Better to Stink …

Proverbs 16:8

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.

Madoff Made Off?

Do you remember Bernie Madoff?

A few years back, right after the economy tanked, news came to light that this man was not running as fair a business as many had been led to believe.

Mr. Madoff told investors that he could take their money and grow it very quickly. Some people received exactly that, while with the rest of the money he and his family lived very, very well.

It turned out he had been running his business as a giant Ponzi Scheme, a system in which many people put in money in hopes of a great pay-off, but only a small few benefit from all of that money. When it was all revealed, thousands of people combined lost many billions of dollars.

Today Bernie Madoff sits in a prison cell, and he will be there for the rest of his life. His family has to live with the shame and guilt of what he has done.

Smelling to High Heaven

On the other hand, there are people who struggle to get by from week to week at their jobs.

What is truly amazing is that, while they my grumble about the fairness of the world from time to time, they tend to be rather happy with life. They know they are earning an honest living, and it is their hard work that provides for their loved ones.

One of my favorite quotes from the film Bruce Almighty was said by Morgan Freeman playing God: “Some of the happiest people in the world go home smelling to high heaven at the end of the day.”

Speaking of going to high heaven, Jesus said to those who follow Him:

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29, ESV)

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36, ESV)

We may have very little in this life, but if our life is lived for the sake of Christ we will one day get to have Him! There is nothing better.

Wonderful God, thank You for all You do and have done for us. Help us to live our lives entirely for You, that no matter if we have much or little, we have lived righteously and will one day see You face to face!

Common Sense

Proverbs 16:7

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Common Sense

Some things make perfect sense. Some things are so sensible that everyone agrees, hence the term “common sense.” However, there are some things that people find hard to understand, even though anyone with common sense would think it makes perfect sense.

Today’s proverb should be a no-brainer.

Pleasing Ways

Are you familiar with the Ten Commandments? I’m not talking about the movie with Charleton Heston, just the Commandments themselves.

If you haven’t read them in a while, why don’t we refresh ourselves with a few of them?

  • Don’t steal
  • Don’t murder
  • Don’t commit adultery
  • Don’t lie about your neighbor
  • Honor your father and mother
  • Don’t sit around desiring what’s not yours

If you want to live in such a way (ethically speaking) that will please the Lord, the above list is a good place to start, wouldn’t you think? What is more pleasing than not stealing, not murdering, not lying, not envying, etc.?

Peaceful Enemies

Believe it or not, doing what pleases the Lord (like not committing murder, not stealing from your employer, or not sleeping with your boss’s wife) is actually a good way to get ahead in the world. Common sense, wouldn’t you think?

I have worked with many atheists and agnostics, some of which hated what I believed, but none of them ever fired me for being a bad employee. Most gave high recommendations to my next employer. In one sense they were my “enemies,” but all in all they were peaceful. Why? Because my ways pleased the Lord.


What I found totally nonsensical was a story relating to the Ten Commandments being posted in a public school. I can’t remember where this exactly took place, but I do remember the reason the lawyers gave for removing the list from view…

“If the Ten Commandments are allowed to remain, then children will be tempted to do what they say.”

So my question is this: which is more pleasing, NOT committing murder, or gunning down kindergartners and teachers? Seems pretty simple, but I guess there is a shortage of common sense these days.


Mercy and Fear

Proverbs 16:6

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”
“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” (NKJV)

“He Could Break Me”

When I was young I had a healthy fear of my father. Even when I was a teenager, he was half again my size and could break me in two. The last thing I would have ever wanted was for my dad to strike me in anger, or worse, as an enemy. Thankfully, he loved me, especially when he “spared not the rod.”

Yes, my dad knew how to discipline in the old-fashioned way. He did not believe in “time outs.” Never once did he remind me to “make right choices.” If I made a wrong choice I found out about it real quick.

daddyBut the thing that I was most afraid of was not being punished by my dad for doing something stupid, it was breaking his heart. The worst punishment I could ever receive was to see a disappointed look in his eyes. I wanted him to be proud of me. I was more afraid of seeing a tear than getting whacked in the rear.

