Generous Eyes

Proverbs 22:9

“He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.”
“He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.” – NKJV

Always

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Never say never?” I heard it a lot in the days before the birth of my first child. I would say things like, “I will NEVER let my child…” That’s when people who knew better would offer insight based on their own experiences.

There are some decisions that should be made in advance, however; decisions preceded by a firm absolute. For example, I have said many times that I will never let my daughters leave the house looking like a “prostitot,” and I mean it.

But what about the word always? Isn’t that an absolute statement we should avoid? Should we always be giving? Should we always be generous?

Give

My father, a generous man, told me, “Son, if a bum on the street walks up to you and asks for a dollar, always give what you can…you never know who it might be.” He would never “withhold” when he had the power to give something (Prov. 3:27), and he was a firm believer in the possibility that every beggar could be a heavenly messenger:  “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2).

But more importantly, my father was wise enough to understand that it’s not really about what we give and to whom, although that is important; it’s about the heart. A person with a “bountiful eye” loves to give, especially to those who are less fortunate. Like the Good Samaritan, we are not told to question why our neighbor is lying in the ditch, or how he came to be in that situation, but to offer kindness and generosity. Even when it is impossible to give money, a sacrifice of kindness is always appropriate.

Blessings

When we give blessings we get blessings in return. It may not be in this life, but the promises of God are true: he who has a generous eye WILL be blessed.

Doesn’t it make you feel good to give? Wouldn’t you like to come into a bunch of money and then use it to fund an orphanage, provide for struggling families, or give to missions? Well, it doesn’t take a few people giving a lot, just a lot of people with a heart for giving.

Remember, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given” (Prov. 19:17 NKJV). God is no man’s debtor.

 


Dealing with Troublemakers

Proverbs 22:10.

“Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.” (KJV). 

Building the Church:

I don’t know where it has come from, but we’ve got this idea in the church today that we need to keep everyone who walks through our doors. “We don’t want to lose anyone!” However, I would like to suggest to you today that maybe this isn’t the healthiest perspective to have when it comes to building the church.

Every church is full of good people and bad people – those who love the Lord and want to honor and obey Him, and those who don’t. However, the seeker-driven church model today is so anxious to get more and more people to join the church that they give no thought to lifestyle concerns, and will let anyone in if they would simply make a profession of faith. However, this leads to all sorts of problems!

If you let people join your church who don’t believe in your mission or vision, they’re not going to help fulfill God’s purpose for your church. In fact you might even find them fighting against what the Lord is calling you to do. (Incidentally, the word division comes from two words: di meaning two, and vision. Two visions). This is one of the many different situations that wise King Solomon is addressing in today’s Proverb.

Kick out the Troublemakers:

In the Message paraphrase of our Bible verse, Eugene Peterson writes: “Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down; you need a break from bickering and griping!” In other words, if you have someone in your church who is a troublemaker, then it’s probably best to ask them to leave – for the good of the church!

One of my life verses is Psalm 133 which says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious (anointing) oil… For there the Lord commanded the blessing– Life forevermore.” In other words, when a church (or a family) lives in unity, that’s where God’s anointing (presence), blessing, and eternal life can be found. But where there is strife, there is every evil work. That’s why it’s better to remove the troublemaker, for the sake of the unity in the church.

The Pruning of the Lord:

Now – this isn’t easy! As a pastor, I am thankful that I have never had to actually do this, although there are times where we have had troublemakers in our church. Thankfully, the Lord in His graciousness did some pruning and removed them from our body before they could to any more damage than they already had. And in every circumstance where the Lord brought about a pruning and removed a troublemaker, we found that the church always grew again in a better and a healthier way. So maybe a good starting point in dealing with a troublemaker is asking the Lord to do the pruning, so you don’t have to!


There is a Day

Proverbs 22:8

He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.
Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster, and their reign of terror will come to an end. (NLT)

Injustice has been part of our world since the first act of iniquity in the Garden of Eden. The simple act of listening to the wrong voice, resulted in God being disobeyed and had terrible consequences. Adam and Eve were removed from the perfection of the Garden to make their way in a world dirtied by sin. A world in which iniquity and injustice multiplied to the point where we find ourselves today.

But it will end. The reign of terror that began in Genesis will end in Revelation when our Lord Jesus returns. There is a day when He will return and sweep iniquity and injustice aside. He came once. He is coming again. He promised. Hallelujah!

There is a day, that all creation’s waiting for,
A day of freedom and liberation for the earth.
And on that day

The Lord will come to meet His bride,
And when we see Him

In an instant we’ll be changed.


 
The trumpet sounds
And the dead will then be raised
By His power,
Never to perish again.
Once only flesh,
Now clothed with immortality;
Death has now been

Swallowed up in victory.
 
We will meet Him in the air

And then we will be like Him,
For we will see Him, as He is,
Oh yeah!
Then all hurt and pain will cease,
And we’ll be with Him forever,
And in His glory we will live,
Oh yeah, oh yeah!
 
So lift your eyes

To the things as yet unseen,

That will remain now
For all eternity.
Though trouble’s hard

It’s only momentary,
And it’s achieving

Our future glory.
 
(Phatfish)

Under Another

Proverbs 22:7

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Buying a House

My wife and I just bought our first house.

Technically, it is not really ours, because we have to pay the bank for buying it for us. That means, for up to 30 years, the bank owns our house.

During that time, the bank owns our money. We have to give to them, or they can take from us our dwelling place! We serve them until the debt is paid.

Emotional Dependency

Banks may have financial superiority over many a homeowner, but there are other ways people control others.

