Inherited Blessings

Proverbs 20:7

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (KJV)
The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. (NIV)

Walking in Integrity?

You may have noticed that there are not many people who walk with integrity in our world.

Many people find an error on their receipt and keep the excess change (although recently a relief pitcher for the baseball team the San Francisco Giants, Jeremy Affelft, discovered a half million dollar mistake in his paycheck, and returned it!), though it could cost someone their job.

Many people cut off others in traffic to save themselves time or drive slower to “keep themselves safer,” when in truth they may be causing accidents and delays.

There are a myriad of ways people do not walk in integrity, from relationships to finances to business even to church.

However, those who walk in integrity are held blameless by their families, friends, and communities. Whether it is financial, moral, or relational, those who walk in integrity leave many blessings for their children.

A Blessing with a Warning

The children of a person of integrity find that they are blessed with some influence.

People are willing to trust them because of who their parents were. Some people find they have enough money to influence others’ responses.

The wise will use this influence to make their world better. The godly will use this influence to make an impact for Christ.

However, as David and Solomon’s children demonstrated, that influence can also be used to burden and curse others.

The choice is ours how we use what our parents have left for us.

If they left us an example of integrity, may we follow that example.

If they left us an example of selfishness, pride, and violence, may we choose to follow the example of Christ and set a new example of integrity for our children.

Wise Lord, help us break the cycle of our families to walk in the integrity of Christ. Help us to live lives that are pleasing to You and blameless in the sight of our eyes, for Your glory.


Well Water (Cool Counsel)

Proverbs 20:5

“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Well Water

Once when I was on a mission trip to Romania, a few of us spent a couple of days in a little town called Beuj. I remember not having a canteen or thermos (water bottle) to carry with me as we traversed the little roads around a farm in 90+ temperatures. We could only go so far away from a well.

You see, there was this little well in the town. We knew that we could walk a mile or two away, but only a mile or two. Any more and we would die of thirst before we got back. We were walking around handing out Bibles and hymnals, along with invitations to a community service at which I was going to preach. That well water was so cool and refreshing in that summer heat of 1992.

Cool Counsel

well-w-bucketThere is refreshing counsel deep inside a wise man or woman, and there are many dry and thirsty souls who need it. Sadly, many of those would-be wells of wisdom are covered, blocked, or labeled “unworthy” by the wells themselves.

If God has done a work in your life, let the Holy Spirit use you, your past, and your insight. God never wastes a tear. The pain you have gone through may have produced a deep well a struggling soul may need to make it another mile.


Of Salt and Slugs

Proverbs 20:4

“The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.”

Get a Job

You’ve probably heard someone yell out the window of a car, “Get a job!” I know I have. And if I had never heard it I know I have thought it. Every once in a while I see a person with a cardboard sign and think to myself, “Why don’t you get a real job, instead of making more than me?”

We should really be careful when we see people begging for work, for food, or for money. Unless we have followed a person around for a while, we don’t know what he has gone through. We should be more careful before we pass judgment.

Really, Get a Job

BUT, there are many people who really do end up begging others for basic needs all because of their laziness. There are people who refuse to spend any energy doing whatever it takes to feed themselves, much less their families.

I don’t want pity, nor am I bragging, but there was a time when I had to work 3-4 jobs at a time in order to keep my wife and daughters out of a shelter and in a house. I know what it is like to work in a dangerous factory during the week, deliver pizzas at night, wash dishes all weekend, and deliver news papers on Sunday morning. I know what it is like to plow in winter.

Salt or Snail?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The lazy person is called a “sluggard.” The name causes one to envision a long, slow-moving, slimy snail. The “sluggard” refuses to get up an do anything because work is hard. He chooses to wait until the “time is right,” but the right time never comes. Then, when hunger comes, he begs, complains, accuses others, and demands his “rights.”

Unfortunately, many societies encourage “sluggards.” They reward them with everything they want, including food, shelter, clothing, and cell phones. Sadly, some healthy Christians think it is appropriate to live off of certain programs, rather than work, but…

You can’t be the salt and light of the earth while acting like a snail.

 


Fighting Talk

Proverbs 20:3 

It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling. (NLT)

FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!

I have seen a few fights in my time. Firstly at school when the shout of FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, would result in a circle of boys around the two boys who were slugging it out. The shout of fight and the obvious circle of jeering boys in the playground also attracted the attention of teachers. They would wade in and separate the antagonists, who would then be dragged away to face punishment.

Why Fight?

There were occasional fights while I was serving at sea, even in the officers’ quarters. Alcohol often played a part, especially when combined with the stress of many months away from family and friends, working seven days a week. Disputes usually began with quarrels, often over the most trivial things. Even a game of Monopoly caused a fight after a one-month voyage across the Pacific followed by several weeks slowly discharging grain in the then Soviet Far East.

Why Quarrel?

While many quarrels at sea did not lead to fist fights, there was an easy way to predict those that might. Prior to moving from a quarrel to a full-blown fight, most seafarers remove their wristwatches. Why? Because when I was at sea there was an obsession with expensive Seiko watches, and jack tar didn’t want to get his watch broken in a punch-up. So why even get that far? Why be a fool and insist on quarrelling and come to the brink of physical violence? Why indeed? The message of this proverb is not only to avoid strife and fights, but to avoid the quarrels that lead to fights. Kenny Rogers sang about it back in the late 70s when I was still at sea:

“Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done.
Walk away from trouble if you can.
It won’t mean you’re weak if you turn the other cheek.
I hope you’re old enough to understand:
Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man.”

(Lyrics taken from ‘Coward of the County’ released by Kenny Rogers in 1979)


Forfeit by Sin

Proverbs 20:2

The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul. (KJV)
A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; those who anger him forfeit their lives. (NIV)

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart

What happens if you break the rules?

