Friday, July 29, 2011
“A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.” – Proverbs 29:23
Over the years, I have been shocked by how LOW believers can go. You expect the crack heads and degenerates that don’t know Jesus to hit bottom, but rarely do you expect born again Christians to bottom out. Many people come to Jesus when they hit bottom but we’re not supposed to bottom out as Christians! If we do, this Proverb tells us why.
The ONLY reason that we bottom out and “hit the skids’ is because of pride. Pride is that amazing ability to COMPLETELY ignore the facts and be utterly deceived by our own “greatness”. The root word for pride in the Hebrew means; to mount up, to grow up, to rise up, swelling. Think of a loaf of bread rising before baking. That leaven gets in there and releases gas, making the dough rise to two and three times its normal size. But the second you touch it, or “punch it down” it releases the air and goes back to its ACTUAL size.
Pride has the same effect in the life of the believer. A little “leaven” of pride and we swell up like a tick. We’re fooled by our “growth”, barley recognizing that it’s all just hot air. It’s not real growth. Pride brings us LOW. I have known believers to completely bottom out financially, physically, relationally and emotionally. Now, everyone goes through hard times, even good people. But the kind of lowliness I am talking about here is extreme and totally unnecessary. Things like blowing through hundreds of thousands of dollars gambling, getting caught in multiple affairs, wrecking their lives and reputations with alcohol and even going to jail for not paying traffic tickets!
The scriptures say,
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." – James 4:6
Humility is not walking around with your head hanging low or speaking softly. No, humility is being aware of your need for God! When humble people hit a wall (and they do!) instead of try to tackle the impossibility themselves, they call on JESUS for help! Yes, they go to God in prayer, but God answers them THROUGH PEOPLE. Remember, he called us the “Body of Christ”! So they humble themselves to their spouse when they are struggling with lust, averting adulterous disaster. They confess their lack of self-control with drinking to their pastor or friend and GET HELP. Instead of “press through” financial impossibility, humble people ask for wisdom. It’s humbling in the moment, but in the end, it brings honor.
People that humble themselves are honored and people that honor themselves are humbled.
The grace we need to overcome whatever difficulty we’re encountering is only one act of humility away.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
“He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue.” – Proverbs 28:23
I’m not known for giving praise. In fact, I seem to be developing a reputation for being a straight shooter that will more likely rebuke you than praise you. This isn’t a bad thing. Sure, I have a LOT fewer friends than the person who praises everyone, regardless of whether that person is deserving of praise or not. But in THE END, it will go better for me.
Many who are easy “praisers” have such low standards that everyone deserves praise, everyone deserves honor and respect. You know the type; they endorse EVERYONE’S book with glowing accolades. But if you read the book, it’s crazy! They endorse EVERYONE’S ministry, even if they have a long history of immorality, alcoholism and greed. But this is NOT biblical teaching. Some in fact do NOT deserve honor or praise but they are DUE a stern rebuke!
“Therefore give to all their dues; to the one due tax, the tax; tribute to whom tribute is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honor to whom honor is due.” Romans 13:7
In many cases someone’s good deeds are used as a justification for their evil behavior. You’ve perhaps seen this before. It’s amazing how much “grace” the adulterous and greedy evangelist (e.g.-Todd Bentley) gets from other “leaders” in the body. Why does he get such preferential treatment? Because he “wins the lost” or because he was “instrumental in leading a revival”. But the greater question is, what exactly was he winning the lost to; If not the Gospel that requires holiness and purity? He’s leading a revival of what? Adultery & Immorality in the church?
You see these mega church pastors (e.g.-Eddie Long) that I guess are given a pass to seduce and sexually violate teenage boys. Why? “Because they do so much good in the community!” Where is it in the Bible that you are allowed to buy little boys expensive gifts with church offerings, take them on lavish “ministry” trips in order to seduce and perform all kinds of homosexual horror on teenage boys? But according to spineless, compromised DEVILS (e.g.-Creflo Dollar) he just “had a wreck” but “he has insurance” and “Jesus paid the premium!”
I guess I missed that passage in the Bible where homosexual pedophilia perpetrated by leaders in the church gets a pass.
It's like David Baker said, "Some believers are 'Coupon Christians' with a 'Discount Jesus'!"
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.” – Proverbs 27:2
Humility seems to be a lost art these days. When someone excels at most any endeavor today, they feel that it is their personal responsibility to publish this news to the rest of the world. Now, this isn’t a problem to folks that have settled for mediocrity in their lives, but it can become a major problem for folks that have let God transform them into someone truly remarkable. In truth, the call of God on our lives is a HIGH call. We were meant for greatness!
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:14
Many believers overreact and they seem to think the solution to a lack of humility is for NO ONE to have anything to be proud of and an almost forced mediocrity ensues. If NO ONE succeeds, then no one has any chance to be proud. Some churches basically worship ignorance and poverty, celebrating people’s lack of proficiency. We do it in songs that celebrate struggle and a culture that celebrates failure.
This IS NOT humility.
