moans about how much better it would be if she married a doctor or a lawyer. The worst thing about it is that she is tearing down her own home!
As her once beautiful home crumbles all around her, you can see the foolish woman gripping a sledgehammer whilst standing over a pile of rubble, LOUDLY wishing her husband would have done more to save it.
“He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.” – Proverbs 13:13
Everything we do in life is a choice. I abhor the idea that we are simply slaves to and powerless over our circumstances. This mentality creates a culture of victimization and makes deliverance from the circumstances nearly impossible. No, the truth is that we have power to affect our circumstances. In circumstances that we can’t control we at least have the power to affect ourselves and our reaction to circumstances. We are powerful people!
Many people look at the circumstances of their life, whether it’s relational difficulties or financial difficulties and forget that they had choices in the creation of such circumstances. The person that’s in debt up to their eyeballs or struggling to make payments on their house often forgets that they signed on the dotted line and made a covenant to pay X amount on the X day of the month at X interest rate. But when that bill comes due, all of a sudden, we develop amnesia, forgetting our commitment! Or consider the person that’s struggling greatly in their marriage. Very rarely do people suddenly overnight sprout a serious disorder or sin pattern. No, more than likely it was discovered maybe during the engagement or when they first started dating, or even early in the marriage. Many folks, afraid of confrontation don’t bother to deal with such things in their infancy hoping they will just go away. But when they come to maturity, say 5, 10 or even 20 years in the marriage all of a sudden we act surprised!
The truth is we made a choice. A choice to not confront TODAY is a choice to deal with the repercussions TOMORROW. Likewise, a choice to confront TODAY is a choice to blunt the effects TOMORROW. We all make choices. This proverb describes such a process: It tells us that the person that despises and loathes correction, instruction and rebuke will suffer greatly. Another translation says that they will be destroyed. This Hebrew word also means bound, offended and to writhe in pain. This is the fruit of a choice. A choice to scorn instruction is a choice to hurt. In the same way, a person that chooses to respect a command or heed instruction is choosing to be rewarded.
Taking responsibility for our lifestyle, relationship and financial choices may seem like a difficult task. But suffering the effects of bad decisions as a victim is MUCH worse.
Own your failures. Admit them and make a CHOICE to overcome them.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
“The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.” – Proverbs 10:22
This is an amazing scripture and also an amazing observation. I’ve seen so many people working for the blessing of the Lord, increasing their hours each week they are working, increasing their responsibility to attain God’s blessing and favor. The only problem is that isn’t God’s blessing! When God blesses us, He simply adds to what we are ALREADY doing. We see an increase in production, effectiveness and income WITHOUT added toil or energy being expended!
But first, let me qualify that… We are all called to work diligently and with excellence. Is this because we just love our boss or company? No, it’s because we are truly working for the Lord, not men.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23,24
Some people are just lazy and don’t work diligently or with excellence. When they begin working diligently, there is an increase in production and hours or energy. When they see God blessing this effort, they associate blessing with hard work. Yes, we need to work hard and work diligently, but the nature of God’s blessing is that it comes WITHOUT added toil or energy being expended. I can always tell when God is blessing me because I am not doing anything additional to earn it!
The word trouble here is translated: sorrow, grievous toil and even “idol”. This is important that we understand this! Many folks begin their quest for the blessing of God when the Lord gives them a promise that He is going to bless them! When it doesn’t happen in their time table (and it never does) often folks are prone to work hard for what God has promised freely! With us, when God promises blessing and that blessing seems delayed, we are tempted to “help him out” by working more, starting a new business, becoming a real estate investor or stock market analyst, etc. forgetting the very nature of God’s blessing: “He adds no trouble to it.”
It was the same way with Abraham, God promised to bless him dramatically. When the blessing didn’t materialize, Abraham figured he would help God out a bit by sleeping with his maidservant, Hagar. That effort produced Ishmael, not Isaac. Isaac was the child of promise, Ishmael was the product of Abraham’s fleshly effort.
Virtually ALL of the conflict in the Middle East today comes from the enmity between Ishmael and Isaac. I wonder how much of the conflict in our lives is due to us “helping” God bless us?
“The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge.” – Proverbs 9:13
Wisdom is a woman (Proverbs 9:1), but so is Folly (Proverbs 9:13). Wisdom cries out (Proverbs 1:20), but so does Folly (Proverbs 9:15). One leads to life, prosperity and honor, the other to ruin. So how do we tell them apart?
The woman Folly is loud… Proverbs 9:13
Some of the loudest voices out there are the ones trying to lead you straight to hell. Volume is no indicator of who is right. It’s amazing, I see it every day on Facebook, people that have NO business instructing others violently, loudly and forcefully hammering their stupid opinion home on the unsuspecting and simple. The simple listen to Folly because she’s the loudest voice in the room. But remember Elijah? The Lord came to Him in a still, small voice. Wisdom many times comes in that still, small voice in the back of your head. Or sometimes she comes and warns you with a small warning in your spirit, you don’t feel right about a particular decision. Wise people listen to those promptings, the simple charge forward over their violated conscience to certain destruction.
