Category Archives: Faithfulness

Misjudged

Proverbs 28:21
To have respect of persons is not good: for a piece of bread that man will transgress.”
To show partiality is not good, Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.” (NASB)

Being Wary

Sadly, we live in a world dominated by people who like to take advantage of others.

This is important to remember.

There are so many friendly faces and wealthy people to whom people turn in trust for the simple reason that they appear trustworthy or might be able pull some strings.

Another example that comes to mind is of all of those people out there who add to their resumes to get jobs. Through their resumes, they pretend to have received certain degrees, awards, and accolades, or they insert false positions at companies to make it appear they have more experience.

There are also stories of people who are passed over for promotions, and they end up stealing from the company.

It can be easy to misjudge people if we only look at face value and never dig beneath the surface.

Ultimately, only God knows the heart of people.

The Disciples’ Misunderstanding

I could not help but think of one famous biblical story as I read this proverb.

Jesus sat down for His last meal with His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion. Toward the end of the meal, Jesus is breaking bread with them, and then He sends Judas Iscariot to do what he would do.

The other Eleven disciples thought perhaps “that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor.” (John 13:29, NASB)

Instead, Judas went to the Jewish leaders to help them arrest and kill Jesus.

The other disciples misjudged their friend, and Judas sinned against the Bread of Life.

God, help us to not show partiality or favoritism but to treat others with justice. Give us the strength to do what is right even when we disagree or are wronged. Help us to show Your love and grace in all circumstances.

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Constant Contending

Proverbs 28:4

“They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.”
Entertainment Shock

The entertainment world is a never-ending circus display of freaks and oddities. Normal is never good, only what is abnormal and shocking. The more outrageous, the more likely it is to get ratings.

At the time of this writing, several female entertainers have been competing with each other over how far one can go without going too far. Long gone are the simple, clean-cut days of Elvis’ gyrating hips and the mini-skirts of the 60’s. We are even beyond the days of “wardrobe malfunctions.” Today is the day of full nudity, graphic sex, and animalistic behavior – at music concerts!

How could things have come this far? Why aren’t people like Miley Cyrus , Lady Ga Ga, and Madonna arrested for public indecency? It is because their fans have long forsaken the law of God and have learned to praise what is wicked. The critics are only critical of those who “contend” with them.

Constant Contending

Those who stand in opposition to the wicked in a society that praises vulgarity, violence, and vice will always find themselves in conflict. The mom that opposes sex education for her young child will always be considered the enemy of “good.” The dad that tries to prevent his daughter from leaving the house looking like prostitute will always be considered a prude. It never ends.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” – 1 Peter 3:15-17 NIV


Down on the Farm

Proverbs 27:23-27 

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

Tibhall cowsVery good friends of mine have a family farm. Over the years they have had to diversify in response to changes in farming. The dairy went a while back, but they still raise cattle for other people. There are several holiday lodges now on part of their land. While the father continues to run the farm, ably supported by his wife, their daughter lives next door, and she and her husband have invested in a high-tech egg business involving far too many chickens to count. The son and his wife live in an annex to the main farmhouse, and they are also involved in the farm, although the son’s wife also works full time as a nurse. I haven’t done the family justice in these few words, but the point is that the hard work and diligence of each generation on this particular farm has, in the words of Proverbs 27:24, meant that the ‘crown has endured (to date) to every generation.

If you managed to find this farm, which is accessed via narrow country lanes, you would see nothing unusual. There is a collection of buildings with the houses on one side of the road, and the farm buildings on the other. There may be a tractor and other farm machinery parked up. It looks every bit the working farm that it is!

TibhallWhat you would not see when you drive past the farm is the hearts of the people who live and work there. It is much more than the farm that is passing down through the generations. John and Jean, my friends, have been faithful in many ways. In addition to contributing to the life and work of the Baptist church in the nearest town, they have also been faithful supporters of the local Methodist circuit, with special involvement in the nearest small chapel. Their son David attended Baptist College and trained for full time ministry. Although David still works on the farm, he is also an agricultural chaplain serving others in the farming community. I know a little of what David does and it blesses me greatly to see this young man investing not only in the family farm through his labor, but also in the lives of others in an industry that is struggling for many reasons.

Investing in the lives of others is what Jesus did during three years of ministry. Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd, and gave examples through His teaching of the way that He loves and cares for His flock. This is an example we need to follow. It is also an example we must show not just to our children and our grandchildren, but to our neighbors and colleagues, and to anyone who may cross the path that God has set us on. David the farmer’s son is sowing different seed as a chaplain. But if you think about it, Jesus calls us all to be chaplains.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)


The Eyes Have It

Proverbs 27:20

“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
“Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.” – NIV

I, I

I enjoy video games. I have done for a long long time. I have worked in a video game shop. When a new big game comes out I find it hard to resist: I want to play it, to experience it. I knew the latest Grand Theft Auto would be a well deserved 18: but I am a sensible deserving adult, right? However upon playing a portion of the game I just simply decided that I didn’t want this kind of thing in my life. I can appreciate that it is a good game: the mechanics work well but for me the mechanics are implemented in a dark fashion. So I got rid of it. To be honest it was a sacrifice. I enjoyed most elements of the game but when it forces me in a direction that I don’t want to go in and have no chance to skip, I have to make a choice.

