Category Archives: affection

Worthy to Receive Honor

Proverbs 14:28 

In the multitude of people is the king’s honor: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince.
A growing population is a king’s glory; a prince without subjects has nothing. NLT

Which King?

When I read this verse I wondered if the reference was to earthly kings or to our Heavenly King? Here in the UK we still have a royal family so it is easy for me to consider what constitutes a king’s (or in our case queen’s) honor or glory. Queen Elizabeth II has been a worthy monarch. Although her powers are restricted to constitutional and representational matters, she is generally loved and admired by a multitude of people.

This proverb links population to honor and glory. The UK population has certainly grown during the Queen’s sixty-year reign, mainly due to immigration, much of which has taken place in the last few years. But does the growing population bring the Queen honor and glory? No. The fact that the Queen is so highly regarded in the UK and around the world is because of the way that she has fulfilled her duties, and continues to do so despite being eighty-six years old. Will Prince Charles be similarly loved and respected when/if he is crowned as King? That seems unlikely. While Prince Charles is first in line to the throne, he is not as well received by his ‘subjects’ as his mother. Queen Elizabeth will be a hard act to follow.

Another King

One of the UK’s most rousing and patriotic songs is ‘I Vow to Thee My Country.’ The words begin with loyalty to the nation, but end with a poetic description of heaven, and a King above all other kings, a King who seeks a growing population, a multitude of people who choose to bow before Him. A King who stands at the door of every human heart and knocks, waiting quietly for an answer.

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar, the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
 
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

Listen: Katherine Jenkins sings ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’

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Tears of a Clown

Proverbs 14:13

13 Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.

Covered Up

In 1970, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles released the song “The Tears of a Clown“.

The Tears of a Clown” is a song about a man whose girlfriend left him. He is singing to the girl so that she knows he is utterly saddened by her leaving, so she should not be misled by the act he puts on in front of others. Like a clown, he covers his emotions and puts on an entertaining show.

How many times do we play this game in our own lives?

There are times when this is okay, such as when Jesus told us to keep ourselves looking happy and healthy when fasting (Matthew 6:16-18). However, this is to keep ourselves from seeking the attention of people rather than God.

Torn Down

On the other hand, in those times when our joy is stolen from us, we should not hide it.

Like Nick said the other day, we must be willing to share all of our joys and hurts with others. The only thing guaranteed to happen if hold in our hurts is that we will become bitter and lonely.

The authors of these devotionals have been able to help each other, because we have confided in each other our joys and our hurts. I have made it through over a decade thus far in ministry, because growing up I kept my hurts to myself. Eventually I stopped sharing my joys, as well. I learned how much pain and bitterness grows within, gradually eroding mind, body, and soul. Therefore, as a new believer I made the commitment to share my experiences with others I could trust (and sometimes anyone who would listen).

Without confiding in someone, especially God, it weighs down on you. It builds up and tears you down to nothing.

Built Up, Again

Fortunately, there is a God who cares. There is a God in the restoration and peace business. Jesus calls us to take off those masks that burden us and find rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30); for Jesus is the only source of true peace (John 14:25-27), a peace that we may never fully understand but that brings that rest He promised (Philippians 4:6-7).

God not only restores us, He makes us more. He builds us into the likeness of Jesus. But we must be willing to share our joy and pain.

Merciful God, grant us peace in our troubles and release from our pain. Help us to confide in You and dearly loved ones. You did not create us to handle things alone, so we ask that You help us by changing our hearts and minds to be willing to remove our masks.


Unstooping the Back

Proverbs 12:25

“Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.”

Pain & Sadness

When I was engaged to be married to a woman who was not quite right for me, it dragged us both down. When I knew God did not want me with that woman, I knew I had to end the relationship.

The bad news is that I did not want to. This led to a deep depression. My heart was so heavy that it held me in place, emotionally and physically. I was practically useless for a couple of weeks and literally useless for a few days, those last days of which I sat slouched on a couch not moving except to go to the bathroom.

My heavy heart literally made me stoop and slouch.

