Tag Archives: Wise

Domestic Disharmony

19 Sep

faucetCheck out the podcast here.

Last week we did some review about money and learned that God doesn’t care how much you have. God’s position on wealth hasn’t changed and it shouldn’t impress us if people have a lot of money. It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury. It just doesn’t make sense and even if somehow they enter into a luxurious lifestyle, it won’t last long. We saw the importance of self-control. It is one of the bench marks of salvation. We went through the 4th Chapter of Ephesians and I encouraged you to review it from time to time. Forgetting a wrong-doing does not mean there will not be consequences. As an authentic believer, you are positionally secure in Jesus Christ. Because of this, you need to walk in a manner worthy of your calling. This morning, we take a different look at some relationships.

I hope you’ll take the time and read our passage found in Pro. 19:12-17.

Solomon shifts from fury to wrath. He spoke about the king’s fury back in 16:14 and said that the king can bring about life or death in 16:15. The same general idea is presented here again. “The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.” Probably no student likes to get sent to the principal’s office. There’s probably no worker that wants to get summoned to the supervisor’s office. If and when you do, do you get this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach? If you’ve done nothing wrong, you shouldn’t worry. Solomon is saying if you’ve done wrong, the king’s wrath is like that of a roaring lion. Substitute supervisor, manager, principle, or boss and you get the idea. If you hear the roar, you’re on the receiving end of his wrath. But if you’re doing good and right, “His favor is like dew on the grass.” It’s refreshing, it’s delightful, it’s the sign of a new day. It’s a good place to be. Paul said it like this in Rom. 13:3, “For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same.”

Let’s shift over to some household issues. Many people grow up and dream of getting out on their own, getting married, and starting a family. It’s a normal part of life. The opposite is true: if you have grown children that never want to leave the house, that’s abnormal. I’m not talking about arrangements of convenience or mutual benefit. I’m talking about no plans, no ambition, and no desire that can lead to issues. We start with the parent son relationship. “A foolish son is destruction to his father.” We saw the foolish son causing grief to his mother in 10:1 and to his father in 17:25. We saw the foolish man despising his mother in 15:20. In 17:21 we saw there’s no joy in being the father of a fool. Now he’s causing destruction to his father. Have you ever wished you never had children? Do you wish that they could be shipped off somewhere? Children were meant to be a joy and a blessing. Do you wonder if and when they will stop causing such sorrow in your life? All of these feelings fall under the umbrella of what Solomon is talking about. Even after they move out of the house and began life on their own, they can cause problems. No matter how old you get or they get, you’ll always be a parent.

Have you ever thought about the importance of relationships? Well, Solomon has and he shifts over to the second most important relationship in this world. Outside of the relationship with Jesus Christ, the husband wife relationship is the most important relationship you’ll be engaged in. As equally troubling, Solomon says, “The contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.” You may have heard this verse quoted before. It seems like a departure from the last thing he said about wives: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.” (Pro. 18:22) We’re talking about a contentious wife here. Contentions are quarrels, arguments, disagreements, or controversies. Solomon’s talking about bickering and fighting between husband and wife and he’s not talking once in a while. There are certain things that are not up for discussion in the home. How you hang the toilet paper or paper towels. What type of peanut butter or coffee to buy. The relationship Solomon refers to is a continuous struggle and it seems he’s directing this at the woman. No matter the time or day of the week, this woman makes it unsettling and uneasy to be around her.

It’s a, “constant dripping.” Have you ever tried to think or sleep with a dripping faucet? The longer you are in silence, the louder it gets? Not long ago, our ice maker began making a knocking sound. That refrigerator is about as far away from our bedroom as it can be. With our door shut, it sounded like a hammer against concrete and it got louder and louder and louder until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I got out of bed and disassembled it until the noise stopped. It was irritating, it got under my skin, I couldn’t think about anything else except how annoying the noise was. That’s what Solomon is talking about. Continual strife in the home. Bickering, arguing, snarky comments, purposeful antagonizing make that an unpleasant place to be. So what’s the solution? It’s the same one you’ve heard before. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Eph. 5:25) All of us need to get out of the business of trying to change other people. You be the person God is transforming you to be and pray that you’ll be able to demonstrate the same love, grace, and mercy that has been bestowed upon you. Impossible? No. Easy? Doubtful, but it should get easier as you grow in the knowledge and wisdom of God. Solomon talks more about problematic wives in Chapters 21 and 27.

He continues the domestic angle in the next verse. “House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” Notice the wifely contrast from the previous verse. This verse refers to the ancient practice of arranged marriages. Believe it or not, arranged marriages are still common in India, Pakistan, Japan, China, and in Israel among orthodox Jewish communities. In order to make it more attractive to potential husbands, dowries were offered. The bigger the dowry, the better quality husband to be attracted for marriage. No matter how big the estate or dowry, “A prudent wife is from the Lord.” Prudent means acting with care and concern for the future. The prudent wife makes the best of everything. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “A marriage made in heaven?” A prudent wife is more valuable than a big house and great wealth. The most important factor in marriage is dedication to God and His Son. Show me a wife that earnestly follows Christ, and I’ll show you a woman that will stick it out in difficult situations, that will demonstrate love and respect for her husband, that will not nag him to death, that will not drive him out of the house. Show me a prudent wife, and I’ll show you a husband that is blessed beyond measure. Show me a prudent wife, and I’ll show you a husband that should praise the Lord and thank Him for His goodness. If we would be more patient and trusting, the Lord would provide that person in our life.

Verse 15 is nothing new. “Laziness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle man will suffer hunger.” Solomon has little patience for laziness. “How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?” (Pro. 6:9) “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest.” (Pro. 6:10) and that exact verse is repeated in Pro. 24:33. Laziness seems to be rampant these days. Idleness seems to be rewarded. That’s totally contrary to the work ethic mandated for followers of Christ. “Laziness casts into a deep sleep.” When you’re lazy, you fall asleep and dream. You accomplish nothing. When you’re idle, you’re not working. If you’re not working, you’re not earning money. If you’re not earning money, you can’t buy food. If you can’t buy food, you will be hungry. It is as simple as that. I always scratch my head at people that are unemployed and when you tell them about a job, they say they don’t want to do that kind of work. If you’re able to work and you’re too lazy to work, shame on you.

Obedience is a good thing. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (Jo. 14:15) I don’t know of any better way to demonstrate your love and commitment to Christ than to be obedient to His teachings. Solomon knew this and that’s why he says, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul.” Keeping God’s commands is a really good thing to do. We don’t do it to earn our way to heaven; we’re obedient because we defer to God’s plan and to His will. Back in Pro. 13:13, we saw, “The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.” In Luke 11, Jesus had cast out a demon from a mute man and after the demon was gone, the mute man was able to speak. The Pharisees told the people that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub. Jesus explained about demons and about a divided house and the teaching was so incredible that, “One of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Lu. 11:27-28) This woman was praising Jesus’ mother for giving birth to Him, and Jesus turns it around into obedience. It’s not good enough just to listen to the Word of God. You can hear the Word day in and day out, but if you don’t take it to heart and follow what the Word says, are you really hearing it?

Don’t misunderstand what Solomon is saying. “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul.” This is not a works based faith. Apart from Christ, you’re not able to keep the commandments of God. Solomon is talking about walking the walk that you talk. He’s talking about walking the path of righteousness. When you follow the commands of God, the principles found in Scripture, the teachings of Jesus, and the teachings of the prophets, you will keep your soul. The opposite is also true. If you ignore the teachings of the Bible, you will die. Make no mistake about it, everyone has eternal life. That eternal life is either present with the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit or separated from the Trinity for eternity.

Our last verse for today: “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.” This goes hand in hand with Jesus’ words when He said, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matt. 25:40) Essentially, if you want to help someone in the name of Jesus, God will bless you in whatever way He deems appropriate.

It is not good to be on the receiving end of a lion’s roar. If you consistently do what is pleasing to the Lord, you’ll find yourself as refreshed as the morning dew. Solomon moved over and talked about domestic relations. It’s tough to have a foolish son – in fact it can destroy a father. Constant wifely nagging is like a dripping faucet: it can drive you out of your mind. Having a wife is a good thing, but finding a prudent woman is a gift from God. Don’t be lazy – it can lead to hunger. We finished by talking about keeping the commands of God. It is probably the primary indicator of an authentic relationship with God. If you do a good deed in the name of Jesus to help someone, God will reward your actions; we don’t know if it will happen here, but it will definitely happen in eternity.

Can Wisdom be Bought?

13 Jun

MoneyListen to the podcast here.

