Category Archives: Promises

Am I seeking good and God?

Seek good and find delight

There are many things I can be the student of in life. Seeking good is God’s goal for me and should be the only priority.

God wants me to go after wisdom and good like there is no tomorrow. In fact, we all know that there is a reality called “here today, gone tomorrow”. I have today.

How do I spend my time? What kind of TV do I watch? What am I searching for on the internet?

Am I seeking good and God? It is an essential question. Is my priority the kingdom of God where Jesus is the Master? Is it? Is it really?

Of course, there is a consequence to being a student of evil. It is sad but God warns me that if I seek evil I will become evil.  I will find what I seek. It is my choice.  Jesus alerts me that there is a way that leads to life. That way is Jesus.

May I seek good. May I find delight. So be it.

“The one who seeks good finds delight; the student of evil becomes evil.” ~~King Solomon (Proverbs 11:27)

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Debts & Promises

My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Proverbs 6:1‭-‬5, NKJV

Co-signed

Have you ever needed to take out a loan or get a service (cable, telephone, electricity, etc.), but your credit was … lacking? You need a co-signer to get that loan or service.

Perhaps you have been on the other side and have been the co-signer. It can be scary either way. I have been on both sides.

I have had to pay debts friends and family could not pay, and sometimes it was a struggle financially.

This could be a lesson on Christ’s sacrifice posting our debt of sin. Instead, this is about seeing how our promises can catch us.

Leaving the Altar

You see, our commitments have effects on others. We promise to pay that bill. We promise to be at that event. We promise to carry our fair share.

And then we don’t.

We put up the strong front and commit to keeping other promises.

Say, tithing.

But Jesus says, “if you bring your gift to the altar, and then remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and first go be reconciled to your brother before returning to offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23‭-‬24)

In other words, humble yourself, and do what is right.

If as the one who owes, confess your wrong or inability and seek forgiveness. If as the one who is owed, forgive the debt (of the promise, of the burden) and move on (possibly through making a plan or as simply releasing all responsibility).

The big point is to hold onto the relationship above all else.

That is why Jesus sacrificed glory, comfort, and life: to forgive our debts and broken promises to restore the relationship. And He arose to guarentee it for eternity.


As Bloodthirsty as Cain

Proverbs 29:10 

The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.
The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright. (NIV)

What amount of hatred is necessary for a person to want to kill another? We only get four chapters into Genesis before we read about the first murder, amazingly the result of sibling rivalry. Cain, the eldest son of Adam and Eve, becomes jealous of his younger brother Abel. That jealousy intensifies when God favors the harvest gift brought by Abel, and tells Cain to get his act together. Instead of listening to God Cain lets his jealousy fester, and in a blind rage plots to kill his brother. You would think that by the time Cain and Abel take a walk into the fields together Cain would have relented, but he hasn’t.

As with many proverbs it would be easy to read this one and believe that it does not apply to us. We probably identify ourselves with the upright person of integrity rather than the bloodthirsty. Yes, there may be times we might have thought or even said we could kill someone, but we tell ourselves it was only ever a thought. The problem is that for Cain the act of murder began with just a thought. Knowing how thoughts can translate into actions Jesus warned: 

“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. (Matthew 5:21-22 NLT)

Sobering teaching indeed and a reminder that God knows our minds, our thoughts, our words before they are formed, and our deeds before they are done. If we consider this teaching without taking into account the life and death of Jesus then we would conclude quite rightly that it is completely impossible for any mortal being to come near to God. We are not worthy. We are as bloodthirsty as Cain. But our merciful God through His indescribable grace sent Jesus so that even the most bloodthirsty and heinous human being could be redeemed at no absolutely cost to humanity. If we fix our eyes on Jesus and surrender to Him the past no longer matters. If we allow the beauty of Jesus to flood into our lives everything changes, for He makes all things new.


Give, and It Shall Be Given

Proverbs 28:27 

“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.”

Not the Lottery

Don’t think that by giving a dollar here and there to the poor, like during the Christmas season when you pass by a Salvation Army kettle, that such charity will produce lottery winning-like fruit. There is nothing in this proverb that guarantees you will be rich in return for your philanthropy.

However, the first promise of this proverb (if nothing more than a statement based on general observation) says that the person who gives to the poor will not lack. In other words, don’t worry about your own needs when you give to those less fortunate.

If I have heard it said once, I’ve heard it said thousands of times, “You can’t out-give God.”

Not a Safe Deposit

On the other end of this proverb is another promise. It states that the one who looks away from the poor in order to conserve his own wealth, whether it be commodities of gold or personal energy, will surely pay for his lack of generosity.