Maybe you’ve heard it at YOUR church? “Well, I lost my job, my house was foreclosed on, my car was repossessed and my wife left me… but PRAISE THE LORD, I’VE GOT THE VICTORY!” Umm, no you don’t. You my friend are a loser and you need JESUS to make you a winner!
In our church, we CELEBRATE those who achieve success in ANY endeavor. Whether it is scoring a big account that means LOTS of money, someone that graduates college with honors, or if someone sees a major miracle or leads someone to Jesus, we are the first to celebrate people that are exceptional. When someone achieves something great, it’s OUR responsibility to praise them and laud their achievements, since they aren’t permitted to sing their own praises. People need recognition for their successes and we need to be the ones giving it to them! Let’s not force them praise themselves!
If you struggle praising others for their achievements, perhaps due to jealousy, then you might have a poverty mindset. Poverty says that there is a limited supply and there isn’t enough to go around. Poverty says that if Person A is achieving something, then they are holding Person B back in some way! We are not called to have a poverty mindset; we’re called to have an abundance mentality! God is a God of MORE than enough and we need to become more like HIM.
I’d pat you on the back, but your hand is in the way!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” – Proverbs 26:12
I have spent a considerable amount of time here detailing the plight of the “fool”. To date I have some 130 posts on Proverbs, most of them in some way having to do with being a fool, not being a fool, etc. The total destruction that comes to a fool’s health, wealth and relationships because of their foolish behavior is truly staggering. In truth, the fool has a tough road to hoe and it’s in our best interest to avoid foolish behavior.
Yet this proverb tells us that there is something worse than being a fool. This proverb tells us that there is more hope for a fool than for a man that is wise in his own eyes! In the King James, the Bible uses the word “conceit” to describe the man that is wise in his own eyes. It means;
Conceit - favorable opinion; especially : excessive appreciation of one's own worth or virtue.
So what the Bible is telling us is that there is MORE hope for a foolish person than for one who has a bloated sense of their own self-importance. There is a greater chance for repentance, grace and mercy on someone that acts foolishly than someone who has an “excessive appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue”.
I have met people like this. They are the kind that always believes they are right, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. These are people that are above instruction, correction or rebuke in their own minds. They see themselves as the teachers and benefactors of this earth; almost as if the world is graced with their presence. I have had people like this tell me that they have nothing to learn from their pastors/leaders at a church service on Sunday morning, all while their lives are an utter mess!
This mentality does seem to be on the rise in the church today in our culture of cheap grace and lax morality. With the expansion of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, everyone is a sage! You have total bums, living in their Mom’s basement and incapable of providing for themselves dispensing their YouTube “wisdom” full time. If they understood their ACTUAL importance or self-worth (Nill), they would shut up and get their life together.
Now more than ever, it’s important that we KNOW people, NOT according to what they say, but according to their fruit (or lack thereof).
“Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” – Matthew 7:20
Better a fool that knows he’s a fool than a conceited idiot that thinks he’s the “dogs bollocks”.
Monday, July 25, 2011
“Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters.” – Proverbs 25:13
Several years ago, I didn’t really understand this passage; I guess I just wrote it off for a piece of wisdom only applicable “back in the old days”. Yet today it makes all the sense in the world. I think that may have something to do with what I have been given to say. God has given our church and our ministry a message. We have something to say.
A messenger is just a carrier of a message. His job is to take a message from the King and deliver it to the intended audience. When you think about it, all believers are messengers. We have been given a message from our King. We will be judged in eternity in part on how faithfully we represented our King and how faithfully we communicated HIS message. When we communicate what we have to say to others, the word spreads. When someone who hears what we have to say and then in turn misrepresents what we have to say, we have a problem.
I preach the Gospel to unbelievers on a regular basis. It’s part of my lifestyle. By FAR, the #1 problem we have in sharing the Gospel with unbelievers is not that they have never heard the message, but the messengers that have brought them the message in the past were unfaithful. The either didn’t faithfully represent the King or His message. Think about it, how many businesses are ruined by unfaithful employees or churches reputations destroyed by the unfaithful behavior of her congregants?
In the context of our ministry, I have spent considerable time and energy clarifying things said by messengers who aren’t trustworthy. This happens as people that are exposed to what we have said go running around and misrepresent our message to others. It’s maddening. People who I don’t even know have formed these impenetrable judgments against us based on inaccurate information. Almost 100% of the time, if they give me a few minutes I am able to convince them that I am not the monster some bitter, petty person swears I am.
On the flip side, when we have people that faithfully represent what we have to say to others, it’s VERY refreshing. There are few things more exciting than when someone hears what you have to say, takes it and then faithfully represents it to others. Folks like that I consider my friends.
I wonder if the Lord feels the same way?
Be a trustworthy messenger. Both to the Lord and anyone you represent, from your boss to your pastor.
Friday, July 22, 2011
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” – Proverbs 22:1
Our name is who we are. The essence of who we are and what we do is contained within our name and our actions here on earth determine how our name is received. We are nothing without our word. If people don’t believe us when we speak, then we have lost everything!