Last week Solomon gave us a great word picture about dealing with a fool. It’s better to deal with an angry momma bear than it is to deal with a fool. When you have the supernatural love of Christ, forgiveness should come easier and easier for us, but forgiveness does not mean that there won’t be consequences. Don’t repay evil for good. The best way to win an argument with a fool is to not start one. People that justify the actions of the wicked or condemn the actions of the righteous are both an abomination to the Lord. This morning, Solomon starts with a rhetorical question.

Here’s what Pro. 17:16-21 says, “Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom, when he has no sense? A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. A man lacking in sense pledges and becomes guarantor in the presence of his neighbor. He who loves transgression loves strife; he who raises his door seeks destruction. He who has a crooked mind finds no good, and he who is perverted in his language falls into evil. He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy.”

If you weren’t sure where Solomon stands, he makes it clear here. This verse is hilarious to me, “Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom, when he has no sense?” I can hear Solomon’s voice go up when he asks this. This is just like a fool. If wisdom could be bought, which it can’t, would the fool be standing in line to get it? He’s too foolish to know that he lacks wisdom. The phrase “he has no sense” literally means there is no heart. The heart is the center of one’s being; it is the seat of emotion. In Lu. 24:25 Jesus said to His disciples, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” Jesus was saying the slow of heart don’t get what the prophets are saying. You’ve experienced this too, I am sure. You’ve heard the expression he has no heart or he’s heartless. That normally is attributed to someone that has no capacity for empathy or understanding. That’s what Solomon is saying. The fool has the money in his hand to buy wisdom, but lacks the capacity to actually obtain wisdom. While true biblical wisdom can only be found from God, biblical wisdom is available from godly parents, church leaders, pastors, as well as your common, garden variety, authentic believer. The only problem with that is the fool has no capacity for it and that’s what Solomon is saying. The very thing needed for a fool to become not a fool – wisdom – is unattainable because of his heart. So can one become biblically wise? Pro. 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” so if a fool decides to put down his foolish ways and follow God, yes it’s not only possible, it’s expected.

What exactly is unconditional love? You’ve heard me say often that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Solomon says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” The Beatles got by with a little help from their friends. The Rembrandts sang “I’ll be there for You” on a show called, “Friends.” Bette Midler told her BFF that she was, “The Wind beneath My Wings.” James Taylor said, “Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend.” Queen said, “You’re My Best friend.” Michael W. Smith said that, “Friends are Friends Forever.”

Solomon is talking about real friendship. How do you know you have real friends? Pro. 18:24 says, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” I think we often confuse acquaintances with friends. How do you define a real friend? You’ve heard the phrase a friend in need is a friend indeed. Real friends will stick by you no matter what. Real friends will tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear. Real friends are there and you don’t have to ask them to be. Real friends call you and don’t want anything. Real friends don’t have expectations. Real friends are generally not those listed as friends on Facebook. In my estimation, if you have one, two, or three real friends, you’re doing well. I think many people shy away from developing true friendships because that means opening up to one another.  It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to develop trust. Notice Solomon says, “A friend loves at all times.” Love here is a verb – it’s an action word. This love is a demonstration of the strong and lasting bonds of true friendship. When that occurs, Solomon concludes that, “A brother is born for adversity.” Adversity means difficulty or misfortune. When troubles come, the friend is there. When adversity strikes, the friend is there. When tragedy occurs, the friend is there. You can’t run off a real friend.

Here’s some more foolishness. “A man lacking sense pledges and becomes a guarantor in the presence of his neighbor.” In Pro. 6:1 Solomon warned against being surety for your neighbor. In Pro. 11:15 he warned against being surety for a stranger. Solomon just said that a real friend is born for adversity, but that doesn’t mean covering someone else’s debt. That’s the meaning here. It’s a third party – a friend of a friend. Realistically, the fool doesn’t know how to biblically use money and certainly doesn’t understand how monetary dealings between friends can complicate relationships. The wise person doesn’t allow himself to be trapped like that and the good friend doesn’t even bring it up. “He who loves transgression loves strife.” Transgression means sin, plain and simple. Strife means angry or bitter disagreement. I don’t know anyone with good sense that enjoys strife. I guess the caveat is good sense. Strife can result from disagreeing about the truth. There are some really hot topic issues out there that people get instantly insane about. Bathrooms, animal rights, global warming, school prayer, and politics immediately come to mind. There are folks that want to talk about these and other issues, but it’s not really a discussion, it’s a diatribe. Fewer and fewer people are actually willing to sit down and hear a biblical perspective on an issue and this is exacerbated by people that are unwilling to study something out for themselves preferring to pick up what is put out on social media or the most popular blogs. Still others make the point that they don’t want to rock the boat; they don’t want to stir up what they call trouble. I’ve been that guy pleading with other believers in the room to help me out in a discussion and take up the mantle of biblical truth only for those others to avert their eyes.

I’m not suggesting that we go around starting arguments with other people, but I am suggesting that we become secure in our faith in order to defend what we believe in and why when the opportunity presents itself. “He who loves transgression loves strife; he who raises his door seeks destruction.” That’s a strange combination isn’t it? “Raises his door” is a metaphor for opening the mouth. Transgression and strife generally go hand in hand. One of the problems with people that talk too much is they tend not to know when it’s best to remain silent. Strife can lead to a host of biblical problems. Anger, bitterness, doubt, resentment, discontentment. Solomon assumes this isn’t going on in the life of the believer, but it is happening in the life of a fool. We’ve seen some really anti-Christian behavior so far in this series and those behaviors shouldn’t be part of the life of the authentic believer. We’re not talking momentarily losing your mind and doing something that dishonors God; we’re talking this is the way it is in your life. We need to continuously be growing in the area of our behavior. It’s incomprehensible to the writers of Scripture for us not to become more and more like Jesus. It’s a process that occurs each and every day. Strife will come into our lives, but let’s not be the source of it.

One last one for today. “He who has a crooked mind finds no good, and he who is perverted in his language falls into evil.” This is another written for today. Crooked means bent or twisted. I’m sure you’ve talked with people like this. You wonder how in the world they can think the way they think. You ask yourself, “Where do they come up with this stuff?” Yes, this also happens in the church. People saying the Bible says something that it does not. People quoting things they’ve heard in church that have no biblical basis. You’ve heard hate the sin, love the sinner. More and more people are defining themselves by their sin. We should hate sin – God hates sin and has given us a list of things He hates along with numerous biblical principles regarding sin. What’s curious though is we seem to be ready to hate the sin in everyone else’s life, yet are not so quick to hate when it comes to our own life. Hating sin is falling out of favor in society today. Have you heard, this too shall pass? It likely has some beginning in Matt. 24:35 that says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” We generally say this during times of trouble or grief. Not everything in our lives passes. Sometimes heartache lasts a lifetime.  How about, God just wants me happy? He’s not against your happiness, but He’s more concerned with your holiness. What about cleanliness is next to godliness? I’m not even sure why we say this. Is it to try and get kids to wash their hands before they eat? I don’t know many kids that care about being godly so it’s kind of silly. Parents, just whoop your kids if they don’t obey. There are others and you might think, what’s the big deal. The only source of absolute truth is the Bible and God provided His word as a testimony of Him, as a manual for life, as the basis for all that we know about what really matters. Some of these sayings are paraphrases of biblical truth and others are total heresy. Even if a catchphrase is encouraging or edifying, if it isn’t in the Bible, we can’t guarantee it’s the Word of God. The only way we’ll know for sure is to study the Bible for ourselves.

In another obvious statement, Solomon says, “He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy.” No one can pick what kind of child they have. When a child chooses to go his own way and ignore the teachings of his father, sorrow will follow. Remember that Solomon is speaking from his perspective – the perspective of a God fearing man. Lifelong sorrow in our life can come as a result of the decisions of our children. While all of our children can make foolish decisions, “The father of a fool has no joy.” None. Zero. Nada.

We began this morning saying that if wisdom could be bought, the fool doesn’t have enough sense to make the purchase. The fool has no capacity for wisdom. We talked about real friendship – don’t confuse friendship with acquaintances. Real friends are hard to come by; developing true friendship takes time and effort. Fools are also bad with money. They don’t understand how financial issues can come between people. Someone that loves sin loves to argue. Know when to remain silent and don’t start arguments for the sake of arguments. You can’t choose how your children will turn out so do the best to raise your kids in a godly home because no parent likes to have a fool for a child.

The Wisdom of Silence

30 May

SilenceCheck out the podcast here.

Last week we learned that grandchildren are awesome and are a crown to old men. Grandparents should influence their grandchildren, but God’s design is for parents to raise their children not grandparents raise grandchildren. When I say this, please don’t think that I’m saying it’s sinful, wrong, or unethical for grandparents to raise their kid’s kids. We are in challenging times and we must adapt and overcome, and what a blessing it is to have grandchildren and grandparents in your lives. Excellent speech doesn’t taste good in the mouth of the fool just like speaking nonsense or lies is foreign to someone of high moral character – a quality all Christians should be growing in. Finally, Solomon told us that bribes work like magic, but you shouldn’t have to bribe someone to receive love or forgiveness. Today, we kick off a series of verses that relate to how we interact with others, but don’t seem to follow any particular pattern.