She is undisciplined… Proverbs 9:13
The voice that speaks to you about your life, but has no power to change her own is a LIAR. Again, Folly will offer her opinion over the glaringly bad example of her own inability! An undisciplined life is the first sign and signal that what she’s saying is WRONG. Wise people are disciplined people. Foolish people are marked and identified by a LACK of discipline. So, am I saying that we should be offering our opinions until we have a degree of mastery in the area we are offering them? YES! But Folly completely ignores her own personal failure and offers you her advice that has produced the mess she now resides in. The examples are too numerous to mention: the woman with undisciplined kids offering child rearing advice, a fat person offering diet tips or one of my favorite, a broke person with financial advice!
The woman Folly is loud, undisciplined and without knowledge. Biblical knowledge is more than information, it’s the application of information. We think because we have HEARD something that we are DOING it. This is a profound deception! The woman Folly KNOWS information, she just doesn't do them. If she did, she would be quiet and get some discipline in her life.
“Listen to me, the loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room!” - Frank Lucas
“For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death." – Proverbs 8:35,36
The person that loves wisdom and finds her (she’s a chick) finds life and receives favor from the Lord. The pursuit of wisdom is not a casual thing; it should be one of our chief life goals, to lay hold of wisdom and understanding. The benefits of knowing and understanding lady Wisdom are manifold and are revealed again in this passage; life and favor! People that find wisdom and possess understanding are truly alive! They aren’t living for themselves, but for the betterment of others. They aren’t selfish and self-centered but outwardly focused and God-centered. They understand the fear of the Lord and this governs their actions. It has been said:
“The glory of God is man fully alive.” - St. Irenaeus
I believe this is true. God is most glorified in us when we thrive in His life. To achieve this kind of life, we must lay hold of wisdom and the fear of the Lord. Favor is the delight of God upon our lives. When we lay hold of wisdom, God smiles upon us. He is blessed when we are blessed! I love that we serve a God that is fully engaged in our prosperity, blessing and glorification!
This proverb tells us that the person that does not find wisdom, loves death and harms himself! That’s harsh! When we don’t lay hold of wisdom and the fear of the Lord, either through passivity or simply ignoring her when she calls, we harm ourselves. I have told people for years that God’s ways are not made for His benefit only, but for ours! Many people seem to think that the Lord is a cosmic kill joy, stopping them from doing fun things they want to do. But that’s not so! When God forbids something, He does so for our benefit! By not laying hold of wisdom we harm ourselves. By simply not pursuing her, we show that we love death instead of life. Now who wants to stay there?
I love Wisdom because I love life and enjoy God’s favor. You?
Thursday, June 9, 2011
“Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.” – Proverbs 7:24,25
This proverb is obviously talking about the adulteress. The writer gives us a detailed account of what motivates the adulteress and then also expounds on the mindset of the young lad that falls to her ways. Probably the most gripping part of the Proverb is the end result of falling into adultery:
“Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.” – Proverbs 7:26,27
Truly this is a result we want to avoid! But also interesting to note is what leads to this final end:
“Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.” –Proverbs 7:25
Many times before our ACTIONS change for the worse, our HEART turns to wickedness. Our heart is the epicenter of our spiritual life and the engine of our actions. When our hearts turn to the Lord, our righteous actions reflect that turning. In the same way, before people start DOING crazy, sinful things, their hearts have ALREADY turned to wickedness. I don’t know one guy who got caught in adultery that didn’t have some kind of problem with lust or pornography. The direction of our heart will determine the direction of our walk. That’s why we are encouraged to GUARD our hearts!
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” – Proverbs 4:23
Before our actions change, our hearts already have! This proverb is telling us that we can control our behavior by directing our hearts affections. People that walk a lifestyle of righteousness have already turned their hearts to righteousness. People that walk in unrighteousness have already turned their hearts in the direction of wickedness. It’s not rocket science!
Your FEET follow your HEART. To change your WALK, you must first change your HEART.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
“Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?” – Proverbs 6:27-28
Simple questions demand simple answers. Take this one for example: “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” The answer is of course, NO. Yet so many people live their lives trying to disprove such simple, ironclad logic. We make these elaborate excuses and reasons to explain away our faults and sins. Most all of them will come down to a simple explanation. Get caught in adultery? It’s because you have been playing with fire: Sexual immorality. Sexual immorality has a unique attraction to men and that is the context of the Proverb we’re talking about today:
“So is he who sleeps with another man's wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.” – Proverbs 6:29
That immoral woman may look nice, she may talk nice and smell nice, but in the end, she’s another man’s wife! Touching her is like playing with fire! If you play with fire you WILL get burned, period. Why is it that we think we can flirt with danger and not get hurt? I’ve known men that feel good about themselves because they withstood a temptation that they should have run from! Many things that we are trying to bear up under simply need to be defeated by abandoning them!