You see, my dad was a godly man…a simple man…a humble man…a very hard-working man. He worked multiple jobs, once even giving me his pay so that I could have work. He never raised his voice, but he could preach with authority. He was a true pastor, a faithful husband, and a friend to all. He did a lot for me that I will never know.

Proper Motivation

In today’s proverb Solomon speaks of mercy and forgiveness, but then he ends with “fear” being the motivation for correct behavior. What should be noted is that “fear” isn’t the kind of emotion that causes one to run and hide, but it is a profound sense of respect.

When we think of God, we should remember how merciful he has been to us. We should contemplate his goodness and grace. We should remember that He did not have to forgive us, but would have been completely justified to cast us into a burning hell forever, had it not been for Christ. When we remember these things we should fear and “depart from evil.”

But why should we depart from evil? Is it because of a fear that He will destroy us? No, for we are forgiven, if we have been covered in the righteousness of Jesus. We should have a profound respect for what God has done for us, not to us, and that fear should cause us to depart from evil.

Hand-in-Hand Pride

Proverbs 16:5

“Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.”

We Are the World

How many of you were even alive when Michael Jackson came out with a song to unite the world in a spirit of giving? “We are the world…we are the children…we are the one’s who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving…” It was 1985, the year I graduated high school.

I still remember the sight of just about every big-time musical artist of the day taking turns, each sing a measure or two, and all swaying together for a cause. What was the cause? Hunger in Africa. They wanted to feed the starving.

Sadly, even though the recording sold over 20 million copies, hunger continues to this day. They barely made a dent on the problem, but they felt good trying.

They could be proud.

Pride Abhorred

If you don’t already know, God hates pride (Prov. 6:17). Pride is the attitude that sets someone apart as better than his creator. It is the opposite of humility, and it is sin. It is the sin that tells God, “I don’t need you…I can do this myself!”

As a matter of fact, pride is a sin that demands recognition. It is not a sin that settles with obscurity; it must be seen and heard. Pride is the praise and worship chorus sung by humanity in the Church of Self. Is it any wonder the Lord hates it? Pride is idol worship.

Rights and Wrong

Pride leads the rebellious to demand his self-perceived rights. He demands of God what is pleasant, but refuses to bow a humble knee. He finds others to band together, join hand-in-hand, and sing “we are the world; You can do nothing to us!”

They even have “pride” parades.

Nevertheless, though they join hand-in-hand, hold conferences, gang up and flood the airwaves, or even cry with one loud voice, “There is no God!“; the wicked will be punished.

God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7).


Sovereign God

Proverbs 16:4

The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”

The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. (ESV)

The Lord works out everything for his own ends— even the wicked for a day of disaster. (NIV)

What is God’s Plan?

Do you know what has caused much division within the Church for at least the last 500 years? Really, it existed long before Jesus came to Earth as a baby.

The answer is another question: How much control does God have in the world and with our eternal lives?

The major beliefs fall into three major categories (though, I can assure you there are more, but most fall under these three), and I will use the traditional names from Protestantism: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Molinism. (And please excuse the butchering they receive in this short space)

Calvinism Calvinism’s big thing is God’s sovereignty. God is in complete control, and many Calvinists believe this to the point that He ordained from eternity who was going to Heaven and to Hell. His grace essentially is offered to those He wants to come to Him. In His sovereign power, God controls everything to this end with the goal of glorifying His Name.

Arminianism Arminianism’s big thing is God’s love and freedom. Put another way, God is in control of events in that He guides them toward His desired goal of His glorification. He goes about this by allowing us, through His prevenient grace, to freely choose whether or not to accept the offer of grace and forgiveness for our sins. He gets all the glory from those who have accepted His redemption.

Molinism A friend calls this “Calminianism”, because Molinism focuses primarily on God’s justice, His sovereignty and love working together. Basically, God was able to see all of the possible timelines, but He chose the one timeline in which His He gets the most glory. This allows for our freedom to choose, but God ultimately made the choice proving His sovereignty.