Pro. 17:9-11 says, “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends. A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. A rebellious man seeks only evil,
So a cruel messenger will be sent against him.”

Our first verse seems like a contrary principle from what we’ve already heard. “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.” The best way to have peace is to get along with everyone. That seems to be obvious. I’ve often said, you may not want to go on vacation with everyone, but you should be able to get along with others. If you want to maintain or establish a friendship with someone, you’ve got to be willing to overlook the faults of others, just like they need to be willing to overlook your faults. If you’re the one that doesn’t seem to make friends, you’re the only one that doesn’t get invited to the party, when you enter the room everyone else leaves, you’re the one that people don’t want to be around, you have to stop and ask yourself some really hard questions. Is it me? Am I hard to approach? Am I hard to get along with? Am I hard to like? Sometimes we default to, “Well, I’m very outspoken and people just need to deal with it.” “People don’t like me because I’m confident,” or “people don’t like me because I’m a Christian.” Solomon is not talking about a cover up or some other conspiracy, he’s talking about behavior with one another. Not every transgression needs to be punished with death or shunning. That’s what Solomon is saying here.   If something occurred because of forgetfulness, forget it. If something happened because it was an oversight, overlook it. Sometimes people that say others just need to get over something are the very ones holding onto something. That’s what he’s saying. Some things should be let go. There is a place for accountability, but there’s a place for grace and mercy too. One of the worst things you can do in a situation is talk about it with other people. Solomon says it this way, “But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.” As hard as this may be to believe, I have people ask me why other people did something to them. Often, I don’t even know the people to whom they are referring and I cannot imagine why a person would do something. I guess it comes with the territory, but I’m no mind reader. I don’t know why your co-worker has been a jerk to you. I don’t know why your neighbor’s dog seems like he’s out to get you. I don’t know why that stranger cut you off in traffic. I don’t know why your kid is being bullied. I don’t know why that telemarketer keeps calling. I can only chalk it up to the fact that we live in a fallen world and people sometimes don’t act right. It really is that simple. If your neighbor is a jerk, love them anyway. If your co-worker is mean, love them anyway. No good will come of repeating how jerky they are. If someone has an issue with you, don’t you want them to come and talk to you about it? In a society that seems to be offended by any perceived injustice, we need not be so easily offended. In Pro. 10:12 Solomon said, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.” One of the marks of a growing believer is that forgiveness comes easily because it’s supernaturally placed. That’s a great indicator that God is working in you.

These next verses are short, sweet, and stand alone. “A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” I really like this verse. Although at first glance this might appear to be an endorsement to smack someone around, it’s not. It’s hyperbole – exaggeration used for effect. Rebuke means to sharply criticize. In the spirit of 2 Tim. 2:15, we need to rightly divide the Word of God, so let me qualify this verse. Solomon has said this type of statement before. Someone who has understanding is someone that is continually undergoing the process of gaining wisdom. This type of person sees where you’re coming from and understands the goal. What’s the goal? Being conformed to the image of Christ. God puts all kinds of people in our lives to help us get there. It’s easy to automatically discount the guidance of another because your flesh rears its ugly head and says, “Who do they think they are!” You can hit the fool over the head with a wisdom stick and he still won’t get it because he lacks the fundamental requirement for godly wisdom and that’s God. Without a relationship with Christ, you can’t get to God. Without God, the wisdom someone might possess on a worldly basis is a poor imitation of godly wisdom. That’s why Solomon says a fool will not understand wisdom even if you try to beat it into him.

Solomon talks next about a rebel with a cause. “A rebellious man seeks only evil, so a cruel messenger will be sent against him.” You want to be a rebel? Rebellious means difficult to control or unmanageable. This rebel may be rebellious toward God, other people, or the government. It’s a general rebellious state and goes along with wickedness and ungodliness present in a fool. I think most people recognize rebellion and what it means, but what about “the cruel messenger” that’s going to be sent out against him? We typically think of cruel as a bad thing and Elvis told us, “Don’t be cruel.” All sin is rebellion against God and if we understand that principle then it seems likely we’re talking about a heavenly messenger. Ps. 78:49 says, “He sent upon them His burning anger, fury and indignation and trouble, a band of destroying angels.” We’re also familiar with the angel of death that came upon the firstborn of Egypt. What we can say for sure is that all rebellion against God will be dealt with in a completely just way.

The best way to obtain peace is to get along with everyone. That may not be the easiest thing, but as much as it’s up to you, be at peace with everyone. Love keeps no record of wrong doing so if you are wronged or feel you’ve been wronged, it’s better to let love cover it than it is to go around blabbing about how you’ve been wronged by humanity. It’s a lot easier to deal with wise people than with fools. Somebody that has understanding will get what you’re saying, but no matter how much talking you do, a fool just won’t get it. Rebellious people seek evil, but rest assured, judgment is coming.

The Lips of the Liar

16 May

LiarCheck out the podcast here.

Last week Solomon talked about life in the home. Is God the center of your home and there’s peace or is there weeping and gnashing of teeth? It’s much better to be at peace and be hungry than to have all you want with stress. There’s no shame in serving others, in fact one of Jesus’ purposes during His earthly life was to give us examples of serving others. A wise servant has more worth than a shameful son, but that doesn’t mean the son is worthless. How do you fare in God’s heart tests? Are you looking forward to getting a participation trophy? Are you hoping to be graded on the curve or are you allowing the trials of life to refine and purify you trusting in God’s glorious plans for you? This morning, Solomon talks about the destructiveness of the tongue.

In our passage today Solomon says, “An evildoer listens to wicked lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue. He who mocks the poor taunts his Maker; he who rejoices in calamity will not go unpunished.” (Pro. 17:4-5)

There are people that live a life of lies. Some people believe their kids never do anything wrong. Some people believe everything they read online. Is this what Solomon is talking about? Have you ever met that guy? He’s the one that has done everything you’ve done, only better. Back in March 1985, there was a young, unknown comedian that appeared on the Johnny Carson Show.  He began his routine by stating he was a member of Pathological Liars Anonymous. He said that he didn’t always tell lies, but one day he told a lie and he got away with it. That man would later go on to marry Morgan Fairchild. This guy’s lies were outrageously unbelievable. This is a guy whose life is characterized by falsehood and deceit. Author Daniel Wallace said, “A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself.” (Daniel Wallace, The Kings and Queens of Roam) This is the type of guy Solomon is talking about. Click on the link: https://youtu.be/BAdroH89CsM

 “An evildoer listens to wicked lips.” The worthless man from Pro. 16:27 dug up evil. The perverse man in Pro. 16:28 spread strife. The slanderer separated intimate friends in Pro. 16:29. A man of violence enticed his neighbor in Pro. 16:30. Now Solomon talks about an evildoer. It’s really a double slam because evildoer and liar are one in the same person. The evildoer listens to lies and then goes on to tell them. Liars tell lies, but they also believe them which is kind of odd. A traveler comes to a fork in the road which leads to two villages. In one village the people always tell lies, and in the other village the people always tell the truth. The traveler needs to conduct business in the village where everyone tells the truth. A man from one of the villages is standing in the middle of the fork, but there is no indication of which village he is from. The traveler approaches the man and asks him one question. From the villager’s answer, he knows which road to follow. What did the traveler ask? The answer is, “Which road goes to your village?” If the person is from the truth telling village, he’s pointing to the truth village because he always tells the truth. If the person if from the lying village, he’d point to the truth village because he’s a liar. I know it’s a silly example, but there are people out there who really do not tell the truth.

Aside from breaking the Ten Commandments and numerous biblical principles, lying is very difficult. It’s hard to be a good liar because you have to remember the lies you told and who you told them to. That’s why it’s pretty easy to identify a liar. Solomon is talking about someone that is a habitual liar. They tell lies and they listen to lies. I’m not sure of anything that will ruin a relationship faster than being untruthful. Lying leads to a breach of trust, a loss of confidence, an unwillingness to listen. Once trust is broken, it’s extraordinarily difficult to build back up.

In another somewhat strange transition, Solomon changes subjects. “He who mocks the poor taunts his Maker.” Who would do this? It’s hard for us to really grasp what being poor is. For the past 20 years, the Census Bureau reported that there are about 30 million Americans living in poverty. There are roughly 328 million people in the U.S. which equates to about 9% of the population living in poverty. According to a Poverty Pulse poll conducted by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the vast majority of the general public defines poverty as being homeless and not being able to meet basic needs. According to the Heritage Foundation, “While material hardship definitely exists in the United States, it is restricted in scope and severity. The average poor person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines.” For comparison sake, to be considered impoverished in Romania as an individual, you make about $133 a month. In the U.S. it’s about $990 a month. Poor families in the U.S. do struggle, but according to reports, the struggle is not just for food and housing, but to pay for air conditioning, cable or satellite, internet, and cell phones. According to this same report, “In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation. In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.”