Let’s do an exercise to illustrate the point:
What do you think of when I say Enron? Prior to October 2001, Enron was seen as a strong business and excellent company to invest in. When the accounting scandal broke in October 2001, instantly their name became a synonym for corporate greed and a case study for all that is wrong with capitalism. How about,
When “The Juice” is mentioned, very few would think of his amazing accomplishments in college and professional football. Most everyone will remember OJ as being the one famously acquitted for a murder most of the world is SURE he committed. In the church, we could say,
When I say that, few would think of the amazing anointing once on that man’s life. Few would even recount the evangelistic power that he once walked in. Most will remember the scandal with him and a local prostitute and his tearful televised repentance of “I have sinned!”
The list could go on and on, but the reality is that our names are absolutely invaluable and contain the fruit of our life here on earth. Take the name,
In His life on earth, Jesus demonstrated a supreme level of obedience, even unto the death. His ACTIONS procured for Him a name that’s above EVERY name.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” – Philippians 2:5-8
It’s HIS name that will cause EVERY knee to bow and EVERY tongue to confess.
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11
Protect your good name more than you would protect all the wealth of your household, without it, you are NOTHING.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.” – Proverbs 21:31
This is a very familiar scripture to many. I personally love this scripture because it shows us two things: Our responsibility to PREPARE for victory and God’s ability to produce VICTORY. Many believers don’t understand this concept at all. We’ll look at three different types of believers, two of which DON’T experience victory and the third being the one we want to be like.
Many believers are so “spiritual” that they make no natural provision for victory. Sadly these believers are always experiencing defeat, while claiming the victory that belongs to them, but eludes them! Take the believer that needs a job. MR. SPIRITUAL will pray, stand in faith, declare and proclaim the new job, yet many times will make no natural provision for the new job. When I say natural provision in this context I am talking about doing things like, writing out a resume, looking and applying for positions, going to interviews. Should an “opportunity” some to them, they find themselves prayed up but unprepared. Sometimes prayer alone is not enough! Working in faith and with diligence in agreement with our prayers is vital!
I have met MR. SPIRITUAL and they have told me in beautiful, flowery language about their passion for missions and the prophecies spoken over them to work for the Lord overseas. My question is ALWAYS the same: “Do you have a passport?” If the answer is “No” I know they won’t be going anytime soon. Silly Christian, actions working together WITH faith is where it’s at.
This person is ALL hard work and doesn’t give God two seconds to work on their behalf. They work their fingers to the bone to achieve victory, whether it is in finances, ministry or whatever they do. The problem is that they are trying to accomplish a supernatural lifestyle through natural means… BUT IT WON’T WORK!
This has been my tendency in the past. When I needed money I would go out there and get it! I’d get up early, prepare the day, pursue the business, work the business and collapse in bed at the end of the day, exhausted but BROKE! Why?? Because God would never let me prosper in my own strength! It wasn’t until I learned to tether my natural activity to prayer, humility and the supernatural that I started to receive supernatural provision.
The proper recipe for breakthrough and victory in the life of the believer is faith working together WITH our actions.
“Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” – James 2:21,22
Abraham BELIEVED God AND offered his son as a sacrifice. His faith AND actions worked TOGETHER to make him the Father of Faith. The believer that needs a new job will pray AND prepare a resume. The believer that feels calls to missions will pray for God to open a door overseas AND get a passport. The Bible is clear; it’s not unspiritual to do natural activity when it’s connected to our consciousness of a supernatural God. It’s unspiritual to NOT work according to our faith, leaving everything to God.
Real faith WORKS.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
“Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.” Proverbs 20:17
Most people don’t see themselves as thieves that gain their food (provision/sustenance) by fraud. But were we to examine many of our ways, we might start to think and act quite a bit differently.
In our morally soft charismatic environment, integrity is a dying breed. Don’t believe me? Just look at the “leadership” of the charismatic church. Compromised to the core, many of these charlatans are only out to make a buck, profiting of the church’s extreme lack of discernment. When it becomes ok for Todd Bentley to have an affair (during a revival no less), divorce his wife and almost instantly remarry his mistress, we have a MAJOR problem. Most disturbing are not the offender’s actions (anyone with discernment saw through him) but the chorus of approving voices that surrounded him in his sin. We were warned “don’t judge!” by the very people (Rick Joyner, Bill Johnson, etc.) that recommended this man’s ministry to the body of Christ. EVEN WORSE, these “leaders” have YET to apologize for publicly commending a scumbag to the church of the living God! FOR SHAME!
“In America today, it is considered worse to judge evil than to do evil.” - Os Guinness
No, the Bible is clear, any “produce” gained by fraud will in the end be just a mouthful of gravel! People that promote their ministry or church using deceptive or fraudulent tactics will, in the end, have nothing to show for all of their bluster. During the Lakeland debacle, there was a feeding frenzy from worship leaders and preachers in the body of Christ that wanted “stage time” during the revival. ON the stage, being broadcast around the world by GodTV, they could “get their name out there”. EVERY ONE of the money and publicity hungry hucksters jumped at the opportunity to appear “on stage” at Todd Bentley’s coronation/commissioning service in June 2008. Watching the show, you can literally see them jockey for “microphone time” and preeminence. Just how dumb did they ALL look just a couple weeks later that it came out that Todd was divorcing his wife, in an affair and an alcoholic??