The emotionally weak person will be either controlled by those who are more out of control of their emotions or inadvertently control their relationships out of their need.

The former situation has the person whose emotions are all over the place seeking power over the weaker person. They are rich in emotional intensity that they cannot control, therefore they control someone else.

The latter situation has the emotionally needy person draining others’ time and emotions. In this sense, it can be seen as the one rich in need has control over the person poor of need.

Neither is morally justifiable, but it happens all the time.

Moral Superiority

We all find ourselves in some emotional or moral need from time to time or for our entire lives.

There is One who is in perfect control of His emotions, and, though completely sovereign, He does not force us to obey Him, but He calls all people to repentance and forgiveness.

God wants us to live godly lives, not lives of manipulation of strong over weak.

Heavenly Father, help us to be good stewards of all that You have entrusted to us: finances, possessions, emotions, and each other. Guide us by the Holy Spirit into all righteousness, and rule over our hearts with Your grace and love.


Training Our Children

Proverbs 22:6.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” 

Being Good Parents:

On March 25, 1995, I married my best friend, Liza Woods. Right from the beginning of our relationship, we both knew we wanted to have many children. And so, you can imagine how excited we were six months after we got married when we discovered that Liza was pregnant with our first child. Yet, along with that excitement came a sense of the awe and responsibility of raising children. What did we know about being good parents? What if we made some mistakes and totally messed up our kids?

It was then that we were thankful for this wonderful promise from the Word: If we as parents will do our part in training up our children in His ways, then He has promised to hold them on the straight and narrow path. Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Today, we have four amazing children aged 10-17).

My children - Caleb, Hannah, Tori & Austin - who love the Lord!

My children – Caleb, Hannah, Tori & Austin – who love the Lord!

The Job of Parents:

Our hope and prayer is that our children will grow up to know Jesus personally, experience the love of God, and serve Him with all of their hearts. But what can we as parents do to ensure that will happen? The answer of course is in the Bible: “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart… And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again.” (Deut. 6:5-7).

Unfortunately, we have this Sunday school mentality in the North American church that says, “I will just bring my kids to church, and send them to Sunday school, and I will let the church teach them about God.” However, if parents think that one class once a week is going to help their children to know God, then they are mistaken. Children spend approximately 35 hours a week in school, and countless hours watching television and playing video games. If parents aren’t taking the time to teach their children about God on a daily basis, then they are going to lose the battle for the souls of their children.

The Challenge:

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. I believe firmly in the importance of children’s ministry in the church, and believe that the church must come alongside of families to help them train their children. But this cannot take the place of regular instruction in the home. Pray for your children daily, and take the time to sit down and teach them God’s Word. Commit to doing family devotions every day, and when you do, God’s hand will be upon them always.


Full Rewards

Note: A special extra post today to cover a precious missed verse in our lineup.
~Daniel

Proverbs 22:4

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life. (KJV)
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. (ESV)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was killed by the Nazis, based his ministry and teachings off of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapters 5-7.

Why mention a man who was killed over 70 years earlier and his favorite teaching?

The most obvious understanding of today’s verse is that with humility and the fear of the Lord, you can become wealthy, be respected, and live well.

Pastor Bonhoeffer came from a wealthy, respected family, and he became a pastor, theologian, and college and seminary professor, willing to work with anyone from any walk of life. That sounds great, but we must remember that he spent the last two years of his life in prison and was hanged by the Third Reich.

The ultimate teaching he lived out and taught includes humility (5:1-12) and seeking God’s righteousness (6:19-33).

In fact, here are three passages to fully understand the rewards of Proverbs 22:4:

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Matthew 5:11-12

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33

Let it be summarized:

For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
Romans 14:18

We must seek the riches and honor of God, the Author and Giver of Life, above the riches and honor of this world. He will bless us more than we can ever understand. The greatest blessing is the reward of eternal life through Christ.

Great God, give us all that we need, and help us to seek your righteousness  approval above all else.


Avoid the Thorny Way

Note: a post for Proverbs 22:4 was never published the first time around. It’s a great verse, so would anyone else like to give it a shot? – Anthony

Proverbs 22:5

Thorns [and] snares [are] in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it. – NLT

Whose Fault?

People who drink and drive should expect problems down the road. People who use illegal drugs should expect problems, also. Why is it, then, when these people get caught, harassed, or arrested by law enforcement, they blame the whole thing on the police?

Recently a man’s dog was shot and killed. After seeing his owner arrested for mouthing off to machine gun-toting policemen who had surrounded the house of a criminal, the 80 pound Rottweiler decided to attack. What was the arresting officer supposed to do but defend himself? Yet, the community where this happened is calling for the policeman to be punished. Why? Because a fool who couldn’t keep his foolish mouth shut forgot to restrain his killer dog?

Taking a Different Path

The simple fact that Solomon is teaching is that if one wants to avoid the pain and suffering of thorns and snares, take a different path.

The above story reminds me of something that happened to me years ago. One night our German Shepherd was acting like a stranger was close by. There had been some suspicious activity down the street already, so I took my shotgun (we lived out in the county) and walked with my dog through the shadows around our house over toward the street. Just before we came out of the shadows, I saw six policemen with M-16 assault rifles walking in my direction. Little did I know they were looking for a criminal who had just shot at another policeman.

My heart nearly stopped. “Oh God…please don’t let them see me…for the love of all that’s holy, dog, pleeeeezzzzz don’t bark…”

The dog stayed silent – I took a different path – and we both survived.


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