Why do I go into all this? There’s been a move in the church that we must be the hands and feet of Jesus and there are some that define that as feeding the poor and that’s it. They don’t preach a transformative power of Christ. They teach that you must demonstrate your faith by doing works that affect a small percentage of people. There is little to no discipleship, a lack of strong biblical teaching, and a lack of accountability. Spiritual growth and maturity are reduced to a faith that is manifested by works. Please understand, works are important in our faith. We demonstrate our faith by our works. Take the time and read Ja. 2:14-26. Yes, works are important, but without faith, works are dead. You can’t just assume that since people are involved in working or serving their community that there is a credible relationship with Christ. At the same time, you can’t profess a credible relationship with Christ and never lift a finger in service to Christ. Please don’t forget the fundamental purpose of the church found in the Great Commission of Matt. 28:19-20. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” That’s the primary mission of the church. Contrary to popular belief, our primary mission is not to conduct acts of mercy in the community. What’s really curious is that when you Google acts of mercy, the first 14 links are to Catholic organizations. What I cannot find supported in Scripture is the principle of the church conducting acts of mercy, but there are examples in which individuals should demonstrate these merciful acts. At the judgment recorded in Matt. 25:31-46, Jesus speaks of feeding, clothing, and visiting people, as well as a number of other things that we call acts of mercy. The sheep represent believers and they ask Jesus, “When did we see You hungry and feed You?” Jesus has separated the sheep from the goats placing the sheep on his right hand and the goats on His left. One of the key phrases of this passage often ignored, is the phrase, “These brothers of Mine,” in v. 40. Other translations say, “My brethren.” Jesus was relating serving needy believers with serving Him. Over the years, this has come to mean needy in general. I say all this to say you must have an understanding of what we are to do in the context of Scripture. James was incredibly accurate by saying you cannot separate works and faith. You cannot have spiritual maturity and transformation without resultant works of faith. At the same time, acts of work without spiritual transformation are simply works. Before anyone freaks out, there are biblical principles that support helping people. Gal. 6:10, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” 1 Tim. 6:18, “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good  works, to be generous and ready to share.” Titus 3:8 says, “be careful to engage in good deeds.” Based on these and other Scriptures, you cannot conclude the mark of righteousness of a church is to be engaged in doing good works in the community. Now, I want to be clear, I am not against doing any event or outreach that does good works for people that are in need. However, there must be an intentional process in mind to demonstrate the love of Christ that culminates in a Gospel message of some kind. I do not know of any example in Scripture, where someone saw the good works of another and concluded that Jesus is the Christ. We use that demonstration of the love of Christ as a springboard to share our faith. I don’t want to lead a church that is active in the community and dead in our hearts. I don’t want us to have the false idea that giving 500 meals a month or giving 100 winter coats out, or reroofing someone’s house means something.

Listen to the severity of what Solomon says, “He who mocks the poor taints his maker; he who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished.” In Pro. 14:31 Solomon warned against oppressing the poor and now he adds mocking. Jesus told the disciples, “For you always have the poor with you.” (Matt. 26:11) Solomon is talking about making light of someone’s misfortune. There is some connection with that misfortune and a resultant calamity. If you get excited or are happy about someone’s misfortune, there’s a problem with that. To put in a context we might understand more easily, have you ever thought something along the lines of, “They got what they deserved.” It’s easy to make that conclusion and ignore the grace that has been extended to you. This is a very difficult concept to apply because we are so blind to what is occurring in our own life, but we can so clearly see in the lives of others. In Matt. 7:3-5 Jesus talks about removing the log from your own eye. People have wrongly concluded this means you can’t point out other’s shortcomings or sins. It doesn’t mean that at all.

Lying is one of those character traits that you do not want to be known for. I think sometimes we confuse our truth with real truth. As believers, we must uphold the truth in our speech and in our actions. We have an obligation to help the needy, but our primary mission is to live our lives authentically for Christ which means sharing the truth of who Christ is. Never glory in the misfortune of others. We love when mercy and grace are extended to us and we must endeavor to exercise mercy and grace to others and balance that with accountability for our actions. Sometimes that can be a tough balancing act, but I assure you, if you follow the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit and through Scripture, you won’t go wrong.

A Matter of Trust

21 Mar

trustYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we learned that God has provided us with the latest, up to date, accurate road map that offers a guarantee on finding the destination . . . if we’ll just use it. Staying on God’s highway will cause you to depart from evil. It doesn’t mean evil will be eliminated from your life, but it won’t take hold of you because you evaluate it from God’s perspective. Solomon tied the dreadful sin of pride with robbery – an angle you may not have previously looked at. The prosperity of the thief is short lived, so that’s not even an option for the Christ follower. Society tells us life is all about us, but that’s a deviation from God’s plan. Life here on earth is all about God and life in eternity is all about God. You’ve probably heard that you can’t trust anyone, but this morning, we’ll see how trust plays into real life.

Proverbs 16:20-23 says, “He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. The wise in heart will be called understanding, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it,
But the discipline of fools is folly. The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips.”

Who can you trust? It’s a question often asked. Some people will say, “You can’t trust anyone.” Others will say you can’t trust certain people. There are people that have betrayed your trust that resulted in you trusting no one and then conclude, “I have trust issues.” You’ve heard me say, “You can trust me.” So what’s Solomon talking about? He says, “He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.”  So we have to first know what the word is. Pro. 13:13 says, “The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.” Solomon is talking about a willingness to place yourself under the authority of the written Word of God. Just because someone doesn’t like the Bible, understand it, believe it, or follow it, doesn’t mean it’s not applicable. People can disagree and hate the Bible, but it doesn’t make it less applicable to them. Even if they don’t know everything in it, they’re still accountable to it and so are we as believers. When you pay attention to the commandments, teachings, and principles of Scripture, you’ll find good. Good in this verse means pleasant and joyful; that which pleases the senses or give moral satisfaction. Paul uses the Greek form of the word good when he says, “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Rom. 7:12)

We don’t need to be afraid of the word of God because it brings life changing instruction for us. “Blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” That means that you lay aside what you don’t understand and you simply place your confidence in the One that created all that you see around you. You place your complete confidence in the One that hand crafted the human body. You place your complete trust in the One that keeps the stars in the sky, that causes the earth to continue rotating that gives us night and day, that gives us glorious sunrises and sunsets. You’re placing your complete confidence in the One that knows tomorrow as well as He knows yesterday. It is a choice and the choice is yours. Remember, this phrase is attached to the previous phrase about giving attention to the word. It’s the written word of God. When you read it, study it, and get to know the Author of it, it becomes easier to place your complete confidence in the Lord.

The proof is in the pudding. Most people that you are around probably have a good idea about who you really are. It’s very difficult to hide your true identity from those people that you spend a lot of time with. Your family, co-workers, and classmates probably are not fooled by who you really are. Sometimes, people of faith go undercover. Don’t be afraid of revealing your true identity of faith. Don’t apologize for being a follower of Christ. If you’re a true follower, you’ll never be able to hide it anyway because you will be different. That’s what Solomon is saying here, “The wise in heart will be called understanding, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” Let’s break this down and start with, “The wise in heart.”  The heart is the same heart that Solomon refers to as the center of who you are that we’ve seen numerous times. If you’re wise in heart, it’s who you are regardless of how you came to be like that. Contextually, we’re talking biblical wisdom as we’ve seen before. I think we’ve established throughout this study that real wisdom comes from God; real wisdom comes from  understanding the Bible and when you have that understanding, other people will recognize it in you. That’s why you will be called understanding.

Our behavior says a lot about who we are. If you have some time, I encourage to look at Acts 11:19-26. The people recognized their actions and called them Christians. It happened in Antioch first because the people were acting like Christ and other people called them Christians. We didn’t come up with the description ourselves. Other people saw Christ in these early disciples and concluded they were like Him. When you are wise in heart, the conclusion is that you are controlled by Christ. Since you’re controlled by Christ, you have the fruit of self-control. Since you have self-control, you’re able to control what, when, and how you say things. This is the, “Sweetness of speech” in the verse. The Hebrew word for sweetness can also be translated pleasant and persuasiveness is better translated learning. When we take it all together, Solomon is conveying the idea that when wisdom fills your heart, you’re able to increase learning in others. People will be drawn to you to find out what makes you tick; they’ll seek you out for answers to life’s issues because you exude wisdom, not in a haughty arrogant way, but a confidence in knowing who you serve.

