Category Archives: Faithfulness

Head vs Heart

Proverbs 19:2

‘Desire without knowledge is not good –
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!’

Desirable

It’s good to be passionate, to have strong desires to be love and to care. Without it life would be very boring, but as this Proverb hints at heart without a bit of head can lead us to miss the real path.

Unbalanced

A lot of people these days are driven purely by emotion. They go after things they want with reckless abandon. When we are totally driven by emotion we often end up making bad decisions and hurting people in the process. People driven by emotion will throw away relationships on a whim because they have seen the next best thing, they will chase promotions at the expense of colleagues, they will attempt to satisfy every whim and fancy in any way possible, and worst of all usually be blind to the trail of destruction in their wake. Our emotions need to submit to our common sense, and both need to submit to Jesus.

Counting the Cost

We need both desire and knowledge to make our decisions as we do not want to miss the way. Consider the words of Jesus:

Luke 14:28-33 ‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” ‘Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.’

May we learn the power of passion and desire guided by wisdom and knowledge.


Big Ears

Proverbs 18:13 

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
To answer before listening – that is folly and shame. (NIV)

It doesn’t matter how much teaching we receive on the subject of listening, or how many times we are reminded by Scripture (James 1:19) to be quick to listen and slow to speak, most of us are not good listeners. Isn’t it true that when we are on the listening end of a conversation we are only partially listening? Generally we are working out our reply and looking for the opportunity to interrupt so that we can say what we want to say.

Our failure to be listeners exists despite our own experience of being in conversations where we know that the other person hasn’t heard a word we have said. Such experience means that we are all acutely aware of the need to be good listeners. It is foolish, rude, and shameful to interrupt with a response when the other party to a conversation has not finished speaking.

Listening requires focus and concentration. It is important that we hear correctly and understand what is being said, not just in conversations with other people, but when we come to God in prayer. So how do you approach God in prayer? With a listening heart or a chattering mouth? Or do you start out planning to listen but end up butting in so many times that you never really hear what God is saying to you? God speaks to us in many different ways. It is essential that we take time to ensure that we hear what He is saying. While that means listening carefully, it also means growing in our understanding and knowledge of Him. It is a bit like learning to speak a foreign language effectively. It requires practice and a lot of work to achieve real understanding.


Can You Hear Me Now?

Proverbs 15:29

The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

220px-George_MullerHis name is one that many people may not know. It sounds like any other name and if it was said aloud, most would scratch their heads and wander who is this gentleman. His name was plain, but to a group of children that depended on him every day for their well-being, he was a saint. His name was George Muller.

George Muller was a christian evangelist and director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England. It is said that during his time as director, that more than 10,000 children were cared for and loved.

More importantly, George Muller was a man that loved the Lord. No, I am not saying that George Muller was a religious man, I am saying that he had a personal relationship with God.

Our verse today talks about the “prayer of the righteous”. I can assure you that the Lord heard the prayers of George Muller. Am I saying that George Muller was perfect? Far from it, but I know by his fruits that he loved the Lord with all his heart and it showed.

James 5:16b says these very powerful words, “…the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Mr. Muller never once asked for donations from the public to help support the orphanage. He always prayed and depended on God to supply the need. On one occasion, when there was no food in the orphanage at all, Muller had the children come to the tables for breakfast and sit down and pray. At the end of the prayer, a baker and a milkman showed up at the front door with both bread and milk to meet the need.

The Lord heard the prayers of George Muller and He can also hear the prayers that comes from you and me, but we must have the correct connection.

Several years back, Verizon Wireless had a commercial that showed a guy walking around everywhere asking the question, “Can you hear me  now?” The point of the commercial was to show the consumer that Verizon’s coverage was strong and that the connection between two phones was always going to be there and that both parties would be heard.

God has laid out for us some requirements in order for Him to hear our prayers – WE MUST BE RIGHTEOUS! Does this mean that we have to be perfect, no, but we must strive to fear Him and be faithful to Him in everything we do.

Do you want God to hear your prayers? Then strive to be a righteous person – not religious, but righteous!

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm  145:18,19).


Sacri-nice

Proverbs 15:8

“The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”

What God Wants…

God hates the sacrifice of the wicked, but he isn’t to keen on the sacrifice of the righteous either, especially when it becomes the be all and end all. Countless times in the Bible God makes the point that He isn’t interested in sacrifices, the idea of coming and making a payment for your transgressions. No, what He is interested in is your behavior, how you will respond to His grace and forgiveness in your own life, and how that will inspire you to treat others.

Inspired by?

In Matthew 18 we see the story of a servant who owes his master a huge amount of money. He’s panicking, how will he pay this back? What will happen to his family? He goes before the master and begs for more time, and incredibly the master let’s him off. Scot free. Let’s not miss the huge significance of this – this is truly incredible and as counter cultural now as it was then.

I sometimes watch Undercover Boss, now I am not naive I know it’s probably scripted, but I can’t help but be moved when some big CEO enters the life of a low level employee, sees their struggles and their debt, and does something about it. What we never see is how this affects the person in question. They seem very grateful in the moment, but we never see the lasting change.

Not so with this servant. The Bible tells us that straight away he went looking for another servant who owed him a considerably smaller amount. We’d be entitled to think that he had in mind to set this servant free from his debt, to share the grace he had experienced. But in fact all he wants is the money owed to him. How sad that this servant was even more enslaved to money than he originally thought.