Yeah, they may have gotten a temporary bump in their web traffic and book sales, but in the end it all came to naught. Their “prophecies” about Todd may have garnered them some brief attention, but the price they paid in the PERMANENT lack of credibility was more than substantial.
- Business owners that build their business on deception or trickery of their clients/customers will, in the end, have no customer base. Sure, you feel good for a minute when you cash that check you made my deceiving/bilking your customer, but every dollar you just made will cost you $1000 in the days to come.
- Home owners that lie to their mortgage company about their income/liabilities will ultimately have no home to sleep in when it gets taken away in foreclosure. Yes, it feels great to have a big house, that is, until you can’t afford the payments and it becomes a weight around your neck.
- Business people that exploit their relationships for financial gain (MLM) will soon find that all the money they made through their “great opportunity” can’t buy them a friend.
The list goes on and on.
Walk in Integrity. Live above board. Be honest. Take your time. Choose the low road. If you don’t, your sin WILL find you out.
“He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of conduct will die.” – Proverbs 19:16
Obedience to the commands of God has a direct effect on the state of our soul! So that leads me to ask why people seem so flippant about the Word of God? Many believers treat the scriptures as if they were optional, to be obeyed, WHEN THEY FEEL LIKE IT! But our spiritual lives literally depend on heeding the commands of God, they aren’t optional! Our soul is in jeopardy if we honestly think that we can get through this life by picking choosing which of God’s commands we will obey and which we will not. I have literally watched believers harden during a sermon that I or others have preached. You can see the look cross their face and loud as can be you can hear their thoughts, “I’m not doing that!”
We are responsible for the truth we possess. If God has gone out of His way to reveal something of Himself to you through the scriptures or through the Spirit, you are responsible for that knowledge! Claiming ignorance on the Day of Judgment won’t work!
"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” – Luke 12:47,48
“He who is careless of conduct will die.” Spiritual death enters in when we walk flippantly and not circumspectly. We need to examine our WAYS and inspect our CONDUCT. When we do, we can easily judge ourselves to see whether or not we are walking in faith. Every act and action in our lives points to a value or priority. If our actions are unfruitful and unspiritual, our priorities and values are off.
Our conduct is IMPORTANT! So many Christians have embraced a “Greasy Grace” or a “Sloppy Agape” that somehow excuses our conduct here on earth. They sin willfully and then flippantly claim the mercy and grace of God, “No big deal” they say. NOT TRUE! Your conduct really does reflect your heart.
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” – Matthew 7:18,19
Yes! Walk in and believe in the Grace of God, but don’t use it as an excuse to cover up evil!
Monday, July 18, 2011
“An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.” – Proverbs 18:19
I deal with a lot of offended people. Offended people leave churches and break relationships for spurious reasons. I can normally tell when someone is offended because when they approach you or are confronted with their weird behavior they are exactly as this Proverb declares, unyielding as a fortified city. They come with their minds made up and their (to them) ironclad arguments. You can tell they have had the conversation in their head 100 times before you have even talked. Reconciliation or redemption isn’t even on the table, the barred gates stare at you. The trial is over, the sentence has come down and you are just being informed of the good Judge’s decision.
The process is simple and totally avoidable:
Normally before someone gets offended, they get disappointed. Put simply, they had HOPED something would be a certain way and it didn’t go according to their plan they devised inside of their heads. Another thing that happens many times is they simply get their feelings hurt. It could be something small, like they didn’t get a return smile from someone at church, or they heard gossip that made them feel bad, unwanted, etc. Instead of being a GROWN UP and dealing with their offense, they keep it to themselves. Trying to appear mature, they say “There’s not a problem!” when really there IS a problem. In fact, it’s such a problem that they tell ten of their best friends and lose sleep over it. Over time, they nurture the offense, judgment or disappointment. They cultivate and grow their hurt, gathering a chorus of agreement from other offended and judgmental people like themselves.
They fortify the walls of their offense to KEEP PEOPLE AWAY! Building a wall of offense is a defensive mechanism; you keep people OUT with a wall. That’s all that people are doing when they get and make a decision to STAY offended. They build a wall, protecting themselves from another disappointment or offense. They dig a moat to keep all hurt and pain AWAY! The unintended consequence is that this wall also protects them and keeps them from resolving the conflict and getting HEALED. Your brother can’t scale the wall you have built with your offense. Your sister can’t swim the alligator filled moat of your offense to even get to you and resolve the conflict.
So there you sit, alone and angry inside your walls of offense. That wasn’t very helpful now, was it?
The truth is, everyone sitting inside the fortified city of offense is a COWARD. (You can quote me on that.) They don’t have the testicular fortitude to confront the hurt or offense they think or see. What they would find out a good 99% of the time is that the offense was unintentional or the disappointment was due to unrealistic expectations. They put on this brave face as if they are a hero, but they know in themselves that they simply have no backbone to CONFRONT. I live 100% free from offense and not because people don’t do horrible things to me like judge me, condemn me and slander me, but because I CONFRONT people when they do stupid stuff to me.