This leads directly into the next verse. “Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, but the discipline of fools is folly.” We’ve seen where understanding comes from. I’m not talking about understanding how atoms split to make energy or how an engine works. I’m talking about understanding what really matters. I think we’ve been pretty clear about that. The only thing that matters here is preparation for eternity. We all need a fundamental understanding of what is at stake so we have the proper perspective. When Jesus came to earth and walked around Galilee and Jerusalem, it wasn’t just to teach great things or provide an example to follow. He understood the importance of what He was called to do. I think many of us discount the importance of what we are called to do. That fountain of life flows freely from those who have the understanding of their purpose. The purpose I’m talking about is far more important than a vocation. We have a vocation to fund our primary calling and that primary calling is the same for every believer. We are to point people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. When a believer has that purpose in mind, it’s like a free flowing fountain that satisfies all who drink from it.

The opposite is also true. “But the discipline of fools is folly.” Discipline here doesn’t mean punishment, it means learning. You’ve heard of academic disciplines. That’s the meaning here. Solomon is talking about areas of learning, but it can also be applied to the nonsense that fools teach. Foolish people tend to get more and more foolish because as they live their lives in their foolishness, they tend to move farther and farther away from wisdom. Solomon gives us another restated verse when he says, “The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips.”

Trusting people can be a difficult thing to do, but God is not asking you to trust Him without good reason. When you get to know the God of the Bible, you’ll see He is exactly who He says He is and you really can trust Him. When you trust Him, you’ll be blessed – you’ll find favor with God. When you gain knowledge of God through the Bible, you’ll also gain understanding which leads to wisdom. That wisdom is easily recognized by people around you and provides them a limitless refreshing fountain of life if they’ll only listen to the godly wisdom that is contained within you. Fools don’t have that persuasiveness of speech. They just have nonsense. When it comes to eternity, don’t be a fool.

A Positive Light

25 Jan

LightCheck out the podcast here.

Last week Solomon told us there is no instance where a life of crime is an option for authentic followers. If you profit illicitly, your household is in danger, and I would encourage you to seek the Lord to turn from your wicked ways. Think carefully and cautiously before engaging in any form of communication. Ponder answers before speaking your mind. Remember that bitter and sweet water cannot come out of the same well. If you have a real relationship with Christ, be sure that He hears your prayers. This morning, we’ll finish up chapter 15 as Solomon gives us some very timely and uplifting advice.

Solomon closes the chapter in Pro. 15:30-33 by saying, “Bright eyes gladden the heart; good news puts fat on the bones. He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.”

Things are always easier to see in the daylight. Solomon starts off by saying, “Bright eyes gladden the heart.” If you’re a movie buff, you’ll remember the character Bright Eyes in the Planet of the Apes movies. Bright Eyes was the nickname given to astronaut George Taylor played by Charlton Heston. The nickname was given because of his blue eyes. The bright eyes Solomon is talking about is because of the sun. There is something regenerative about the sun. Eccl. 11:7 says, “The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun.” You can always tell when our submariners come home from patrol, particularly when they return in the summer. They are pasty white and look pretty sickly. The sun is a vital source of vitamin D and provides a whole list of benefits. There is an entire science behind the sun called heliotherapy. This is what Solomon is talking about. By seeing the sun and all its benefits, it points to God’s wonderful creation. Without the sun, it wouldn’t take long for life on earth to die out. I checked out Popular Science’s website and discovered people have actually spent some time researching what to do in the event the sun died. I don’t believe that’s going to happen since God is the One that sustains it. The sun is great to be in and reflects the incredibleness of God.

In what looks like a different principle, Solomon then says, “Good news puts fat on the bones.” I know that there are people still working to take off those holiday pounds and you might be thinking, “Don’t tell me any good news!” This is a metaphor as Solomon is so prone to giving us. Hearing good news is satisfying. Good news is like a wonderful meal eaten with family and friends. It’s refreshing. It’s fulfilling. It’s enjoyable. Think about that time when you were told you got the job, or your vacation was approved, or you got the house, or that you’re expecting a child. Think about the times when you heard your kids were doing awesome in school or when someone told you what a joy it is to have them around. Think about when your friends tell you how the words you gave them helped. I don’t think there’s a person alive in their right mind that doesn’t enjoy hearing good news.

Have you ever seen those, “Look up and live” signs? The idea of that safety campaign is that there is danger from things that are overhead like power lines. If you look up before putting up that ladder, you minimize the chance of being electrocuted. Solomon says, “He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.” Listen up and live. You need to listen carefully to what is being said to you or to those around you. Just because you hear things on the TV from famous people doesn’t make it so. Just because you hear something from me, don’t blindly trust me. Check out what I say to make sure I’m telling you the truth. I’m not going to purposefully mislead you, but I’m just a guy.  You will not offend me by checking out what I say against the Bible. Now if you want to challenge me on something, please make sure you’ve done your research. Don’t quote a childhood pastor or Sunday School teacher, don’t quote your parents, don’t quote a book you read, quote the Bible and not what someone else says the Bible says.

Solomon is talking about, “life-giving reproof.” Reproof means correction. One of the characteristics of wise people is that they are willing to be corrected. They’re willing to learn from their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. They’re surrounded by people whose actions and words demonstrate a life devoted to Christ and His Word. There is a willingness to be accountable, a desire to grow, an intentional path to be like Christ. If that describes you, then Solomon says you’ll dwell among the wise. As is typically the case, Solomon offers the contrast by saying, “He who neglects discipline despises himself.” These can be people in or out of the church and they’re from all walks of life. They’re people that will not listen to sound biblical principles. They’re people that don’t want to hear it. There can be a whole list of reasons why. Not applicable to them. God doesn’t care what they do, He’s irrelevant, etc., etc. It’s a whole lot easier for me to let those type of comments slide when those people do not profess to be followers of Christ. It’s a whole different thing when someone professes a relationship with Christ that doesn’t want to hear biblical truth, that doesn’t want correction, doesn’t want accountability, doesn’t want knowledge of Christ, doesn’t want to have anything to do with the church or Christ followers. I have a problem with people that profess they are Christians and really are not. Maybe you’re thinking, wow, that’s really judgmental. I’ll let you in on a little secret. We have changed the definition of Christian. In the old days, being a Christian meant you were a follower of Christ. Follower is defined as an adherent or devotee of a particular person, cause, or activity. So if you profess to be a follower of Christ – a Christian, that means you would be devoted to Him. That means you would follow His teachings, His principles, His example. I know this is a simple and probably dumb example, but if you say you love Georgia football (or insert any favorite sports team), but hate going to or watching the games, don’t know anything about the coaching staff or players, don’t know where the university is, and don’t know what the mascot is, anybody with half a brain would conclude that Georgia is not your team. Making a decision to become a follower of Christ is voluntary. No one made you decide. If you have decided to follow Jesus and there is no marginalization of being a follower – you either are or you’re not – there are no fair weather Christians. What’s stopping you from being who God wants to be in Christ? Is it because you despise instruction? Don’t you see how contrary that is to a life devoted to Christ? Matthew Henry says, “The fundamental error of sinners is undervaluing their souls, therefore they neglect to provide for them, expose them, prefer the body before the soul, and wrong the soul to please the body.”

Of the authentic follower of Christ Solomon says, “But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.” Notice he uses the word listen which means to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing. You’re not just hearing what’s being said. It gets in your brain and you evaluate the words, the tone, the vocal inflection, the eye contact, and the body language. It’s called communication people! When that process is used, there’s understanding. Understanding means to perceive the meaning of; grasp the idea of something. It means to know the meaning of something, such as the words that someone is saying. I’m hammering this because we say we understand Scripture, but then don’t do what it says so we either don’t get it or we don’t care. One is significantly worse than the other.

We’ve heard this before. Solomon closes out the chapter by saying, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes wisdom.” This is the idea that God knows best, His ways are way above our ways, His ways are best and He doesn’t need our advice on how best to handle things. Taking it all the way back to the beginning of the book, remember Pro. 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” When we follow biblical principles and acknowledge who God is, we continue to walk on the path of sanctification – day by day growing more and more like Jesus. Knowing and acknowledging that Jesus is the reason for all the change. Jesus is the reason for our ability to love, to forgive, to be patient and empathetic, to be courageous. Jesus is the reason for who we are becoming. “And before honor comes humility.” Honor is a difficult term to define. The word is used in many mottos and vision statements. Members of the Navy serves with honor, courage and commitment. Officers of the St. Marys Police Department serve with honor, integrity, respect, and courage. Cadets at West Point have duty, honor, and country in the front of their minds. It even crosses to sports. The Chicago Fire soccer club plays with tradition, honor, and passion. It means great respect or esteem. Solomon is saying that you’ll never achieve honor without acknowledging how you came to be who you are.