That seems like such a simple question, but for some reason we, humanity as a whole, seems to disregard the answer to this question on a fairly regular basis.

We prove this by keeping the wrong change when given too much by the cashier, posting a stupid and mean comment online, or speeding while driving down the road.

Yet think about this: what tends to happen when we see a police car on the side of the road? We have a minor panic attack thinking about the trouble we may be in!

It is evidenced by our children disobeying established rules, like throwing a ball in the house, playing with toys instead of doing homework, or doing something wrong and blaming a sibling or a friend.

How do the children feel? Afraid of the coming punishment, because they know they did something wrong. They hear their parents coming a mile away!

How do parents feel? Heartbroken that their child cannot follow simple rules.

God Hates Sin

Every time we sin, it is like telling our Heavenly Father His rules are stupid. We invite His punishment, and often with reckless abandon.

Sadly, it is our reckless abandon that invites His wrath, as well.

The good news is that God loves us so much and hates our sin so much that He stepped down into humanity to save us from His wrath by dying on the cross and rising from the grave.

Those who continue to disobey His laws and refuse to acknowledge His sacrifice remain under His wrath.

In effect, they choose to “sinneth against [their] own soul” and “forfeit their lives” to the wrath of the King.

Just King, thank You for saving us by taking the wrath due us on Your own shoulders. Help us by Your Holy Spirit to obey Your commands to love each other. Help us to love those who are still under Your wrath and lead them to Your grace and forgiveness.


Beer is Good?

Proverbs 20:1

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (KJV). 

God is Great and Beer is Good…

Ahhh… family weddings. The pattern of these events is always the same: ceremony, reception, and then dancing! And with the dancing comes an abundance of country music songs. One of the popular songs that always makes it out onto the dance floor is a song by Billy Currington called People are Crazy. In this story song, he tells the tale about meeting an old man in a bar who tells him, “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.”

Now while it is true that God is great (and few would argue with the fact that people are crazy!) is it true that beer is good? What does the Bible have to say about drinking alcohol? This has been a controversial topic among Christians for many years. The Bible does not have a black and white standard that says, “thou shalt not drink alcohol” but it does say a lot on the topic. Our Scripture teaches us that people who drink become mockers and fighters, and if you are led astray by alcohol, you are not wise. Still though it doesn’t say you cannot drink. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the following Scripture gives a real clear picture into some of the dangers of drinking alcohol:

Warnings Against Drunkenness

“Who are the people who are always crying the blues? Who do you know who reeks of self-pity? Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all? Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is serious business. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with – the splitting headache, the queasy stomach. Do you really prefer seeing double, with your speech all slurred, Reeling and seasick, drunk as a sailor? “They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt; they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing. When I’m sober enough to manage it, bring me another drink!” (Prov. 23:29-35).

So the Bible doesn’t say that you can’t drink alcohol, it just makes it abundantly clear that if you do, you can ruin your life! How many people have destroyed their lives or the lives of their families through the use of alcohol? My dad was an alcoholic who abandoned our family, so I know firsthand the negative effects of alcohol.

Finally, although the Bible doesn’t forbid the use of alcohol, it does state that drunkenness is a sin: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation.” (Eph. 5:18). (Note – just because it says don’t be drunk with wine doesn’t mean it’s okay to get drunk on beer or rum or another form of alcohol!). Drunkenness leads to dissipation (excess in the KJV), a word that means an abandoned, dissolute, wasted life.

So – is beer good? You be the judge!


No Need for Stripes

Proverbs 19:29

“Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.”

Reality Shows

Have you ever watched reality television? “Reality shows,” as they are called, are television programs that seek to entertain the viewer with the craziness of other peoples’ lives. Reality television is usually anything but true reality, however. But what happened last night while I was preaching was anything but fake.

Before I get into the details of this post, it has been pointed out by more than one person that our family needs to star in its own reality TV show. The only problem is that no one would believe it.

It Happened During Church

(The following happened in 2013) Just after 9 p.m. I got a phone call from a concerned church member: “Pastor, are you all right? You OK?” “Well…yeah…I guess,” was my reply. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Come to find out, a lady across the street from our church wrote on Facebook that bounty hunters had shot at a man, chased him, and arrested him in our church parking lot – while church was going on! No one inside the church knew a thing! But what is even more amazing is that the man had come to visit our church, and his wife was in the sanctuary. She never knew her husband was taken away!

Why did all this happen? Evidently, the man was wanted for a parole violation, and they followed him to church. He and his wife had been in trouble many times, but they had visited Sunday morning and felt that it was time for a change. That is why they came back last night.

Judgments and Stripes

There is more to the above story, most of which is sad, but I told it in order to help make a point. You see, actions have consequences. Sin has a price. Even though this poor couple realized that they needed God in their lives, judgment caught up with them.

All is not lost, however. Many times God’s judgment is what it takes to open the eyes of the sinner. As I prayed with the woman whose husband was hauled away, I reminded her that the road ahead would be very hard, but that God loves her, and her husband.

By His Strips

This might be a good time to point out that wounded people need to be loved. Too many people feel unworthy to come to church, and it’s all because they feel like they will be judged, like everyone else is “better” than them. The fact is that we are all sinners, but Jesus bore the punishment for our crimes, so our job is to love each other as Christ loved us.

This man and woman may have to pay a temporal price for the sins they have committed. It may mean jail time. But there is no need for them, or you, to suffer the eternal penalty for sin – separation from God. Jesus took upon Himself our sins and bore them to the Cross (1 Peter 2:24). There He was “wounded for our transgressions, and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).”

Don’t continue to be a “scorner.” Don’t be a “fool.” 

“This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” – 1 John 4:10 NLT

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9 KJV