I was in mourning for a relationship that had yet to end.

Good Words

It seemed that nothing anyone said could help.

The thing that did it was a dear brother in the Lord saying “God loves you. Show Him you love Him, too.”

It made me realize how to live out Jesus’ words: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

I needed to show God that I loved Him more than anything or anyone else. It took a friend’s words to lift me up and make me move.

Kindness & Love

It is a great kindness to share a good word with someone with a heavy heart full of pain and/or sadness. It should be done with love, and that love should be the love of God.

Someone can offer a kind word, even a good word, to someone, but if it is done at the wrong time or in the wrong way it can have the opposite effect.

Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing at all. It is just to sit there, to be there.

God of mercy and kindness, thank You for leading us to and through those times of pain and sadness. Thank You that You also provide us with those people and words that can lift us up to gladness, again. Give us a heart to share that love and kindness to others, and give us the wisdom to know when to speak and when to simply be there.


Kindness to Animals

Proverbs 12:10

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

Wicked and Cruel

I will never forget a particular video I saw posted on YouTube. The owner of a large python purchased a fluffy, brown rabbit and brought it home. There, in his living room, he let this peaceful, tame rabbit meant to be a pet hop around while his sorry snake got closer and closer.

Snickering with anticipation, the owner of the snake filmed the unwary rabbit as it got accustomed to its new environment. Then, it happened – the python struck, coiled around the rabbit, and began its death squeeze. But what made me sick, as I am sure it did God, was when the snake’s owner got up close to the rabbit and laughed. He laughed because the rabbit cried.

There is a Difference

It is one thing to kill an animal for food, or even in self-defense. It is even understandable to kill animals when their populations get out of hand. But it is something totally different when a human is intentionally cruel to something helpless and trusting.

This proverb says that “a righteous man regardeth (knows, cares about) the life” of his animal. In contrast, the wicked are cruel. But some may wonder, “What does it matter?” It matters to the one who values life.

“His Eye Is On the Sparrow…”

It might surprise people to know that God cares about the lives of animals. When Jonah was upset because God did not destroy Nineveh, God said unto him,

And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” – Jonah 4:11

Literally, the last words of God in the story of Jonah concerned the cattle of a pagan city. If God cared about these cattle, does it not stand to reason that He might disapprove of torturing pets? Remember, not a sparrow falls without Him knowing (Matt. 10:29).

This is the thing: let there be no mistake, if a human can find enjoyment in the suffering of helpless animals, then what is to keep him from harming helpless humans? Wickedness breeds wickedness.

A Prayer

Father God, help us to treat all life with respect, for it is You who created life. You made Man in the image of Yourself, but you also made all creation for your pleasure. Help us to be mindful and caring, not wicked and cruel. And thank you, Lord, for if you care about the beasts of the field, then how much more do you care for your children?


Commended and Despised

Proverbs 12:8

“A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.”

First Look

When I first read this verse, I thought “This is not how our world approaches a man of wisdom versus a man with a perverse heart.”

As of 2012 we can see a stark difference in how people see others.

Many people compare the 44th US President, Barack Obama, with the 40th US President, Ronald Reagan. Most Republicans view Reagan as one of the greatest leaders in American history, but most Democrats think he did horribly. Most Democrats view Obama as a great leader, but most Republicans think he has done horribly.

Depending on who you discuss these men with, they are either as seen as wise and adored or wicked and despised.

Second Look

Looking farther back, however, we see two different men generally respected. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, is touted by both political parties as one of their own (even though he was the first Republican President), because he led the nation through a horrible civil war that helped free slaves (to an extent, at least). The other President, the 35th, John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, is also generally seen as a wise leader. He managed to handle the Cuban Missile Crisis and balance the Federal Budget. Both men were assassinated.

Both men had faults – no one denies that. These men also were able to lead well during difficult times through wisdom.

The Church

People generally have good qualities, even the worst of us, but it may be harder for some people to see them.

Sadly, we see this kind of division within the Church, as well.