Acknowledge the Creator and grow fat on the good news that is available because of Jesus Christ. All of us need to listen up and learn. Listen to those wonderful, godly, authentic people God has put in you path. Acknowledge who God is and what He has done in your life and watch what He will do in you and through you. That’s how we become a positive light in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our communities.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

9 Nov

LuLu PiercyYou can check out the podcast here.

Last time in Proverbs, Solomon said everything about the wicked is a stench to God. God wants everyone to come to the conclusion that He is the only way. His ways are right and holy and pure, but time is running out. There is a time coming that will be too late, where the choice made is an eternal choice. You can do it your way and spend eternity separated from Him or do it His way and spend eternity with Him. It seems like it’s an easy choice. This morning, Solomon talks more about the wicked and how they really are and he minces no words.

Our passage today comes from Pro. 15:12-15 where Solomon says, “A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise. A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken. The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly. All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.”

Here’s another way to say it. Solomon really wants us to understand the mindset of the fool. He uses many words to describe what he calls a fool. We’ve seen wicked, unrighteous, naive, simple, treacherous, and now he uses scoffer once again. “A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise.” This is the same scoffer from 1:22 who, “delight themselves in their scoffing.” Let me remind you that scoff means to speak of something in a derisive or mocking manner. If you try and correct the scoffer, he will not be happy about it. I can honestly say at first reading, I had no idea why Solomon would use the word love in this verse. As I thought about it, it makes sense. Think about why you tell people the truth even when you are pretty confident it will lead to heartache. I have to conclude the reason we open ourselves up for attacks is that we have an overwhelming sense of love for people. That love can only come from God and we’re willing to lay aside whatever animosity or hatred comes our way because we really believe that Jesus is the only way and that should mean something in our everyday lives. In the context of Proverbs, when wisdom is mentioned, it’s godly wisdom. It’s the knowledge of God that leads to wisdom. The scoffer makes fun of our commitment to Christ, makes fun of our attitudes, the way we raise our kids, the work we do for Jesus and the church, makes fun of every aspect of our lives. They don’t get it. As a result, the scoffer doesn’t come to us for guidance or advice. Even though we may be experiencing the same things they are, our attitude is different, our outlook is different, our countenance is different, our speech is different; everything about us as believers is different and they don’t want to hear about how Jesus is the answer to all of life’s problems.

This is a great segue into the next verse. “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face.” Have you ever heard the expression weaned on a dill pickle? The phrase was coined by Alice Roosevelt Longworth in 1924. She was the oldest daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt and was referring to President Coolidge. Do an image search for Calvin Coolidge and you’ll see exactly what Alice was talking about. Solomon says if you have joy in your heart, then your face should reflect that joy. A smile can change a lot. Neh. 8:10 tells us, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” The Apostle Paul said in Gal. 5:22 that you have been given joy as part of the spiritual fruit basket. The joy believers have is supernatural joy. Happiness is dependent in circumstances, but real joy comes from the Lord. Joy is found over 200 times in the Bible and often is found alongside shouting and singing. Rejoice is another form of the word and is used over 200 times in the Bible. We often use joy and happiness synonymously, but they are different. A cheerful face can brighten a room, or a house, or a church. I think most of us would prefer to be around people that are full of joy. I don’t want you to think of joy as a temporary emotion.

Solomon knows this because he says, “But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.” We see this all the time. Circumstances can cause us to feel sad. That’s why I’m always skeptical of people that act as though nothing in the world is wrong. Their kids are always perfectly behaved and on the honor roll. Their spouse is the most wonderful, loving, caring, kind, thoughtful person in the world that does no wrong. Their job is so awesome all the time that they really would go to work for free. They’ve got the most wonderful family and don’t even have a weird cousin or crazy uncle. Their appliances always work, their car never breaks down, and their house never needs repair, their grass never needs cutting. They never get sick and neither does anyone else in the family. They never struggle to make ends meet and they enjoy vacations two or three times a year. They even have awesome neighbors. There are plenty of things going on around us that will and should cause us sadness. “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” (Ps. 94:19) The reminders of Scripture about who God is provide the hope for us to trust in Him.

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” That phrase was and continues to be the slogan for the United Negro College Fund. Solomon says, “The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge.” Notice that it in the present tense. There will never come a time when you know enough, where you have thought enough, where you have studied enough – learning is a lifelong process and that’s what the smart guy does. It’s not knowledge for the sake of knowledge. The expectation is that knowledge leads to wisdom. Matt. 7:7 says, “Seek and you will find.” Too many people want to have found knowledge without doing the seeking. Peter commands us to, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 3:18) Again the contrast to the person seeking knowledge is the fool. “But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.” Picture a buffet of nonsense and that’s what the fool feeds on. He eats foolishness like a ravenous wolf. That’s what satisfies him. He is driven by passion and a hunger for foolishness. That’s why it seems like foolish people get foolisher.

Is it really that bad for the fool? He eats all of the metaphorical food he wants on an endless buffet of nonsense. Can it really be that bad being foolish? “All the days of the afflicted are bad.” When Solomon uses the word all, he means every. The term afflicted is used synonymously with wicked, foolish, simple, naïve, scoffer, etc. Every day is bad because there is no relationship with Christ. There is no rest in Him, no comfort in Him, no strength in Him, no patience in Him, no love in Him, no perseverance in Him, there is nothing in Him because the foolish do not know Him. “But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.” All the things the fool lacks because he does not know God are available in Christ for the righteous. Endless comfort, strength, hope, mercy, grace, and love as well as an unending buffet of spiritual nourishment.  It’s bad for the fool just because he does not know God and it is good for the righteous simply because he does know God.

If you’re happy and you know, then your life should surely show it. As Christians we are cheerful not because of the ever changing circumstances of life. We are cheerful because regardless of those circumstances, Jesus is there. Smile because of Jesus.

Thank You Father, May I Have Another?

12 Oct

KidYou can check out the podcast here.

Last week Solomon gave us some tried and true principles that I called MVPs. The Bible is filled with them. Make sure your speech is edifying. Use your words to provide what people need to live victoriously for Jesus. Satan is the biggest pervertor of things that are godly and holy and righteous.  Don’t be fooled by his twistilations. This morning, Solomon gives us some wisdom regarding the mouth.

Our passage comes from Pro. 15:5-7 that says, A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible. Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, but trouble is in the income of the wicked. The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not so.

Solomon gets right to it. Having a child that is foolish might be one of the most difficult aspects of parenting. If you think your kids are not foolish, think again. Remember a biblical fool is one that has the right answer or the right thing to do presented to them and chooses not to do it. Biblical fools can’t recognize wisdom even when it slaps them in the face because they are unregenerate sinners. Each of us can be foolish at times, but that’s not how we should be characterized. In 13:24 Solomon talked about correcting behavior that is not godly, that’s not consistent with the standard. In 13:1 Solomon said, “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline.” Here he says, “A fool rejects his father’s discipline.” Reject is better translated despise. This shows you how deep in the heart foolishness resides. Discipline is also translated correction. This can be applied in a wide variety of ways. There is a typically a period of time in most kid’s lives where nobody knows as much as they do. It generally starts about middle school and continues into the teenage years. In many cases it lasts well into high school and college. Part of this is a desire to be independent and out from under the blanket of authority and safety provided by parents. The foolish kid rejects correction from his father. It is despised for any number of reasons. Perhaps because of the dreaded “h” word – hypocrisy. Dad says don’t smoke while puffing away. Dad says finish school and get a good job while he sits at home not working and not looking. Dad says do your chores and does nothing around the house.

“But he who regards reproof is sensible.” Solomon’s assumption is that the correction comes from a godly, loving father. I know this isn’t always the case, but since we’re using the Bible as our guide and we’re in church, this is the direction that I am coming from. Kids ought to listen to their fathers. They have experienced more than you. They have had failures and made poor decisions. Learn from them so that you do not repeat their mistakes. These are things the sensible kid does. There most likely will come a time when a kid realizes that dad was right. For some, the realization comes too late. You might remember lessons your dad taught you while you were a child and now that you’re all grown up, you’ve come to understand the wisdom that he had.

Don’t misinterpret this next one. “Great wealth is in the house of the righteous.” If you’re thinking, we don’t have great wealth at our house you have to follow that up with the question, “Are we righteous?” If you immediately think of money, think again. We have Americanized this verse and equate it with material wealth. That interpretation only works in first world countries. We typically assume that first world country means countries like us. We’ve heard of third world countries, but have you ever wondered about second world countries? Those terms come from a model developed after World War II and generally refer to geopolitical positions. Countries that allied themselves with the United States were termed first world. These countries are generally capitalistic, developed, and industrialized. These are countries in western Europe like Belgium, France, Spain and also the land down under – Australia. It also includes other countries like Israel, Japan, and South Korea. Second world countries were typically communist or socialist that allied themselves with the mighty USSR that today include countries in northern and eastern Europe like Russia, Latvia, Bulgaria, and my beloved Romania. A third world country doesn’t fit into either category and include capitalist countries like Venezuela and communist countries like North Korea. We often use this term to describe developing and undeveloped nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Included in this third world are very rich countries like Saudi Arabia and very poor countries like Mali.