That’s how us winners roll.
This is like playing Cinderella, if the shoe fits, KICK IT OFF!! Run to your brother or sister and DEAL with the problem!
“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” – Proverbs 15:3
When we were young, both in Sunday School and at home, we were always reminded that Jesus was watching us, no matter what and no matter where. This kept me many times from doing the wrong thing when I was a kid. I distinctly remember many times being very much aware that Jesus was watching me about to be naughty! The instruction was given so that we would avoid being foolish when Mom and Dad WEREN’T looking. Rarely, if ever has this reality been used to remind us that He is looking on us when we are doing RIGHT!
As an adult, I have a made a conscious decision to walk in righteousness and holiness. I have shed any and everything that either the Bible or my conscience says is impure. We don’t watch nasty movies or TV, we don’t listen to garbage on the radio or look at smut online. We don’t get drunk & we don’t sleep around. We don’t cuss like sailors or live lazy, undisciplined lives. We have ordered our home and our lifestyle to be pleasing to the Lord! Yes, when temptations come, I am reminded that Jesus is watching, but do I remember that He watches me when I live righteously?
I think we need to be MORE conscious that His eyes are on us in righteousness. I am no longer a wicked person, bent on doing evil. I am the righteousness of God in Christ (II Cor. 5:21)! Being therefore a righteous and good man, do I remember that Jesus is watching? When I am doing right, living right, speaking right and just plain BEING right, do I remember that He sees me?
"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:2-4
This passage is all about who SEES you when you do a righteous act like give to the poor. If your concern is that MAN sees you, then you serve MAN. If your concern is that GOD sees you, then He is your God!
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:5,6
God sees our private prayer! He hears and He is listening when we call out to Him! This means that we have an audience with the King of all creation!
If you require recognition from Man you are living FOR Man.
“A fool's talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.” – Proverbs 14:3
Your mouth will either bring protection to your life or PAIN. I have known many believers that simply open their mouths and invite a major beating:
“A fool's lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating.” – Proverbs 18:6
It’s amazing that what we SAY can affect our lives so profoundly. My life has more than one time been threatened because the people I was with couldn’t hold their tongue. In the same way, my life has been preserved because of the thoughtful, wise words that have proceeded from someone’s mouth. You would think our actions would be the only thing that can have that effect, but our words are equally powerful. God said that the power of life and death are in our mouths!
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21
The enemy is a legalist and he knows this principle. That’s why he will focus his energies into getting us to proclaim death or have an undisciplined mouth. He doesn’t need to personally get involved in destroying our lives physically when he knows all he has to do is get us saying the wrong things! We can proclaim life and we can proclaim death with our mouths. Many times the enemy just sits back as we reap a harvest of destruction with our lips. I’ve been in some believer’s meetings where Christians sing the very plans of the enemy. I was recently in a service where the believers happily sang what I would term the theme song of hell!
I may never raise the dead
I may never do miracles or heal the sick,
But as long as I’m in Your Presence, I’m great, etc. etc. etc.
That’s why it is imperative that we FILL our hearts with the Word of God. We need to wash our filthy minds with the scriptures so that when we open our mouths, GOOD THINGS come out!
“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” – Matthew 12:34
We can’t tame our tongue (James 3:8), but the Lord and His Word CAN! This will bring protection, healing and LIFE! Not a beating, dishonor and death.
Change your life by changing your SPEECH.
“He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” – Proverbs 13:18
I think that it is amazing that our inability to receive correction or respond to discipline can and will affect our financial situation. This Proverb identifies the inability or unwillingness to receive correction or instruction as a source of poverty. This isn’t the only source of poverty, but it is one we can easily avoid. How many people have trounced over sound wisdom and instruction on their way to a fiery financial grave? How many business ventures have been ill advised from the outset by not being funded with cash, but with debt? Especially after the warning to owe no one anything!
“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves another has fulfilled the Law.’ – Romans 13:8
Yet, in our blindness, arrogance and stupidity it “seems good” to us to fund major projects with debt! WHEN they come crashing down due to our inability to pay the interest we many times wonder, “What happened!?” All the while, the scriptures silently convict and reveal the source of our error. More than just poverty, shame comes from being unwilling or unable to receive discipline and correction. The word for shame here is confusion, dishonor and reproach. I don’t know one person that has hit the skids financially, losing homes in foreclosure or wealth in bankruptcy that is proud of it. Bottoming out financially is very humbling and confusing and is right up there with the death of a loved one on the traumatic experiences of life. Economic downturns, stock market crashes or real estate bubbles we can’t effect, but this area we CAN.
“A fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.: - Proverbs 15:5
Honor however comes from heeding correction. This is the same word used in scripture to describe the weighty presence of God, the Kabode. It mean: weighty, heavy and regal. People that have bowed to wisdom and correction in their life, admitting where they went off the path and asking for forgiveness and mercy carry a regal, weighty presence about them. Many people get corrected, but only those that HEED correction are honored. A lot of fools think that because their stupidity was corrected they have changed. But it’s only when we apply the correction, discipline or instruction we have received that we change. Fools spurn correction, the wise change for the better as a result of it!
