Category Archives: Giving Honor

Sowing Discord

Proverbs 6:19b

“[These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:] … A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Aimed at the Church?

If there were only one of the seven things that God hates that could be directed at the church it would have to be the last in the list:

He that soweth discord among brethren.

I have lost count of the times I have heard Christian brothers and sisters moaning and complaining, criticizing and gossiping. Such displays of discord, disharmony and disunity usually take place inside the church building, often immediately after a service. How does that work? We enter a building we call God’s sanctuary, we go through the motions of worshipping God, and we listen as the pastor brings God’s word. Then when the service is over we may find ourselves talking to others about how the worship wasn’t very good, or how the pastor spoke for too long. Or perhaps we gossip about others in the church. If you are reading this blog and you have never indulged in such behavior then you probably are not a resident of planet Earth.

Hands Up!

It is time, brothers and sisters, to put our hands up and acknowledge that we have used harmful words, that we have sown discord in our church fellowships, and we have offended God by doing so.

Here’s the challenge. Instead of criticizing your pastor this Sunday, how about thanking him for his sermon, and for all the other stuff he does, most of which you will never see or know about.

Instead of moaning about the musicians, how about encouraging them, even if they played too slow, too fast, too quietly or too loud (in your opinion).

Instead of gossiping about others, how about getting closer to them and looking at them through God’s eyes?

Instead of complaining about everything you think is wrong with your church why don’t you stop for a moment and ask God where he would like you to serve more, better or differently within your fellowship.

Koinonia

Fellowship has to be the key. Fellowship is diametrically opposed to discord. Could your church be described as a fellowship? If not, why not?

Further Reading

The Importance of Fellowship in a New Testament Church

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A Win-Win

Proverbs 3:16

“Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.”

Continuing in the description of the value of wisdom, we now come to a verse that paints a picture of a win-win situation. Do you know what that is?

A Win-Win

The best example of a win-win in my life, aside from when my wife decided she wanted to marry me, comes from my years in sales. I believe it was Zig Ziglar who said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” And that is absolutely true!

Without going into a lot of detail, I used to sell a particular big-ticket item. The potential to make a lot of money was always present, but so was the potential to take advantage of the client. I saw more than a few sales professionals convince a client to spend more than necessary, only to have the sale reversed a day later.

My philosophy was pretty simple – exceed the custormer’s expectations. How did I do that? By being an honest listener who never considered profit until after the client’s needs were met. Did I alway make money? No. But I made more than those who foolishly took advantage of others.

Even when I didn’t make an immediate paycheck, I could still sleep at night. That was truly a win-win.

Wisdom is a Win-Win

Solomon is saying that with wisdom comes both long life and honor. Many are the fools that seek riches, but die young. Many are the fools that seek long life, but die in shame.

Seek wisdom, and you will have not only what you need, but you may live long enough to enjoy it.

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:31-33 NLT


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.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 5

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: -Isaiah 29:13, KJV

close up of paper against black background

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

We must be careful how we handle the Word of God. I mean both senses of the term:

  • How do we handle Scripture? Do we read into it what we think it says? Do we read passages out of context or claim promises never meant for anyone but to whom they were made? Do we use Scripture to condemn everyone who disagrees with us or to keep people “in line”? All the while we say, “God is great. I love God.” But we are keeping God in a nice, tidy box that we can control.
  • How do we handle Jesus? Do we treat Him like a monster? Do we treat Him as if He is aloof? Do we treat Him like a genie or vending machine, expecting Him to grant all of our wishes and desires, especially when we ask/demand them? Do we treat Him like a doting grandmother, thankful for the gifts He gives, but ignoring Him most of the time? All the while we say, “Jesus is great. I love Jesus.” But we are using Jesus to control others or only get what we want.

John lived in the wilderness, ate bugs and honey, and only had one outfit. He did not tolerate using God and His Word incorrectly, but he did point us back to the wonder of God’s works, as Isaiah did:

Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. -Isaiah 29:14

We cannot forget that though we rebel against God in many ways, even as we call on His name, He does marvelous things: Most importantly, He came to save us from our rebellion and make us more like Himself. We can try and reason Him away, twist His words and actions, but He is come and has made Himself known. And we cannot stand against Him.

And when Jesus returns, we shall be made like Him – holy, blameless, and glorified, able to give Him all glory for eternity.

Lord, help us to come to Your Word humbly and correctly, to align our thoughts and emotions with Yours, to follow Your will and not our own.


Woman-hater

bubble-19329_1920And one parting post on Proverbs 31 and God’s view of women, from this Macbook at least.

It fatigues my already tired mettle when that worn out rag of an opinion resurfaces that Christianity is somehow anti-female. Of course, now that the definition of “female” is under debate, I suppose that is, itself, a shifting deck in a storm of opinion.  No matter, because at least, historically, there is in my mind (admittedly, for what that’s worth…) substantial evidence that feminism has its actual roots in true Christianity. 

Note the word “true”.  Not necessarily organized religion, because most people never bother to check out the Source Document for themselves, and if they do, it’s merely a cursory study without much in depth “what’s-really-going-on-here” desire to know truth.  I realize that’s a scathing indictment, but there it is.  

Case in point, here’s a story that can be easily misunderstood, but in reality, it’s one of my faves:

“Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret.”

Duh.  He’s at the height of His popularity.  He and His crew can barely eat or get a moment alone to rest.  No wonder He fell sound asleep on the boat in the middle of a gale!!

“Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit, and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter. Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia…”

Okay, stop right there.  There’s an old saying in ancient Judaism that goes something like, “thank God I’m not a dog, a Gentile, or a woman.”  OUCH.  In addition to these three, children in this era were also not exactly seen as high on the social scale, especially daughters.  So here’s where Jesus’ comment can be taken as confusing to our 21st century sensibilities:

 “Jesus told her, ‘First I should feed the children— my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.’”

HOLD IT!  Call in the ACLU!  Protest marches!  Pink hats and speeches!  Massive Facebook posts!  NOT FAIR!  Most of us (me included) would be offended and walk away. 

But not this mom…

“She replied, ‘That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.’”

BINGO.  This gal chose, CHOSE mind you, to not be offended.  Her need, her love for her child, was more important than her selfish pride.  You want to call me a dog?  Fine, call me what you want, but this is what I’m asking for.

Except that Jesus wasn’t actually calling her a dog.  Look again.  Look at the company He was in, the dinner party of the other Jewish men.  With those words, Jesus was holding a very clear mirror up to their faces, spewing their filth back at them. When He said those words, however, I can see His eyes transfixed on the mother’s eyes, unblinking, waiting, encouraging, hoping,…

C’mon, girl.  Don’t give in to this cultural trash.  Don’t be offended with these words.  Reach out to the real Me.  Push through the pain.  Push through the confusion.  Forget your pride, it’s not worth it.  Think of your precious child.  Here I am. 

“Good answer!” he said.  “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.”

So actually the question about feminism, in this post at least, is rather moot.  The real point is the pressing compassion of the Christ, to every human, in every culture, in every time period, as well as our extreme need to not give up when it’s so very much easier to just throw in the towel and be offended, confused, or just too fatigued to press on. 

Because no matter what, His eyes are fixed on us.  Waiting for our response.

Mark 7:24-29 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


We made it!!

mom-1508902_1280FINALLY, we come to what some may consider the capstone (or the low point, depending on your political orientation I suppose) of Proverbs—the “Proverbs 31 woman”. 

“The words of Lemuel king of Massa, which his mother taught him…”

I remember a brief conversation with my mother, probably back in the late 60’s; I was around 9 or 10.  She said to me, “Dawn, you can be ANYTHING you want to be, and you don’t even have to be just one thing—you can do more than that!”  I could grow up to be an engineer (like my dad) or a doctor, start my own business, wow. I was never really aware of any gender barriers, not in my family’s culture.  My orientation from youth was “the sky’s the limit!”  So what did I choose as my profession?

Nursing. (Duh.)

The word “feminism” carries different connotations for different individuals.  For example, there are some that get genuinely frustrated with the masculine references to God as “Father”, which I consider merely a cultural personification.  This confusion is actually nothing more than Satan’s devilish device to cloud the true issue of God’s love and ever-expanding justice.

I say “ever-expanding” because it seems that justice is one of the over-arching themes throughout the Bible, and I reference the story below as an example of how God is waiting for us to “co-labor” with Him (again, I have no problem with that pronoun) to define His love and justice to a very confused (and confusing) world.

Backstory: Moses and the people of Israel are standing on the threshold of the Promised Land.  Land ownership was an important concept, so the dividing of the land was hugely significant.  At this time in this culture, only men could “own” land, which was passed down to sons.  But this one guy (who had now died while wandering around in the wilderness during that infamous forty-year hike) was survived only by his five daughters.

Now, these ladies could have easily thrown up their hands in bitterness and just resigned themselves to their cultural fate.  OR….

“One day a petition was presented by the daughters…These women stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the tribal leaders, and the entire community at the entrance of the Tabernacle… ‘Why should the name of our father disappear from his clan just because he had no sons? Give us property along with the rest of our relatives.’ So Moses brought their case before the LORD.  And the LORD replied to Moses, ‘The claim of the daughters of Zelophehad is legitimate. You must give them a grant of land along with their father’s relatives. Assign them the property that would have been given to their father.’”

Whoa!  Talk about bold!  Talk about initiative!  These women not only acquired justice for themselves, but reading the next several verses, also for many who were to follow.  New regulations were set up because of their action.

Another interesting point is their motivation.  They didn’t want their dad’s name to be disrespected by being left out of the land grant.  It wasn’t about them, it was about the honor of their father’s name.

Hmmmm….

God calls us to “come boldly to the throne of grace…”  It is there first and foremost that we find the true definition of justice, and God’s heart in forwarding that very thing, not merely for ourselves, but for those who are to follow, and most importantly, for the honor of our Creator’s character.  In fact, the Cross is the eternal symbol of, not only God’s love, but His justice.  And it’s paid in full.

Now, THAT’S bold.

Proverbs 31:1; Numbers 27   Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 9353-9365). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.


Getting Over Ourselves for the Well Done

Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen. –Proverbs 25:6‭-‬7, KJV

You probably remember the parable of the Wedding Feast as found in Luke 14. Jesus was basically retelling Proverbs 25 verses six and seven.

What are Solomon and Jesus telling us?

Get over yourself.

We live in a very individualistic society that says it’s okay to demand the best treatment and put yourself forward. After all, you deserve it.

But God says “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

That means to not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (See Romans 12:3)

Just as Christ, who, though was in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be attained, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (See Philippians 2:6‭-‬7)

Likewise, we should not demand our own way or seek prestige, power, or popularity. (I could be a Baptist preacher with alliteration like that!)

No, we should instead put others first and then say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” (See Luke 17:10)

Then our holy King will draw us close on the last day and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”