Of the roughly 7 billion people living on planet earth, only about 15% live in first world countries. It hardly makes sense that the wealth Solomon refers to would mean dollars. This is yet another example of why we need to study the Scriptures for ourselves. There is a whole segment of the church that wants to equate material wealth with God’s blessing. The wealth – or better translated treasure – that Solomon refers to is something far better than silver or gold. What price do you put on grace? Or forgiveness? Or mercy? Or hope? Or patience? Those gifts of God are priceless and are a result of righteousness. That doesn’t mean there won’t be material wealth, but even when there isn’t money in the account, the treasures of God are in the storehouses of the righteous.

“But trouble is in the income of the wicked.” You can read that as actual income or what comes into the home. There is guilt and shame; pride and passion. There is envy and strife. Maybe you know someone or a family that could be classified as wicked and maybe they seem to be prospering by every definition of the word. Remember 14:32: “The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing.” God will mete out perfect justice at some point that will bring greatest glory to Himself. You focus on doing what you ought to do and let God handle what He ought to do.

Here’s another variation of an MVP. “The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not so.” We just heard this in verse 2. This demonstrates just how much a blessing that wise person is and how burdensome a fool is. This verse also alludes to the idea that we need to be teaching others. Spread means to open out as to increase in surface area. Your knowledge, which leads to wisdom, should be scattered for all to pick up. Keep in mind what Solomon said about wisdom resting in the heart. There is a balance between telling everyone everything you know and using your knowledge and wisdom in appropriate settings. I believe that God will provide opportunities for you to demonstrate your knowledge and wisdom. I think all too often we’re looking for those life changing, global moments that for most of us will never come. What we fail to see is that God provides huge, eternity impacting opportunities each and every day. For most of us, living a life of authenticity is the best opportunity for others watching us to know that something is different. Knowledge is spread when you open your mouth and share the truth of God. Your knowledge of God is transformed into wisdom because the Holy Spirit gives you exactly what you need when you need it.

So there are ministry opportunities God provides, but another area is personal teaching. It presents itself in the area of discipleship. Who are you investing in? The people you hang out with, are you seeking to disciple them? As a church, our primary mission is to, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20) The emphasis is on make disciples. Jesus said we do this in two ways. If you’re hanging out with people and Jesus is not part of those interactions, then something is dreadfully wrong. “But the hearts of fools are not so.” The fool has no desire to spread the truth of God because he doesn’t know it. Fool and knowledge don’t belong in the same sentence. If you have the knowledge of God and do not use it to further the Kingdom of God, don’t use it to share the good news of salvation, don’t use it to strengthen other’s walk with Christ, then you are a fool.

Nobody likes to get spanked, and nobody likes to do the spanking. Discipline helps us get back on the correct path. Fools reject that correction. When you’re being corrected, regardless of your age, look for God in that correction. The treasures of God don’t always equate to money so don’t be fooled into thinking wealth equals righteousness. Finally, use the opportunities God provides to share the truth of who He is and how much He loves people. Take the time to disciple those in your sphere of influence. That will be the greatest legacy we can leave.

Tried and True

5 Oct

tried-and-trueCheck out the podcast here.

Last week Solomon said destruction awaits those that are wicked. Followers of Christ have His righteousness and as a result have a refuge in Him. Wise people know when to demonstrate the wisdom they have obtained through knowledge in God, they don’t have to go around advertising it. A nation exalts God when it does what is right in God’s eyes. Be a good servant in the example of Christ. This morning, Solomon gives us some wisdom regarding the mouth

Here’s our passage for today found in Pro. 15:1-4: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good.
A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.

We start off with an incredible principle. All of the principles in the Bible are true and most can be applied to our everyday lives. Some principles though are so incredible they really stand out. Some principles are more important than others in the Bible too. Speaking to the religious crowd of the day, Jesus said in Matt. 23:23, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” Some principles are higher than others in Scripture. It doesn’t mean they’re not important. In sports you’ve heard the term most valuable player. All the players on a team are valuable. Some are more valuable. It’s the same principle here.

I think the first principle we look at today could be considered an MVP – most valuable principle. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Since gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, every believer has the ability to put this principle into practice. Gentle means mild in temperament or behavior, not harsh or severe. This MVP can be applied in any situation where there is interaction between at least two people. When tensions rise for whatever reason, soft words can quell the strife. You’ve seen this first hand I am sure. It can be in interactions with your boss, your teacher, your coworker, your spouse, or the clerk at the store. You can diffuse the situation or you can exacerbate it. You can be a help to the situation or you can be a hindrance. Not only do you have that heavenly gift of gentleness, you also have self-control. That means you don’t have to respond the way you’re being talked to. It can be very difficult to respond gently when you’re being yelled at. Yell back and it will only get worse. I encourage you to put this into practice and watch how things change. Easy? No, but it’s definitely the best way to handle things. We have a natural way to handle things and that’s to fight back, to yell back, to respond the same, but we have something supernatural in us that gives us the ability to be different. Not only is this an MVP, it’s an excellent way to minimize the possibility of feeling horrible regret later. I know there have been times I have not responded with this principle. As I recall, it always led to conviction and deep regret. This led to doing something even harder – apologize for my ungodly behavior. It’s not always that I yelled. It’s that I used words that were not respectful or edifying. I would offer that if you can gain godly control over your tongue, your life would be incredibly transformed.

The second principle goes hand in hand with the first. “The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly.” The person who uses wisdom when speaking makes the truth more palatable. Do not misunderstand; I am in no way, shape, or form saying compromise the truth or water down the truth or give partial truth. Just because something is true does not mean you need to go out of your way to provide someone that truth. I often refer to social media because it has become such a big part of our lives. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, it just is. If you want to test what Solomon is saying, post something that is absolutely true in accordance with Scripture and watch the attacks start. Keep in mind that you put this on your own Facebook page and depending on your privacy settings, the hateful comments will start rolling in. Many of these comments come from your friends. So you have to ask yourself, who are you allowing in your life and why? Use wisdom when speaking the truth. There are appropriate times and places to share the truth. As a pastor and Chaplain, I’m often called into action in some of the most tragic situations. Suicides. Marital strife or domestic violence. Fatal accidents. Unruly children and cheating spouses. I have learned and continue to learn discretion when dealing with these events. I have learned that speaking the truth even while preaching can be hurtful to hear. I’m not going to not tell the truth, but I want to exercise wisdom in doing so. I want to be careful so that people will hear the truth that can set them free in order to change their lives. It is that serious. Fools just say whatever comes to mind. No filter, no discretion, no thought. That’s because what’s inside will come out.

Solomon shifts from the tongue to God’s eyes and in the next verse says you can run, but you can’t hide. There are some people that are convinced God doesn’t know what’s going on in the world or else He would do something about it. There is nowhere that God is not. There is nothing that God does not see. Solomon says, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good.” There’s a song I remember from 1984 where the bridge lyrics are, “I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me and I have no privacy. Oh, I always feel like somebody’s watching me. Tell me is it just a dream?” God is always watching, but not in a creepy, voyeuristic way. I encourage you to read Ps. 139 which is a wonderful testimony of David regarding God’s omniscience and omnipresence. There is no where you can go where God is not there. He watches the good and the evil. The righteous will be rewarded while the wicked will be punished. In my study of Scriptures, I am filled with an overwhelming sense that the biblical writers expected people who have an authentic relationship with Christ will do good; they’ll behave in manners that are pleasing to God, that will seek to do His will, that will seek to further His Kingdom; they will seek to passionately walk the straight and narrow path – that’s what I see modeled over and over in Scripture.

It’s only been in recent times that we have taken on a lackadaisical attitude in our commitment to Christ. It’s only recently that we’re satisfied with mediocrity, where Christ has taken a back seat to the things of this world. It’s only recently that people have become satisfied in meeting with Jesus on occasion so we have to ask ourselves, what has changed? Heb. 13:8 reminds us that, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” God calls Himself, “I am” present tense.          Since God has not changed, we can only conclude that we have changed. The same Holy Spirit exists with the same power so how can we get to a place where His power is restored? I think a primary thing we can do is say no to ourselves and say yes to Jesus. I have grown weary of professing believers that ignore biblical wisdom, that have beliefs based on popular opinion and cultural feelings, that say one thing and do another. I would never suggest doing this, but I wonder how our marriages would be destroyed if we approached our spouse with the same casualness we approach God. God sees the evil and good in the world and He understands why people do what they do, He sees into the secret areas of your life, the places you don’t want anyone else to go. What totally amazes me when I think like this is that God still has an infinite, unconditional love for you and for me. He loves the righteous and the unrighteous.