Foolish Behavior is EXPENSIVE!
Saturday, July 16, 2011
“A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” – Proverbs 12:26
Friendship and relationships are one area where my parents REALLY worked us over on. They would constantly teach us and warn us about “fools”. Whenever we made new friends, the first thing my Mom would ask is, “Son, is he a fool?” Using the wisdom of Proverbs as my measuring rod I would evaluate ALL of my relationships, friendships and even acquaintances. I can only remember a couple times ever spending the night at friends’ houses, although many of my friends would have people over or spend entire weekends at friends’ houses. That’s because good friends are hard to find! The end result was that I was VERY cautious in my friendships. It served me well because I lived a relatively sheltered life; sheltered from sin, wickedness and foolishness. If you say that today, people roll their eyes and say things like, “You can’t shelter your kids forever!” (As they throw their kids to the wolves of sex, drugs and teenage pregnancy!)
Growing up I was aware that not everyone was like this. In fact I have heard some pretty strong accusations and arguments against the way I was raised by many. Funny thing though, the people that argue have bigger problems to worry about, like where their illegitimate grandchildren are going to sleep, or where they are going to find the money to pay for junior’s rehab.
The Bible says it clear and clean; Righteous people are CAUTIOUS in friendship. This word means that they reconnoiter, or research their associations. Some people rankle at this, as if love is blind. They take offense at a person that is concerned about who they fellowship with. What they forget is that Love COVERS sins, it doesn’t IGNORE them. The righteous understand the NO ONE is looking out for their own salvation and entrust themselves to no man. Like Jesus!
“But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.” – John 2:24,25
We are called to walk circumspectly. We MUST be cautious in who we share our lives with. If we end up walking with the wise, we will grow wiser, but if we end up strolling the path of life with fools, we’ll be DESTROYED!
“He who walks with the wise shall be wise, but a companion with fools shall be destroyed.” – Proverbs 13:20
Research your friends, know their actions and only walk with those committed to truth!
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” – Proverbs 11:3
The unfaithful are like chameleons. They can change for whoever is in the room. If they disagree with you, they will never tell you to your face. They are much too cowardly for that. They will wait until they gather together with those who are as compromised as they are and when they are sure that their illegitimate support group is behind them, they will say what they really think. Funny thing though, they never tell the right person, which is the person they have the problem/disagreement with. The worst thing about the unfaithful and their total inability to be honest is that they are dishonest under the pretense of “helping” the person they slander against. They say nice things like, “I don’t think so and so could handle this, that’s why I am telling you… here, let’s pray!”
Righteous people are righteous all the time. People who possess the truth don’t need a chorus of voices that agree with theirs. They regularly stand alone, guided by their integrity. You see, integrity demands that we walk a certain way, ALL of the time, no matter who is in the room. The unfaithful shrink back from telling and walking in the truth, guided by their fear of facing men! The righteous are guided by their fear of the face of God! Who you fear determines the quality of Christian you are!
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” – Proverbs 29:25
The snare the fear of man talks about here is the same one that our Proverb for today is talking about: the snare of duplicity. The word duplicity here comes from a Hebrew word that means: to wrench, subvert, overthrow, pervert & distort. And that’s exactly what the unfaithful do, they distort the truth to make it fit their personal convictions. They distort their true feelings, telling everyone what they want to hear until their lies catch up with them. In an environment full of committed people, the unfaithful AMEN a call to commitment and sacrifice for the Gospel. Yet in another environment full of backsliders, they question the “wisdom” of such calls and side with the weak and fearful. The weak and fearful just need encouragement; they are weak and fearful ALL of the time! But the unfaithful man needs a kick in the tail and a sharp rebuke for his lifestyle of deceit.
We need to drop ALL pretense and just BE righteous.
“To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” – Proverbs 8:13
It’s very unfashionable these days to hate anything. Yet the Bible tells us that if we fear God, we will HATE evil! Not laugh at it when it’s displayed on our television screen! In truth, if we DON’T Hate evil, we really don’t fear the Lord! But in our compromised church environment, if anyone would be so bold to claim that they hate what the Lord hates, they would quickly be condemned for not “walking in love”. Yet the Bible is full of things that God hates and we are encouraged to love what He loves and hate what He hates!
“The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.” – Psalm 11:5
Wow. Can you imagine being hated by the soul of God?? God’s soul HATES the wicked and those that love violence. I would HATE to be on that roll!
“There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” – Proverbs 6:16-19
1. Think about this, GOD HATES haughty (proud) eyes.
I simply loathe them, but God takes it to another level and declares His HATRED towards proud eyes.
2. God HATES a lying tongue.
At the worst, I roll my eyes when people lie to me, a bit perturbed, yes, but HATE? Not quite.
3. It says here that God HATES hands that shed innocent blood!
Unrepentant murderers DESERVE the Hell they are going to get.
