Category Archives: Faithfulness

Never Underestimate Jealousy

Proverbs 6:34-35

“For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.”

These two verses are stocked full of practical insight which is lost on the man who fools around with a married woman. The wisdom of Solomon should be heeded, for nothing good comes from making a married man jealous. But there is also wisdom to be had for the woman.

Foolish Games

I recently read an article on a website called Selfgrowth.com entitled “How to Make a Guy Jealous – 5 Teasing Ways to Make Him Want You More.” In that article, written for girls, the writer suggests that “jealousy can also be good – just as long as it’s not destructive.” Really, what kind of wisdom is that? Well, I guess one should consider the source. Just read the author’s bio:

“Steffi Hall is a seduction and attraction expert who teaches men how to attract and pick up beautiful women. As a former model who has been sought after by many men, Steffi has the experience in passing on the skill of attraction, since she was a target of many men herself. There is no better teacher then the target itself, learn from the source.”

Do verses 25 and 26 of this chapter ring a bell? Why would anyone want to learn about relationships from a self-proclaimed seducer? How wise is it to tell your current man “about your other guy friends and what you usually do when you hangout,” or how your ex “was such a great kisser?”

Jealousy is a foolish game to play, for jealousy often leads to rage.

Rage Against Fools

Proverbs 6:27 and 28 talk about getting “burned.” Verse 33 talks about getting “wounds.” No wonder Solomon says in verse 32 that a man who commits adultery with a woman “lacketh understanding.” Aside from having no “heart,” the man is a fool. Does he ever stop to consider that the husband may want revenge?

I have personally known of several men who had their wives betray them.  In one of those cases the husband killed the adulterer and the adulteress with a shotgun. In another, the husband killed his wife, then himself. The rage that results from being betrayed by a spouse in very dangerous, and in these two cases what Solomon warned came to pass – the husbands did not “spare in the day of vengeance.”

Fool’s Gold

Even if adultery doesn’t end in murder, it usually ends in divorce. What kind of fool thinks he can lay with another man’s wife and then smooth everything over with money and gifts? Evidently, some do. Some think they can bribe themselves out of any situation.

Solomon warns that a jealous man is one who cannot be bought off or placated with money or things. If money can’t buy love, it can’t replace love betrayed.

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Making Plans

Proverbs 6:6-8

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.”

In this world …

As Anthony pointed out yesterday, there is a lot of practical advice for everyday life found in Proverbs.

My wife and I work in schools. This means we have summers off from work. We have a couple of options when the summer comes:

  1. One or both of us can find summer jobs to cover expenses.
  2. We can set aside some of each paycheck to help cover expenses for the two to three months we do not work.

Especially with all of the economic concerns in our world today, it is a good idea to save up the money needed in case a summer job cannot be found. Doing this, however, requires discipline and a plan. It is not always easy to remember or even want to set money aside.

There are unexpected expenses that arise. A friend might call and say it is a great day to go out and do something. That new phone/car/movie might come out that everyone (including you and me) just has to have. These can make saving money hard, but we can learn from our friend the ant how wise it is to plan and implement those plans well.

In the next …

This passage is also a good reminder of what comes after this life. There are many who plan on waiting until the last moment of life to make any meaningful change in their lives and/or to follow God.

One problem with this is that we never know when we might die. A few are able to know their end is near and can make a conscious change, but most people are caught unaware through accidents, violence, wars, and sudden terminal illnesses.

The next problem is that we never know when Christ will return. He even warned us:

1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Matthew 25:1-13

Showing discipline and actively preparing for whatever may come not only helps us in this life, it prepares us for the next.

Loving Lord, grant us the patience and discipline we need to have full and wise lives. Grant us the wisdom to prepare for unforseen circumstances as well as expected, and help is remain faithful until Your return!


It Takes Passion

Proverbs 4:20-22

“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”

An intellectual gets great joy from learning and is invigorated by knowledge and good debate.

An avid reader gets great joy from a good book and has his or her spirit lifted by a great story.