Why? Because what I fill my life with dominates it. What I let my eyes see affects my actions. Or as Jesus put it: what I fill my heart with will eventually come to the surface. Let me be clear – I’m not suggesting that playing dark or violent video games will turn a person into a killer: just that at some point, on some level, it will have an impact on their mood and outlook. That’s why despite me enjoying parts of the game, especially the chance to play online with friends, I have decided it’s not for me. I guess it crossed a line that I didn’t want to. Now I still have games in my collection that involve things like shooting so what does this verse have to say about them?

Balance in Favour of God

The eyes are never satisfied. They take everything in and the more they see of one thing the more they want it. Be that video games, films, porn or purity. People talk about our lives being in balance but for me the key is to make sure your eyes see enough of God that they just keep wanting more. The times I have genuinely spent focusing on God are the times when all other things in my life take a back seat. You may not like video games but I guarantee there is something in your life that is your go to thing when God is not central. The thing you spend most of your time doing, or thinking about when you aren’t doing it. If we could make God that thing, a lot of our other problems would fade into insignificance.

Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’


Doing Our Duty

Proverbs 27:18

18 Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.

Lazy or Hardworking?

Perhaps you have heard the fable of “The Grasshopper and the Ant”.

The ant works hard all summer getting food ready for the winter. The grasshopper merely enjoys his lazy summer days lying around making fun of the ant for working so hard. When winter comes, the grasshopper has no food, so he goes to the ant. Depending the version of the story you find, the ant tells the grasshopper “If I give you food to eat that you did not earn, I will not have enough to get through the winter. You cannot have any of my food.”

If we have a garden and do not tend it, there will be very little food to eat at harvest. If we tend our garden and work hard at protecting and nurturing it, we will have an abundance of food at harvest.

Serving our Master

Likewise, if we work hard at what we are tasked to do (at work, at play, in anything that requires doing something that may be hard), we will be honored – respected, and rewarded.

This can be seen through promotions or bonuses at work, new friendships, getting awards, or another other number of good things.

Also, if we serve our Lord and Savior faithfully by sharing the gospel and helping those in need, we will one day get to hear Jesus say to us in persons “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-34, NIV

Dear Lord, give us the strength and integrity to do what we must and to do it well. Empower us to share Your love and healing with our world that we may One Day hear You say “Well done!”


Unnecessary Pain

Proverbs 25:19

19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

Hiking the Trails

I enjoy going on hiking and camping trips. I find them relaxing and refreshing.

Those long walks and getting away from it can be a relief to a weary mind and soul. Making simple meals over a fire (or out of a bag) is such a joy.

However, if I were to slip and twist my ankle, my hike would be more of a bother than a time of relaxation.

If I in my slip I fell and broke my tooth, my meals would be a time of anxiety rather than of joy.

A “friend”

On one trip into the wilderness with a college group, we had been out hiking and camping for three days. We had a great time.

On the hike out, a couple of the hikers grew quite tired and had run out water. One of our friends, who had decided at the last minute to join our group, did not even slow down to help. When all but those two were at the meeting point for almost half an hour, we got worried. The one mentioned seeing them, and then he started walking on ahead toward the exit.

He did not help us locate our friends, and he did not seem interested in helping in any other way, either. All he managed was to cause unnecessary pain through more grief and tension!

The Golden Rule

Followers of Jesus are expected to help others, for we may in fact be helping Him increase His Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46).

What kind of friend are you?

If you see someone in need do you find out if you can help, or do you carry on your way with little thought about the matter?

Do bring relief or cause more pain?

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:9-12, NIV

Lord, help us to love as You love. Fill us with Your compassion and grace, that we may not cause unnecessary pain on others in their time of need. Help us to be Your faithful servants to this lost and hurting world.


Refreshed

Proverbs 25:13

13 As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.

Working Up a Sweat

I was born in upstate New York, so I know some things about snow.

I was raised in central Illinois, so I know some things about harvest time.

I currently live in Phoenix, Arizona, so I know some things about wanting some of that snow again!

I have worked in corn and soybean fields in the middle of summer.  I have also done many different things outside during the summer in Phoenix. They can be very hot and demanding on the body. It is the kind of thing where you long for a just a moment of snowfall to get relief from the heat and exhaustion.

It is kind of like getting a hold of some ice-cold water in the middle of those days, but it cools the entire body.

Refreshing the Soul

Whether a sinner far from God or the godliest saint alive, we all go through times when life just seems too much.

It feels like it has been forever since we have found encouragement, spent time with friends, had a fulfilling day at work, or just a day off.

Having that one person who comes along and says just the right thing, hangs out with you, makes your work feel worth it or helps you get through the worst part of your work, or takes a shift for you can feel like that sudden snow at the end of a late, hot summer day.

Likewise, when the weight of this world weighs heavy on your shoulders, that person who shares the gospel or a word of encouragement from God can be just as refreshing.

It is the One who literally took on the weight of the world on His shoulders coming into your heart and lifting it up.

It is so refreshing knowing the Lord of Creation and Lover of your soul is there with you.

Dear Father, grant us peace throughout our days and in our troubles. Help us to rely on You. Help us to carry your refreshing grace to our tired and burdened world.