4. God HATES a heart that devises wicked schemes.
Wow! God hates a heart??
5. God HATES feet that are quick to rush into evil.
Maybe that will slow your pace next time you think about sinning??
6. God HATES a false witness that pours out lies.
This pretty much damns our entire political system. We all know they are lying just about every time they open their mouth.
7. God HATES a man that stirs up dissension among brothers.
A man that brings strife where this is none into a fellowship is on God’s short list of detestable things. Look out church splitters!
It’s OK to hate the right things. I’m bringing HATE back!
“With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk.” – Proverbs 7:21
The Devil is sneaky. He knows that we are naturally on guard for things that are overtly demonic. If he came to us shrouded in a red mist as he ascended from the depths of hell with pitchfork in hand and horns on the top of his head, after soiling ourselves, most Christians would IMMEDIATELY begin to rebuke him in Jesus name! No, he is much smarter than that. The New Testament tells us that the enemy many times comes masquerading as an “Angel of light”.
“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” – II Corinthians 11:14
Light speaks of revelation and illumination. The enemy coming as an angel or messenger of light many times speaks of the enemy coming to deceive God’s people as a bringer of revelation and “truth”. I can’t tell you how many Christians, many of them dear friends who “see the light” and are led “off the path.” Time always tells though, normally, sooner rather than later, anyone paying attention can tell what quality this “new revelation” brings.
The adulteress, with all of her trappings and the total destruction that her ministry brings comes with smooth talk. If she told you the truth, you would RUN. Seduction always appeals to our base, carnal nature. It tells our flesh “You don’t REALLY have to persevere or endure things for the sake of the Gospel” or, “This whole walking with Jesus thing is too hard, I think you are striving in serving God”. I have watched many Christians, some of them dear friends be seduced by “the easy way”. Walking with God is TOUGH. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to get an offering out of you! Certainly there is joy, life and peace, but that is for your spirit! No one (except the devil) said you would get what you want, when you want it.
That’s Burger King, not the Kingdom.
It’s time to wake up and recognize that the seductive voice calling you to a life of ease is NOT the Holy Spirit, it’s the enemy of your soul!
Friday, July 8, 2011
“My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck.” – Proverbs 6:20,21
I know, not all of us have had mothers and fathers that walked in Wisdom and Understanding. In fact, the only thing that some of us can learn from our parents is what NOT to do! Even then, we should learn the lessons well. We’re encouraged to bind them upon our heart, the core of who we are. We are called to fasten them around our neck like an amulet, always remembering their instruction. Thankfully I have some wonderful parents. I especially remember my Mom and Dad reciting to us proverbs. My mom would continually warn us kids about hanging around with “fools” and my Dad would not so graciously awaken us in the morning with this passage:
“As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed!” – Proverbs 26:14
Regardless, we should take what wisdom and understanding that we did learn from our parents (whether what to do or what not to do) and apply it in our lives. Why? Well, this kind of wisdom has MANY benefits. As we will see, this wisdom and understanding coming from the Father’s commands and our mother’s teaching will benefit us when we are walking, sleeping and awake!
“When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.” – Proverbs 6:22
As we walk, what we need is direction and guidance. We are already moving so we want to make sure that we are moving in the right direction and not walking in error. Regularly as I am living my life and making decisions I remember the teaching of my mother and the commands of my father. As I walk with God on the path of life, they are like markers on the edge of the path. More often than not, I know exactly when I stray from the path.
Their teaching and instruction also watches over me as I sleep. It is the context for my dreams and like a security blanket. The scariest place to be is out of the will of God and when I lie on my bed I am forced to come to grips and deal with my conduct, whether it is pure and right… or not! I’ve told unbelievers for years that there is power in a clean conscience. Going to bed with a clean conscience and knowledge that I am walking in truth is AMAZING!
When I awake from my peaceful slumber of the righteous, the teaching of my mother and commands of my father speak to me. They remind me of what is right and what is wrong. They set my feet in the right direction. They are like a road sign, directing me towards the path of life.
Those that forsake their parents’ instruction are confused when they walk, tormented when they sleep and harassed when they awake.
“For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.” – Proverbs 5:3,4
In the end, it all will be clear. In the end, the decisions we make, sometimes wondering if we are doing the right thing will be exceedingly clear. In the end, EVERYONE will know how right, or how wrong you actually were. In Proverbs, we are being continually reminded of this fact. It seems that part of Wisdom and understanding is simply looking past the temporary nature and appeal of things into the end of the matter. The adulteress sounds good, looks good and feels good, but in the END, she’ll kill you!
I believe that everything in our life should be considered from an eternal perspective. Every decision has got to pass the test of endurance. You should ask yourself, “How is this decision I am making today going to affect me tomorrow, or next year, or ten years from now?” If people considered the end of things, I believe there would be a LOT less bad decisions. As this Proverb tells us concerning adultery, yeah, the whore here is sweet as honey and as smooth as silk, but in the end, she’s nothing but heartburn and a piercing sword!