Washing feet

At the opposite end of the spectrum we find Jesus. Jesus the entirety of God squeezed into man form, denying His deity to inspire humanity, relying fully on the Father to further the future of the broken. We all know Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, we all know this should blow our tiny minds, but I’ll be honest it was just one of those things I accepted, until I reread the account and came to these verses in John 13:3-5 ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.’ 

Why did Jesus do this? BECAUSE He knew who he was. Because He wanted to show the world a powerful image of what happens when we take the lowest place.

Prayer

All very good and well you may say but how’s this connected to the proverb? Prayer changes everything. If you want to be a person who shares grace rather than shrugs grace then you need to start on your knees.


Carpenter King

Proverbs 14:35

“The king’s favor is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.”

I only know one King. He is not an earthly king, in fact he was born into poverty, apparently while his parents were accommodated in a stable. While He was still quite young, this King was exiled from His homeland. When He returned home this King learned a trade, and qualified as a carpenter. Some years later, but while He was still a young man, the carpenter King became an itinerant. He had no palace, in fact He had nowhere to lay His head.

Somehow the itinerant King gathered a band of followers, twelve of whom became so special to the King that He called them His disciples. These disciples weren’t exactly servants, and they struggled to understand their King at times. The King rejoiced when His disciples exhibited wisdom, but often felt frustration at their lack of understanding. While they may have let him down from time to time, only one disciple disgraced the King, and walked away from His favor.

It seems incredible that this disciple rejected his King, turning the King over to the authorities of the day for a financial reward. In a disgraceful, shameful act of betrayal this disciple led soldiers to his King. He planted a kiss on the King’s cheek to identify Him. The King was taken away, interrogated, tortured, and sentenced to death. Although the King was innocent of all charges, He was publicly executed by being nailed to a wooden cross. As He hung on that cross He accepted the wrath and the shame that should have been levied against His subjects.

Lift up your eyes to the cross of the King! While He is long gone from that cross, the cross reminds us that our shame has been replaced by His favor, because He took the shame and made it His. That is His gift to you. Favor instead of shame. Are you a wise servant? Will you accept this gift from the King?


I Know Who to Trust

Proverbs 14:26

In the fear of the LORD [is] strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

My Refuge

As a child I knew where to run and hide when the sound of thunder came. Actually, to be honest, thunder never really bothered me that much, because I had an early belief that if it was God’s will for me to be hurt in the storm, it would happen. Otherwise, regardless of the booming in the sky, I was going to be OK.

I trusted in God even in my youth, much like David…

For thou [art] my hope, O Lord GOD: [thou art] my trust from my youth. – Psalm 71:5

But when there was the perception of a monster outside, or under my bed, or threatening to harm me after going out with his girlfriend, my “confidence” was in my father, my dad, who wasn’t afraid of anybody.

In all honesty, my “place of refuge” was more often my earthly father, not my heavenly One.

Refuge Shattered

But then, on the 11th of June, 1991, my “place of refuge” from the bad guys, monsters, heartaches, disappointments, etc., came tumbling down. My dad died.

It never crossed my mind…I’m only thinking about it right now as I write this post…but I should have known my dad’s strength was much more limited than I gave it credit.

Job spoke of people who’s confidence, whose hope, would wind up as worthless as those who fell into a spider’s web, hoping its strength would keep them from falling.

Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust [the same word translated as confidence in Prov. 14:26] shall be a spider’s web. – Job 8:14

Too often, and it’s this way with most everyone, we put our confidence in things that will never be able to catch us when we fall, support us when we doubt, or protect us when we hide. But…

Blessed [is] the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. – Jeremiah 17:7

Our Strong Confidence

So, what can we count on? Where do we go when we don’t have the answers? Where do we run to hide when thunderous doubt rumbles the foundations of our soul?

The fear of the LORD is our STRONG CONFIDENCE!

Just today I was reading from Proverbs 30. There, in the first few verses, Agur, in a self-deprecating fashion, proclaims that he is not wise, nor does he claim to have any special understanding of the ways of God. However

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. – Proverbs 30:5

I fear God. Meaning, I know better than to question His wisdom and power and might! He never lies, His promises are sure, and HE will never leave me nor forsake me! My “strong confidence” is in the same hand that can crush nations and fling stars – I fear Him!

But I also trust Him.

Because He said he loves me.

And I believe Him.


The Evil Dead

Proverbs 14:19

‘Evil men will bow down in the presence of the good,
    and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.’

Slim Consolation

The Bible is full of good honest people asking the question, “Why do bad people prosper, and good people suffer?” This is a question that still haunts us now. The song writer Josh Garrels quips in his song ‘Farther Along’ – ‘Tempted and tried, I wonder why the good man dies, bad man thrives and Jesus cries cus He loves them both.’ The Bible also tells us that the bad, or evil will get their comeuppance. But when we are seeing the evil thrive very close to home while we also struggle to live the way we’d like, not to mention all our brothers and sisters all over the world facing persecution for Christ, this can be hard to swallow. This verse may provide some comfort in the thought that one day things will be made right, but what about now?

The Inconvenient Truth

Romans 11 verse 14 tells us that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, whether they want to or not! One day you may be falling to your knees in worship while the person next to you is having an uncomfortable moment of realisation and regret. What will you think in that moment? Will you be glad that the evil are finally about to get their just desserts? Or will you be wishing you had done more to help people see Jesus in this life so they are not surprised in the next?