A social person gets great joy from social interaction and is sustained by spending time with others.

A private person gets great joy from some quiet time and is refreshed by personal alone time.

God gives these desires … and uses them for His glory.

Nicodemus sought knowledge from the Teacher, and he was born again (see John 3:1-21, for example).

The Bereans found new life by reading the Scriptures foretelling the Messiah (see Acts 17:10-12).

Mary discovered everlasting life by talking with (and listening to) Jesus (see Luke 10:38-42).

Anna beheld her salvation after decades in prayerful solitude (see Luke 2:36-38).

These were all people who listened to the teachings of those who came before and especially of God. They kept God’s word within themselves and studied it fervently.

Do you?

It is not enough to just read books, talk with people, or seclude yourself from society. It is not enough to go to church services and functions or to do good things.

It takes a disciplined heart and a passion for God to truly live a godly life. And the best possibility for a long, healthy life this side of heaven comes from living a godly life (see verse 22).

Dear Lord, give us that passion for Your truth. Help us to cherish Your word and to live out Your commands.


Wisdom Is Life

Proverbs 4:13

“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.”

As I finish my degree in Christian Leadership, I am beginning to focus on working toward eventually getting a Masters in Secondary Education for Math. I have had both memories of hearing others (and thinking myself) while in high school “Why do I need to know this?” as well as heard current classmates working toward teaching degrees and students at the elementary school where I work asking the same question.

Come to think of it, as children (and even adults) we ask more than anything:

Why?

Why do I have to do this? Why do I need this? Why is this important? Why should I care?

Asking these questions is not bad, but we should be willing to learn from the answers.

Why?

Because, those answers just might be “thy life.”

Jesus famously said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) so that qualifies Him for authority. We should listen to what He says.

But beyond that …

We want to know as children why, because we want to know how things work. Some of us never grow out of that.

Parents share what they have learned from others and from experience what a child needs to know about how this world works so that they might have a better life, or at the very least that they might be able to live this life.

God the Father wants us to live life.

He sent prophets. He sent His Son. He sent His Church.

God has given us instruction for life, even to the point of coming in person to teach us.

Just as the things we learn as children help prepare us to be adults, the things we learn from God’s word – written, spoken, and lived out – help prepare us for eternity.

As Jesus said:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
John 6:63

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
John 14:21

The only way to eternal life is to believe and follow Jesus’ instructions, His commands. Read your Bible, learn His ways, and put them into practice.

Lord Jesus, give us a passion for your words. Give us ears to hear, minds to understand, wisdom to implement, and the strength to live.


Don’t Wait to Give

Proverbs 3:27-28

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”

The Call to Give

In 1998 my eldest son Nick was accepted onto a Baptist Missionary Society gap year scheme that required him to raise £2,400 ($3,700) to cover his costs. He carried out some fund raising, but also received gifts from various individuals and organizations. It was around this time that I heard God tell me very clearly to make a specific financial gift to a person serving in full time ministry who needed to purchase a new car. I refused. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money, it just sounded too much to give. Every day in my quiet time I heard God repeat Himself, but still I held back.

One Sunday morning after church a retired nurse from our congregation gave Nick a gift of £100 ($155) towards his gap year. When Nick told me, I went to thank her. She didn’t welcome my thanks, but told me that when God told her to make this gift her response was, “I couldn’t possibly give that much. I am just a pensioner.” But God repeated His instruction until she obeyed. As she related the background behind her gift I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I was challenged by my own disobedience.

As soon as I arrived home I wrote out a cheque (check) for the amount God had told me to give and posted it. I soon received a letter of grateful thanks, but had to write back and admit that I should have sent the gift three months earlier. That young man and his family are now serving God in Africa, but their need right then in 1998 was for a car so that they could continue to serve Him in the UK.

The Blessing of the Gift

What did that £100 and all the other gifts mean to Nick? It meant that he could spend six months in Trinidad working without pay as an assistant teacher in a poorly resourced Baptist school. Trinidad changed Nick’s career plans and it changed his life. Instead of looking to a career in journalism he next spent a year as a Youth for Christ volunteer, followed by three years training for youth ministry. Nick is currently serving as youth pastor at a church in the north of England.