Still Sovereign

Interestingly, no matter what (except for a few sub-beliefs) God’s sovereignty plays a role. It is His plan of which we are all a part. The righteous will eventually receive glory with the Son which glorifies God, but in God’s sovereignty even the destruction of the wicked brings glory to God.

Sovereign Lord, awaken our hearts and minds to Your power and control and to Your love and grace. Help us to realize that You are the only in control. Help us to trust in You alone.

Who’s the Boss?

Proverbs 16:3

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (KJV). 

The Secret to Success:

What is the secret to success? The world tells us that we just need to “be positive, focus, be persistent and work hard!” Is that all it takes? Or is there something else that we can do if we want to do well in life? Eugene Peterson paraphrases today’s Scripture with these words: “Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.” (The Message).

Here are two important keys from the Scriptures that will help your plans to come to pass:

  1. Delight Yourself in the Lord:

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” If we want our thoughts to be established, and see our goals accomplished, the first thing we should do is spend time with God, and ask Him what His plans for our lives are. Too many Christians come up with their own ideas and plans and go to God and say, “Lord, will you bless my plans?” But those plans are not always His will for our lives, and so He may not bless them.

One of my favourite comic strips characters Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes went to his dad and said, “Will you buy me a flame thrower?” His response was, “No.” Does that mean that his dad didn’t love him? Of course not! But he knew his son well enough to know that if he gave into his request, it would have disastrous consequences. So, if we want to see our thoughts established, we must first spend time with the Lord and ask Him what He wants us to do.

This is one of the reasons why the ministry of Jesus was so successful. He only did what the Father told Him to do! Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.” (John 5:19). I was in ministry for several years before I learned this important principle: Instead of going to God with my plans and saying, “Would you bless them?” I now go to God and say, “What’s your plan for today, Father?”

  1. Walk in Obedience:

If we want God to see our plans succeed, we need to walk in obedience to the Lord. The first part of that is obedience to the general will of God as recorded in the Scriptures. James 1:25 says, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” The second part is obedience to the specific will of God for our lives, which is revealed to us in prayer. God has blessed us to be a blessing – who does He want you to bless today?

What is God calling you to do? Do it and it will be blessed!

Calvin & Hobbes - flame thrower

(Calvin & Hobbes (c) 2013 Bill Waterson).

Perception and Reality

Proverbs 16:2

“All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.”

The Way We See It

If I have heard it said once, I have heard it said a thousand times, “perception is reality.” And if I have puked once…

What is it with man’s twisted view of reality and truth? Where do we get the idea that reality is what we perceive it to be? Is truth really relative to our own perception of the way things are? Just because a person believes something to be true doesn’t make it true, only believed.

Have you ever argued with someone who is color-blind over the color of a tie? Have you ever tried to convince someone dying of thirst that it’s not really water, but a mirage? Have you ever tried to convince a 3-year-old that germs are real and that hands need to be washed before eating? Some people think they know what they see, but they don’t.

Clean Drunks

Several years ago I was unfortunate enough to transport a bunch of college kids to a party. It was unfortunate because long before some of them ever got on the school bus they had already been drinking.

The place they were going to was up a mountain. About 5 minutes into the trip, about the third or fourth curve, one girl decided to vomit on the window, down the inside wall, and between the seats. It was all liquid, all alcohol, and all nasty. A few minutes later she felt she was ready to go party some more, for, in her eyes, she was perfectly clean. The only problem was that we (everyone on the bus) could tell she was soaked…in other words, we weighed the “spirits.”

God Sees Everything

When it comes to self-perception, reality is what God sees. He not only sees the outside, but the heart is bare before Him. As the proverb says, a man may consider himself clean, which is his own perception of reality, but the Lord knows what’s really going on.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

It is foolish for men to try to justify their sinful, dirty actions before a holy God. It is foolish to depend on our own perception of what is right and wrong. Our eyes only want to see what makes us look good, not evil.

That is why we need God’s wisdom.



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