Poverty

Poverty (Photo credit: Teo’s photo)

Some people will walk right by a beggar, a person asking for a dollar for food, or even a Salvation Army kettle at Christmas and think to themselves, “I have to hold on to my money.” The only problem with that kind of thinking is that your money is not really your money. And when it comes to not giving in order to save up for a rainy day, the rot of one’s own greed can eat away at any thing stored down here.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

So, as Jesus said, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38 NLT).


Prior Planning and Preparation

Proverbs 24:27 

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.
Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. (NIV)

photoA very good friend of mine is building his retirement home at the moment. I have to admit that Frank has certain advantages as a trained carpenter who has worked in construction all his life. He also has experience, having built his first house forty years ago. Frank sold that house when his father died and moved into his dad’s bungalow. Directly behind his father’s home there was an orchard. Frank cleared the orchard and some old outbuildings, and got planning permission to build a large garage with an adjoining workshop. This was designed and constructed so that it would comply with the rules for a residential building, with the aim of one day converting the garage/workshop. That work is currently underway. A new smaller garage has been completed and the former garage/workshop extended and altered internally. The roof is now complete, windows were being fitted last week, and under-floor heating has been installed.

A great deal of planning has gone into Frank’s new home over a number of years. There has been wise financial planning, and much forethought on many levels, including the need to comply with past and present building regulations. Without this level of planning Frank would not have been able to build his new house.

Thinking about this proverb and the way that Frank has planned reminds me of another carpenter, and the amount of prior planning and preparation that preceded His arrival in the world 2,000 years ago. God didn’t just have a bright idea one day in Heaven. He planned for His Son to visit our planet in human form before He created the Universe. Furthermore, God’s attention to even the smallest detail meant that He planned the writing of this Proverbial Thought and He knew who would read it. I find that absolutely mind blowing. Having planned and prepared God then built His house. Jesus told us that it has many rooms; and that there is a room in His Father’s house for each of us. It gets better. Jesus paid the rent up front, in full.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4 NIV)

Moving the Goalposts

Proverbs 22:28 

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers set up by previous generations. (NLT)

My house is one of a cul-de-sac of eleven homes that were built in the late 1980s on land that was previously an apple orchard. Owners of bungalows behind the new cul-de-sac believed that bungalows would be built in the orchard. Instead the developer built two-story homes that overlooked the bungalows. To placate the mainly elderly bungalow dwellers the developer erected a six-foot high fence between the new houses and the bungalows.

All was well until my rear fence blew down in a storm. The neighbor in the bungalow behind my house soon asked me when I would carry out repairs. I told him that according to my deeds the fence was his responsibility, and showed him the deeds. He then admitted that the fence had been built eighteen inches on my side of the original boundary and that he had removed the previous fence and gained eighteen inches of garden. Eighteen inches of my garden to be precise. Although hardly an ancient landmark, the boundary had been moved.

I do not believe that my neighbor intended to cheat me. He just did what seemed logical, never expecting to be rumbled one day. Am I bothered? Not really. I never had that eighteen-inch strip of land, and my neighbor is a good man, who on viewing my deeds immediately agreed to pay for the fence repair. Others may have taken a different view and demanded that the fence be moved.

moving-the-goal-posts_dilbert_9498While the removal of ancient landmarks was a serious offence when this proverb was written, the issue remains relevant today, but not only where property is concerned. The modern day equivalent in the UK is ‘moving the goalposts.’ This metaphor may have its origins in sport, but is increasingly used to describe an agreement or business deal where one party changes the conditions to the detriment of the other. The word cheat, as used in the NLT translation of this verse, is an apt description of a person who moves a boundary, the goalposts, or acts in a generally devious manner that harms another person to the benefit of the cheat.

There are goalposts or boundaries set for us by God that we should never try to move. In Acts 17:26 Paul states:  ‘From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.’ That is a mind-blowing statement. God who knows no boundaries is so involved in every aspect of our daily lives that He marked out boundaries for when and where we should live. This means that you are where you are now because God placed you there, and God wants you there. It is futile to try to move God’s goalposts. Instead we should rejoice in His intimate involvement in our lives.


Know the Certainty

Proverbs 22:17-21

17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
18 For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
19 That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

The Importance of Scripture

Over the course of the past 22 chapters of Proverbs, we have seen all of the commands to hold to wisdom and take heed of the words that have been shared.

The Psalms speak repeatedly of God’s Law and the words of Scripture being so important, that we should memorize and act on these words.

What is so important about these words of wisdom and instruction?

Pointing to Something

As has been mentioned before, Jesus is the Wisdom of God (Proverbs 8, John 1).

Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17, NIV)

He also said, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44, NIV)

And Paul also mentioned Jesus: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NIV).

Finally, because we know this, we find in Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV):

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Dear Lord, help us to hold fast to Your Truth in our hearts and minds, that we may be changed to impact our world for Your glory!