The Message translation of Proverbs 3:27 says: ‘Never walk away from someone who deserves help. Your hand is God’s hand for that person.’ We may never see the true benefits of our gifts of help, time, or money. What matters is that we are obedient to God when He tells us to give. The blessing of the gift is that it blesses others, not just the immediate recipient.

And it pleases God.


True Substance

Proverbs 3:9-10

“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

It is great that the King James Version says “Honour the LORD with thy substance,” because most other translations say wealth. It is also great that it says “with the firstfruits of all thine increase,” because most other translations say crops or produce.

It is great, because these words say so much more.

Giving it all

Allow me to paraphrase: “Give God everything of who you are and let God use you and what you have, and give God the first part of anything you get above what you have.”

This is not a prosperity gospel message, but if you honor God with what you have He will give you more. If you continue giving back when you get more, you will find your barns (or bank account or pantry or whatever) full and more than you can handle.

But it is because you are thinking about God and others, not yourself and how comfortable you are. It is because you are focused on pleasing God, not growing your portfolio or your bank account.

Jesus mentioned it, too

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus discusses that those who show they are good stewards of what they are given are given more. Those who sit on, hide, or squander what they are given will have it taken away. (But we must also remember that in all things “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” (Job 1:21) must be true. Even good stewards may see everything taken away if it is for the good of the Church and glorifies God.)

The true increase and blessing is the joy of our Heavenly Father in our faithfulness and commitment to Him. We honor God because He deserves it and we love Him. We give because He gives and we love Him.

If we give simply because we expect something in return, then we should expect nothing. We are not honoring God; we are honoring ourselves.

Gracious God, Thank You for Your love and Your grace. Increase Your love in us. Give us giving hearts and a will to seek after You alone, that You may be glorified in us.


Trust the Guide

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

My Dad

Unlike me, my dad was brought up in a rough and tough home. At the age of 14, for his birthday, he received his first moonshine still. In high school he was one of the “protectors” who protected for a fee. Up until he met my mother in the middle 1960’s he was still running white lightning through the hills of Tennessee and building drag cars.

As a high school senior my dad benched 300 lbs.; ran track; threw shot put; was the state heavyweight wrestling champion; loved to fight; and could drink away a paycheck. But just a few years later, on the living room floor of my mother’s house, he gave his heart to Jesus Christ, and nothing stayed the same.

My Dad’s Guidance

My father was a wise man, but make no mistake about it, he earned his wisdom the hard way. And I did my best to follow his instruction, because I figured he knew what he was talking about. He had seen and done a lot, and he had the scars to prove it.

One day he told me, “Son, sin is fun. Alcohol tastes good. The devil has a lot to offer. But let me tell you, when you have friends bleed to death in your arms you’ll realize sin ain’t worth the price.” Spoken like the humble preacher he was.

When I got old enough to run wild, I didn’t. When I could drive, I drove safely. When I dated, I saved myself for marriage. Was I perfect? Absolutely not! But every time I came close to messing up I would remember my dad, his words, and his example. That remembrance helped direct my path.

Solomon’s Dad

Solomon had a father, also. His name was King David, and he also knew the cost of sin, the feeling of spilled blood.

God gave Solomon wisdom, but some of it came through the words of David, Solomon’s rough and tough dad. I wonder if the above verses were based on the following advice given years earlier?

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. – 1Chronicals 28:9 NKJV

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. – Psalm 37:3-5 KJV

Solomon surely took his father’s words to heart. Our Father asks us to do the same.

A Prayer

Lord God, I am so tempted to do things my way. I am tempted so often to trust my own feelings, to follow my heart. Help me, Lord, to acknowledge that you have traveled this way before. Help me to listen and pay attention as you guide me through the curves of life, making them as good as straight.

Related Link: “First Post” – A tribute to my father, Rev. Terry L. Baker.