Pray for Your Enemies

Proverbs 24:17-18

17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.

Sweet Revenge

No one likes to be beat up, attacked, or hated. When we find we have an enemy, we want more than anything for that enemy to go away!

When we are attacked, our first reaction is usually to fight back. We want our enemy to feel what we feel. We want our enemy to get their just desserts!

The Lord’s Vengeance

However, this passage shows how little God changes (not at all – Malachi 3:6), because here are Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (NIV)

It is hard letting your enemy beat you up and take what is yours. Yet He continues, taking it one step further:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

God could see you rejoicing in your enemy’s pain, and He will relent. He might even turn His punishment on you.

The point is that God expects the followers of His Son to become like Him. Christians are to demonstrate the perfect love of God to others, ultimately with the goal of winning others to Christ … perhaps even our enemies.

Loving God, do not let our enemies win over us. More importantly, help us love them as You love, that we may see Your Kingdom grow in our world until Christ returns to redeem our world!


I Will Arise!

Proverbs 24:15-16.

“Lay not wait , O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” (KJV). 

There is a false teaching going around the church today that says, “Once you believe in Jesus and become a Christian, you won’t have any more problems in your life.” However, as much as I wish that was true, there is no Biblical basis for this belief. In fact, Jesus Himself said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Just because you believe in Jesus doesn’t mean that you won’t have any more troubles. Walking in obedience to God’s Word is no guarantee that you will never have a problem in your life. However, when Jesus is your Lord and Saviour, He will always be there to help to overcome those trials and challenges. There is a story in the life of Jesus that illustrates this truth for us:

“As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” He was already in the boat, so they started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically they woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?” When he woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Quiet down!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:35-39).

Sometimes we think that bad things only happen when we disobey God. But Scripture tells us otherwise. Jesus’ disciples found themselves in a storm immediately after being obedient to Jesus’ command to “cross over to the other side of the lake.” You can be walking in faith and obedience, doing your best to live by the principles of wisdom in the Bible, and yet troubles will still come. However, you don’t have to let those troubles overcome you. When a storm comes, remind yourself that Jesus is in your boat. And Jesus can bring peace into the most dark and difficult storms in our lives!

The next time you fall down, don’t sit there and have a pity party and say, “I’ve fallen but I can’t get up!” No! Instead, do what the prophet Micah said to do: “Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me.” (Micah 7:7-8). When you get knocked down, ARISE!


Honey and Health

Proverbs 24:13-14 

My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.
My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste. In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short. (NIV)

honeyThere is something special about honey. My father has honey every day as part of his breakfast. Dad spreads it on Weetabix instead of eating his Weetabix with milk like the rest of us. A friend of mine uses honey as a sweetener in his coffee. We use honey for medicinal purposes as an ingredient of the ‘hot toddies’ we make to fight off winter colds. My soon to be daughter-in-law uses a special honey from New Zealand for her throat when illness threatens her ability to sing. A search on Google throws up many other potential uses for honey, some of which are stranger than spreading it on Weetabix.

Interestingly, honey was first mentioned in the book of Genesis when there was famine in the land and Jacob needed to buy grain from Egypt (Genesis 43). In this instance honey was part of a gift, inferring that there was value attached to a pot of honey (something Winnie the Pooh was well aware of). Then in Exodus God refers to the land He has promised to the Israelites as a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’ (Exodus 3:8). Scripture leaves no doubt concerning the importance of honey, so it is interesting that first David (Psalm 19:10 and Psalm 119:103), and then Solomon compare the preciousness of honey to the words, judgments, and wisdom of God. If honey is good for your health, then wisdom is good for your spiritual welfare. Honey is good for the body, and it is also good for the soul when it serves as a reminder of the wisdom of God that we need to seek and apply to our lives throughout each waking day.


Don’t Pretend You Don’t Know

Proverbs 24:11-12

If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done? – NIV

Feelings

I had to read these verses a few times before the meaning really sank in. And when it did, well…let’s just say I didn’t feel “blessed” by God’s Word. The best word to describe how I felt was “convicted.”

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Sometimes we read the Bible and find ourselves encouraged after being down and depressed. Other times we go to Scripture to find peace in the middle of a storm. This time, however, was one of those times when the truth was painful to accept. This time I felt worse after I read the Bible than before!

Either/Or

The KJV renders this proverb in the form of a hypothetical “if,” while the NIV renders this proverb as a command. One version says, “Do this”; the other says, “If, then…” It really doesn’t matter too much, however; the idea is still the same: God knows what we know, even when we deny it.

The KJV says: “If you don’t help, then say, ‘I didn’t know,’ you will have a hard time explaining your lack of action to the One who knows and keeps your soul.” The NIV says, “Rescue the innocent, because you know as well as God does you’re aware of the need.”

The Victims

I can’t help but think of the German citizens of WWII who told the Allies they never knew Jews were being led to the slaughter. They benefited from how the Jews were being treated, went along with everything, then feigned ignorance as human ash from the ovens floated down from the sky.

Genocide is taking place in Nigeria; Christians are being killed in Egypt; innocents are being beheaded as they walk down the streets of England; yet, those who could do something say, “I don’t know why this is happening.”

Thousands of innocents are butchered every day for a fee, yet the average Christian does little.

Millions of youth are staggering toward a spiritual slaughter, while parents convince themselves it’s natural and healthy.

Families are falling apart, marriages are failing, while we look in another direction. All the while thugs roam the streets killing old veterans and joggers for fun. Why?

Rescue Them!

We must ask ourselves this question: “What does God know about my heart that I am not willing to admit?”