And now it’s back to the tongue. Many of us are familiar with the tree of life in Gen. 2:9. Solomon has also spoken of a tree of life. He called wisdom a tree of life in 3:18. He said the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life in 11:30. He spoke of fulfilled desire as a tree of life in 13:12. And now, “A soothing tongue is a tree of life.” Like the heart, when Scripture speaks of the tongue, it’s rarely talking about what’s in your mouth. It’s about the words you say. Those words can bring comfort to a grieving soul. Those words can bring the Gospel that will revive a dead soul, can bring encouragement to a weary soul, can bring correction to a wayward soul; those words can bring reconciliation to a troubled soul. The contrast is that, “Perversion in it crushes the spirit.” Perverse here is used in the sense of perverting the truth. It means to twist or distort. These perversions have been used since the garden when Satan told Eve, “You surely will not die.” (Gen. 3:4) Satan is a twistilator. He has been and continues to be the greatest perverter of all time. He has perverted sexuality. In fact, he perverted it so bad that God had to include specific details as to what was forbidden when He gave the Law to Moses. Our speech is to be used to praise the Lord and build people up, but he perverted that so much that we have numerous passages directly referencing how we talk.  Paul said, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Eph. 4:29) Satan also perverted justice. From the deceptive business practices we saw in Pro. 11:1 to the killing of innocent people mentioned in Ex. 23. Our attitude should be like that found in Is. 1:17, “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

There are tried and true principles in Scripture. MVPs. Use them not as magical incantations, but as principles that God gave us to live by and glorify Him. There is nowhere out of God’s eye or beyond His reach. Use your speech to edify people and draw them to live passionately for Christ. Don’t be shocked that Satan wants to twist everything you say or do. Keep moving forward for Christ.

Wicked Destruction

28 Sep

DestructionCheck out the podcast for this message here.

Last week Solomon told us to be afraid in an awesome reverent manner when it comes to God. We know it’s the beginning of knowledge which leads to wisdom. People who are quick tempered are foolish, but the one that is slow to anger reflects great understanding. Envy and jealousy will rot you from the inside out. Extend grace to the poor because that honors God. This morning, Solomon gives us some more comparisons between the wicked and the righteous.

Pro. 14:32-35 says, The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing, but the righteous has a refuge when he dies. Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding, but in the hearts of fools it is made known. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. The king’s favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, but his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.

Here’s a sure thing. In our first verse, Solomon tells us with certainty that, “The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing.” There is something important here that I don’t want you to miss. Solomon has firmly established that there is no good in wicked people. You can be good by the world’s standards and wicked by God’s standards. The wicked do what the wicked do because they are unregenerate human beings. Sin sticks to them so closely that you cannot separate it. However, the Bible provides us with the formula to become unwicked. That process begins with the Gospel. Even though the vast majority of people in America believe in God or believe that God exists, it does not mean that they have a relationship with God. Everyone has a father, but you may not have a relationship with him. The relationship develops as you spend time with one another and relate to one another. The father can pursue the son all day long, but if the son refuses, there can be no relationship.

The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing, but the righteous has a refuge when he dies.” We’ve established that the righteous are righteous because of Christ. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20) The righteousness of God is given to us through our faith in Jesus Christ. We are not righteous in and of ourselves, but because of Christ. This is called imputed righteousness. Because of this, we have a refuge, a safe haven, a safe place called heaven. We look forward to it, but it’s not to be viewed as an escape. It’s not that we are excited about being dead. Assisted suicide, euthanasia, and suicide are not to be used as a means to get to heaven quicker in order to avoid the heartache of living in a fallen world. Sometimes you hear this veiled when people say that you have a right to die with dignity. That kind of teaching is not consistent with Scripture. Job 14:5 says, Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You; and his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.” Heaven is a refuge to those that trust in Christ, but there is work to be done while here. You have a mission to complete and you cannot bypass the responsibility God has given to you. Notice Solomon didn’t say anything about a refuge while alive. Paul declared, “For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)

Do you have to let everyone know how smart you are? In the next verse Solomon says, “Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding, but in the hearts of fools it is made known.” There is a difference in knowing it all and being a know it all. I admit I sometimes have trouble not answering questions when in a group setting. “Wisdom rests in the heart” is a great phrase. Remember when referring to the heart in Scripture, the Bible rarely means the organ. Rest means cease work or movement in order to relax or recover strength. I may have over analyzed this, but here’s the way I’m thinking. Knowledge is good and when it shifts from simply knowing something to applying it and living it out, it transforms into wisdom. The heart is where that wisdom grows and gets stronger. Some people want to get smarter and smarter and more knowledgeable, but for Solomon, that’s not the goal. I encourage you to read 2 Tim. 3:1-9. The goal of knowledge is to increase in wisdom and that takes place in the heart. All that to say that when you are biblically wise, you don’t need to tell people about it. It will be obvious to those who come into contact with you. He says this because, “in the heart of fools it is made known.” In order for a fool to recognize wisdom, you must thrust it upon them. The wise man doesn’t need to tell everyone how wise he is; people will see it. For the fool, even when wisdom stares him in the face, he doesn’t recognize it.

What was obvious in the past is now uncommon. When we evaluate the history of the Unites States, I think the next verse has been very applicable to us as a nation. “Righteousness exalts a nation.” In the grand scheme of the world, America is young. At 239 years old, we think we have always been around. Compared with South Sudan (July 2011), the newest country in the world, we are old. Since righteousness exalts a nation, we have to ask the question, what is right? Greek poet Hesiod (800 B.C.) said, “A nation’s real greatness consists not in its conquests, magnificence, military or artistic skill, but in its observance of the requirements of justice and religion.” When you evaluate the reasons countries are actually formed, that statement really rings true. The country of Sudan had been embroiled in a 22 year civil war where people in the south were oppressed and marginalized by the government. The people of the south are largely non-Arab and Christian people while people in the north are mainly Arab and Muslim. So the southern people fought for years to break free and finally liberated themselves and became South Sudan. The history of the world is truly fascinating.

When you evaluate the rightness of a nation, we have to evaluate it by the rightness of God. You have likely heard at some point America referred to as a city on a hill. While this is a warm and fuzzy sentiment, that’s not what Jesus was referring to in Matt. 5:14 in His Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was speaking to Israelites that had gathered outside of Jerusalem. The geographic location for the Sermon on the Mount is a literal hill on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. God had chosen this nation of people to be His people. He gave them an incredible promise in Abraham, “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3) God told Moses, “You shall be My own possession among all the peoples.” (Ex. 19:5) To Isaiah God said, “I will make you a light of the nations so that my salvation will reach to the end of the earth.” (Is. 49:6) The rightness of a nation is in the people that are in the nation. You see this in the good deeds a nation does. In fact, in that same city on a hill message Jesus gave, He said to the people assembled, “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” (Matt. 5:13) We don’t do good works for the sake of good works, but to point people to God. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

A nation exalts God when it does what is right in God’s eyes. The opposite is also true. “But sin is a disgrace to any people.” I think many people recognize the atrocities committed in the name of power. Hitler massacred 17 million people including 6 million Jews and 250,000 gypsies. Saddam Hussein massacred 2 million of his countrymen. While there might not be any modern day leaders like Hitler, there are ongoing atrocities in countries like Sudan, Eritrea, North Korea, Nigeria, as well as numerous others. That is an appropriate application, but Solomon is talking about Israel. Ps. 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Israel’s history is filled with trouble a plenty. Following their departure from Egypt, Israel had some issues. I encourage you to read what they were doing as Paul relates it in 1 Cor. 10:6-11.

Solomon closes out the chapter in v. 35, “The king’s favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, but his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.” Remember Solomon is king of Israel as he writes so he’s speaking from a personal perspective. There is no shame in serving another. Many people are in the serving business. From police, firefighters, and emergency responders to all medical professionals. From the hospitality industry to utilities. It’s hard to think of a single occupation that does not provide a service. Each of us is in a position to serve. Being low on the totem pole of responsibility does not diminish a person’s worth. Just because a person is not in a leadership position, doesn’t mean he’s not valuable. When you have a servant or putting it in a modern context – employee – that acts in a responsible, respectful, proper manner, the leader or supervisor is pleased. When you have someone that acts in the opposite manner, the boss gets upset.

The wicked of the world will get what’s coming to them by a just and perfect God. God is our refuge and our safe haven. That doesn’t guarantee that we will be free from harm, suffering, or hardship, but it does mean that God is always there right beside us. As Christ followers, we have a responsibility to act righteously and that brings glory to God. Be an excellent servant – employee – because that also brings God glory. Jesus even modeled this for us, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Matt. 10:45)