I like what David Hogan said one time, “Things that have eaten my lunch in the past, I don’t let even sit at the table!” That is a wise position, if something has defeated you in the past, why even give it a chance in the future? If you struggle with sexual temptation, either in real life or with something like pornography, don’t try to bear up under the temptation, RUN from it!
“FLEE from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” – I Corinthians 6:18
Many men are frustrated because they can’t get and stay free from the temptation of pornography, largely because they are giving this DEMON too much of their time and energy. They have TONS of unaccountable time and energy and wonder why they fall into the trap? What’s happening is that they are dining with temptation instead of running out the door.
While playing with fire, you honestly can’t act surprised WHEN you get burned.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
“My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” – Proverbs 3:11-12
I believe that many Christians think that under the New Covenant there is no such thing as discipline… well, they are WRONG. Discipline isn’t as much about Covenant as it is about a relationship with the Father. God is a good father is disciplines His kids, therefore, GOOD father’s discipline. Some people think that disciplining your kids means you don’t love them, but the opposite is true!
“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” – Proverbs 13:24
If you DON’T discipline your kids, you HATE them, but if you love them, you discipline them. Why is it that so many Christians talk about God’s love, while neglecting the Lord’s discipline? If God loves you as much as you claim (while you go around living a selfish, sinful life), He would be disciplining you!
“And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." – Hebrews 12:5-6
When we discipline our children here on earth, we use the rod of correction. It’s a very simple concept that says, “wrong behavior = PAIN”. All the psychobabble in the world can’t negate the simple logic involved here:
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” – Proverbs 22:15
So what is the discipline of the Lord? Obviously, God isn’t reaching down from Heaven with his Cosmic Heavenly Rod and spanking us. No, the Bible tells us:
“Endure hardship as discipline;” – Hebrews 12:7
In the New Testament, this word “hardship” is also called: chastening, education, training, correction. So the Lord is telling us to endure this correction as it is from the Lord. The word “endure” means: stay under, remain in.
Bottom line, DON’T RUN from correction and rebuke, receive it! If we don’t, I’m afraid the outcome is unfavorable:
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.” – Hebrews 12:7-8
A God that "loves" you SO MUCH that He doesn’t discipline you isn’t the God of the Bible.
“He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” – Proverbs 2:7-8
Many believers walk around every day with a sense of dread. Conditioned by previous bad experiences and defeats, they seem to be waiting for “the other shoe to drop”. Even when good things occur, many Christians have the thought, “nothing good lasts forever”. In reality, bad things do sometimes happen and I think it’s generally a good thing to be prepared for the worst. But living in that sense of foreboding and dread is NOT the Lord!
In the book of Luke, we are given a promise concerning the New Covenant. Under the Old Covenant, the priesthood (those that served the Lord) lived under a continual sense of dread. Make one wrong move in the temple and you were DEAD. But in the New Testament, the High Priest Zechariah prophesied:
"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” – Luke 1:68-75
Under this New Covenant of faith in the blood of Jesus, we are empowered to serve the Lord without fear! Fear is NOT our friend! Instead of being convinced of the enemy’s ability to penetrate our defenses and ruin our lives, we should grow in confidence in God and HIS ability to “be a shield to those who are blameless” and “guard the course of the just and protect His faithful ones.” Instead of a sense of foreboding and doom, we should be confident that God has GOOD things stored up for us. In fact, “He holds VICTORY in store for the upright”. What’s coming upon us and what’s in store for us is GOOD!
Many people are trying to do the New Covenant with an Old Covenant mindset.
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.” – Proverbs 1:10
I remember a sermon I heard in the mid-nineties like I heard it yesterday. It was a sermon by Roberts Liardon and it was called, “The View”. It dealt with the subject of this passage, being enticed or jealous of sinners and what they possess. It would be easy to be enticed by sinners if you didn’t consider the end of their lifestyles or the outcome of their way of life. He used Psalm 73 as a text. It reads:
“A psalm of Asaph. Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” – Psalm 73:1-3
The Psalmist considers the apparent prosperity of the wicked and is tempted to envy them. He notes:
“They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.” – Psalm 73:4-5
He goes on and on noting the condition of sinners and begins to wonder if walking in righteousness was really a good idea at all!
“Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.” – Psalm 73:13-14
But then, the Psalmist gets a perspective that we as believers MUST have. It’s a long term, eternal perspective that considers the end of the matter and not just the beginning:
“When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” – Psalm 73:16-17
He considers the end of their way of life and it’s not pretty:
“Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!” – Psalm 73:18-19
For several verses we see the final end of sinners. The psalm ends with these sobering words:
“Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” – Psalm 73:27-28
If a wicked lifestyle seems enticing just consider the END RESULT.