You see, we know why many of the evils in our world are taking place. We observe the paths many are taking, yet say nothing. We watch, seemingly helpless, as the slaughter takes place. Deep inside we know what we could do, but the doing is hard; denying is easy.

Just remember, God knows our hearts. “Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?”


Small Strength

Proverbs 24:10.

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” (KJV).

The Crisis:

It was the fall of 1994 in Surrey, BC, and I was 22 years old. I was involved in full-time ministry as the assistant youth pastor at Victory Christian Centre (now called Relate Church). And I had just gotten engaged to Liza. Everything was going my way. We were going to get married, have lots of children, and serve the Lord together.

And that’s when it happened.

I got called into the pastor’s office and he told me that because of the financial difficulties that the church was having, they were going to have to lay me off. I was still welcome to work with the youth on a volunteer basis if I wanted to, they just didn’t have the money to pay me anymore.

And that’s when I started freaking out. How was I going to get married in less than six months? I couldn’t start a family without a job! And so I made the decision to call off the wedding.

The Challenge:

But thank God for fellow believers in the church, amen? One of my friends shared the above Bible verse with me. He said, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Ouch! That was a Scripture spanking for sure! He was saying that if I was to give up just because of a difficult challenge, then my strength was small.

You see, it’s easy to appear strong and look like you have it all together when everything is going good in your life. But when a crisis comes up, then you find out what’s really in your heart. And so I made a decision to step out in faith, go ahead with the wedding, and trust God to provide for my needs.

Chris and Liza - March 25, 1995

Chris and Liza – March 25, 1995

The Conquest:

I’m happy to report that even before two weeks had passed and I was finished at the church, I had another job already lined up working as a prayer minister for an international television ministry. While I was working there, I learned a lot about prayer and had many great experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I still worked with the youth in our church until the Lord called me to the youth ministry at another church down the road – Bible Fellowship Church (now called Horizon Church). We have four wonderful children, and have been married for over 20 years now. God is good!

What kind of adversity, crisis or challenge are you facing today?

Life is hard, but I want to challenge you to look to the Lord today to help you with whatever you’re going through! “I will lift up my eyes to the hills– From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:1-3).


Out of Context

Proverbs 24:7

“Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.”
“Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.” (NIV)

Not Where It Belongs

I work in a classroom for children with autism. One of the more exasperating, yet somewhat funny, things about this job is how many times we have to stop the children from doing something gross.

One of their favorite pastimes, it would seem, is picking up something from the floor and immediately sticking it into their mouths.

We exclaim “That is not where it belongs! Spit it out!” We frequently have to “help” them with following that command.

We cannot get them to understand that what they are doing is wrong.

Not Where They Belong

In ancient times, the leaders and older men of a town would meet at the main gate for the town to discuss matters. People throughout the town knew they could go to these men for advice or to resolve disagreements.

These men were respected for their wisdom in matters, because they could usually teach from experience and the Torah (the Five books of Moses, or Genesis through Deuteronomy).

A person who refused to learn from his experiences and continue to make stupid mistakes therefore would have no place to give advice. His wisdom is not wisdom.

Bad Teachers

Others who should not give advice are some Christians.

These are the people who teach about Jesus and the Bible, but either they have not read the Bible or they do not understand what they are saying.

It is like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof quoting scripture that does not exist, only instead of being endearing it can lead others to heresy or drive non-Christians from the truth. They take things out of context or make up information. When confronted, they only get defensive and refuse to look at or change themselves.

Wise God, help us overcome our foolishness, and through Your Holy Spirit guide us in all wisdom. Remind us when it is better to hold our tongues than share what we do not understand.


As He Thinks, So He Is

Proverbs 24:8-9

“He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person. The thought of foolishness [is] sin: and the scorner [is] an abomination to men.”

“A person who plans evil will get a reputation as a troublemaker. The schemes of a fool are sinful; everyone detests a mocker.” – NLT

Preceding Reputation

You can probably think of a few people you’ve known who always had a reputation for either getting into trouble or causing it. These “mischievous” persons – troublemakers – probably had all the right words, but all the wrong actions. Every time they came near you’d wince with the expectation that nothing good would come of it.

What we read in this proverb is the description of one who already has a reputation for causing trouble; he’s always devising some scheme, always about some kind of foolishness. These type of people have a reputation for a reason, and that’s why they are disliked.

Foolish Feelings

Much of what America (and much of the world) is dealing with these days goes back to feelings: hurt feelings, wounded feelings, offended feelings, etc. At every junction we are more concerned with how someone feels than the truth about who he or she is.

I can only imagine how the truth of this proverb must offend the feeling-types of today’s culture! Frankly, this proverb from Solomon could be interpreted as insensitive or bigoted, for it negatively asserts that the one who is always getting into trouble must therefore have a flawed character. Oh, the horror! How insensitive! What about environmental influences?

In reality, many of those who constantly devise evil schemes do so simply because that is who they are – evil schemers, scorners, and mockers. The truly foolish care more about their (the offenders) feelings than the nature behind the actions, therefore they are never able to adequately address the cause.

Change of Nature Needed

Notice, it’s more than just people who do things that get a reputation, but those who think things: “The thought of foolishness is sin.” Do you ever sit around and daydream of getting vengeance? Do you ever contemplate ways to get away with something? If so – and you know who you are – what kind of reputation do you think you have with God?

All of us are guilty of having had evil thoughts and schemes, but if it’s something you do all the time, then you need a change of heart – a new nature.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:11

The best way to change one’s reputation is to start over as a new person with a new nature.