There are strong leaders who are not known by most people. There are nearly demonic leaders revered by the masses. There are people all throughout the spectrum in between and reversed.

Most of us know names like Billy Graham and John Stott. We also know names like Fred Phelps of Westboro “Baptist Church” and Jim Bakker of “Praise the Lord” fame. The first set are seen as great, holy men of God. The second set are seen as wicked and … perverse.

There are men and women throughout the Church who fall under these descriptions.

We must show grace to all, because even the best of us are weak at times (Even the Apostle Paul admitted so in Romans 7). Trust is always earned, but we must still show love. (There are other posts for discussing the reasons we fail)

Our wise King, give us wisdom to tell the difference between wise and perverse leaders. Help us grow in wisdom that we may be loved and respected, to Your glory.


Powerful Words

Proverbs 12:6

“The words of the wicked [are] to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.”
“The words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush, but the words of the godly save lives.” (NLT)

The Power of Words

Words have great power. Words can build up, and words can tear down. Words can point in the right direction, but words can also lead astray. Words can encourage, and words can cripple. Words can heal, and words can hurt. There can be no doubt that words spoken thoughtlessly or without wisdom can cause untold damage. The statement in this proverb that words can be like a murderous ambush provides a serious warning about how we choose to speak, and the words that leave our lips.

Be Careful What You Say

As a teenager I can remember being told to put my brain in gear before opening my mouth! This was good advice. Before we open our mouths we have to consider how our words will be received. What is their purpose? Every word is important. Every word has the potential to be good or to be evil. Be careful what you say!

Say What You Need To Say

Then there are the words that we find difficult to say. These are the words that should restore relationships, or ‘save lives’ as the NLT translates this proverb. We all know what these words are, and we have all struggled to say them with heartfelt meaning. These are words for our families, and for our friends:

“I’m sorry.”

“I forgive you.”

Remember that it is not only the words we speak, but also how we say them. I know when my children are sorry, and I know when they are not. They know when I have forgiven them, and they know when I haven’t.

Then there is God and the things we say to Him. God knows our hearts completely. He knows when we are sorry, and He knows when we are not. He knows when we are hungry for Him, and He knows when we have no space for Him in our busy lives. Here are three words we need to say to Him with meaning.

“I love You.”

Say what you need to say.

Listen

Say what you need to say (Say – John Mayer).

Be careful little lips what you say. For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray (Casting Crowns – Slow Fade).


Be the Good Wife

Proverbs 12:4

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

Two Paths

I was engaged to be married once, before I met my wife.

The Ex

There were a lot of good qualities about my ex-fiancé, such as being intelligent, beautiful, and creative. She also had some qualities that were not so good, and we were not a good match.

During our relationship, we both walked dangerous paths. We drank a lot of alcohol, together and separately, much of the time. We got into smoking many things (all of the legal variety). We began “sleeping together” about half way through our relationship. We became bitter, even mean toward others and eventually ourselves.

That relationship wore me out: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I call much of our relationship “the time I should not have called myself a Christian,” because … well … read Galatians 5:19-21. My ex and I either considered or did almost everything on that list.

My Wife

When I met the woman who became my wife, we did things differently.

The relationship began with a promise of purity and a dedication to God. Even when we are angry with each other (yes, it happens in good relationships, too!) we still find good things to say to each other. (To be honest, our “fights” last mere moments, and our anger subsides in even less time … often instantly)

We lift each other up in prayer, worship God together, and find ourselves sacrificing in some way for the other on a regular basis … only to receive the greater blessing of joy and happiness, as we both enjoy much of the same things, anyway!

This may not be the exact picture of all strong couples, but there will always be similarities.

The Church

Now consider this: Jesus Christ has called the Church His Bride (As evidenced in Ephesians 5 and Revelation 21-22).

How do you treat the Husband?

Do you lift up and bless? Or, do you cause shame and bitterness?

O God, strengthen our relationships with love and grace. Give us the wisdom to know when a relationship is healthy or not. Guide us in all righteousness that we may bless You with our lives.