“At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly." – Proverbs 5:11-14
Again, we’re told to consider the END of things. It’s at the END of their life that the fool FINALLY has a realization of the price he paid to forsake wisdom and understanding. Hating discipline and spurning correction is fun… for a minute. It’s great to hang loose and not be disciplined in the moment. But the price in the long term really isn’t that pretty. But at the end of his probably short life, the fool considers the END. By disregarding the teaching of his teachers and failing to listen to his instructors, her has come to the brink of utter ruin in front of EVERYONE!
Consider the END of the matter, not only the temporary benefits.
“Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” - Proverbs 4:7
Wisdom is supreme. This word means: first, the beginning, chief, the principle thing. Wisdom should be the first thing we go after. Without wisdom, life does not have the proper context. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. Whenever I wonder how Christians are able to rage against the most basic morality, getting involved in such base sins as lust, adultery, perversion, gambling, lying/cheating on their taxes, breaking their word, etc. I remember, they are able to do so simply because they lack the Fear of the Lord. With the Fear of the Lord, they would have a basic grasp of wisdom which would prevent such ridiculous errors.
Everything costs something. If you are going to possess wisdom and understanding it will cost you something to attain it. If you decide that maybe wisdom and understanding aren’t for you, that will cost you something as well. What’s always been amazing to me is the price that people are willing to pay to NOT get wisdom or understanding. We shrink away from paying a small price for something of eternal value while paying a HUGE price for our lack thereof. Understanding will cost us EVERYTHING we have here on earth. When you truly possess wisdom and understanding, you are walking in fellowship with the Lord. When you walk in fellowship with the Lord, there is no telling what you may have to give up to walk on the narrow way.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:13,14
If you lack wisdom and understanding, you may get to keep everything you possess here on earth, but you will most certainly lose everything you could have had in eternity! We are all making decisions all of the time. Wise people make quality value decisions to esteem that which is eternal over that which is temporary, foolish people mortgage their eternal security for a fun time here on earth!
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – II Corinthians 4:17,18
Wisdom and understanding will cost you everything here on earth. Failing to possess them here will cost you everything there… in eternity.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.” – Proverbs 1:10
I was sitting in First Class on a flight from Atlanta to California. I was given the option to upgrade my ticket to First Class for $50 and I took it. We were going on a ministry trip to minister at a church in Southern California and I had a team back in coach coming with me. It was a crammed flight and not an empty seat on the plane. One of the last people to get on the plane was a GORGEOUS young woman. She came and sat down next to me. Right away I knew she was trouble. The way she dressed and the way she carried herself were VERY seductive. I greeted her politely and began to read the book I brought with me very intently.
No sooner were we in the air than she began to order drinks. Only a couple hours into the 5 hour flight and she was pretty loose. She began talking to me, asking questions about what I was reading and what I did for a living. Telling her I was a preacher on my way to California to preach the GOSPEL didn’t seem to have any effect on her whatsoever. Clinking my wedding ring on the chair didn’t either. I excused myself, used the restroom and on my way back to the seat asked the stewardess if I could switch seats so I could sit closer to the guys on my team in coach. She was unable to help me, the flight was too full and they really couldn’t bring folks from coach into business mid-flight. I was stuck next to a loose lipped, slightly inebriated young lady that dressed and acted very seductively.
When I sat down, she gave me the whole story. Her marriage was in trouble, she was moving to California to pursue her career. She was seriously contemplating divorce. She suspected her husband of having an affair on her and she was angry. She began making eyes at me as she spoke. She also began touching my leg as she talked. I politely moved her hand off, but she would not STOP! She told me plainly that she wanted to get back at him and without a doubt; I was to be her revenge. She told me where she was staying and how to get in touch with her in California. But what took the cake was her less that subtle offer to join the “mile-high” club with her.
This sinner was enticing me! The temptation was intense to give in to her. But in a moment of clarity I saw her for what she is: a dirty WHORE inspired by the devil who was hell bent on ruining my marriage, my ministry and sending me to hell!
Here’s what I said:
Ryan: “Real quick, let me ask you a question.”
Ryan: “You said you were married, right?”
Ryan: “So, you had a ceremony, right?”
Ryan: “Like at a church or whatever?”
Whore: “Totally, it was this beautiful building, etc. etc. etc.”
Ryan: “Like all weddings, you probably had a bunch of witnesses, huh?”
Whore: “Yes, it was a BIG wedding, maybe 200 people!”
Ryan: “Did you have a preacher do the service for you?”
Whore: “Oh yeah, he was a family friend, blah, blah, blah…”
Ryan: “So, did he have you guys recite vows?”
Whore: “Of course!”
Ryan: “Like the traditional ones? You know, till death do us part type thing?”
Whore: “Ummm, yeah… I guess?” *getting suspicious now*
Ryan: “Let me make a recommendation, is that ok?”
Whore: “Ok…” *freaked out now*
Ryan: “I think that you should go home to your husband and fulfill your vows that you made in a church, before God and witnesses!”
Whore: *stunned silence*
The last two hours of that flight were as quiet as could be. I think I even managed to take a little nap, sleeping the sleep of the just!
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.” – Proverbs 1:10