Category Archives: Reward

Inherited Blessings

Proverbs 20:7

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (KJV)
The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. (NIV)

Walking in Integrity?

You may have noticed that there are not many people who walk with integrity in our world.

Many people find an error on their receipt and keep the excess change (although recently a relief pitcher for the baseball team the San Francisco Giants, Jeremy Affelft, discovered a half million dollar mistake in his paycheck, and returned it!), though it could cost someone their job.

Many people cut off others in traffic to save themselves time or drive slower to “keep themselves safer,” when in truth they may be causing accidents and delays.

There are a myriad of ways people do not walk in integrity, from relationships to finances to business even to church.

However, those who walk in integrity are held blameless by their families, friends, and communities. Whether it is financial, moral, or relational, those who walk in integrity leave many blessings for their children.

A Blessing with a Warning

The children of a person of integrity find that they are blessed with some influence.

People are willing to trust them because of who their parents were. Some people find they have enough money to influence others’ responses.

The wise will use this influence to make their world better. The godly will use this influence to make an impact for Christ.

However, as David and Solomon’s children demonstrated, that influence can also be used to burden and curse others.

The choice is ours how we use what our parents have left for us.

If they left us an example of integrity, may we follow that example.

If they left us an example of selfishness, pride, and violence, may we choose to follow the example of Christ and set a new example of integrity for our children.

Wise Lord, help us break the cycle of our families to walk in the integrity of Christ. Help us to live lives that are pleasing to You and blameless in the sight of our eyes, for Your glory.


Help the Poor

Proverbs 19:17

“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” (KJV).

Help the Poor:

The first thing we see here is that God wants us to help the poor. Jesus said, “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good.” (Mark 14:7). But who are the poor, and what does it mean to help the poor?

In his book, The Power of Generosity, Dave Toycen (President of World Vision Canada) writes: “Living in the twenty-first century offers tremendous opportunities to those who have, but for the three billion people of the world living on less than two dollars a day it’s a crushing existence of grinding poverty, despair, and unremitting daily challenges.”

In the Western World (those of you reading in Canada, the United States, England, etc), none of us think that we’re rich, but the truth is, we are. If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world. That’s a sobering thought, isn’t it? I have been on several missions trips to countries like Mexico and Costa Rica, and I can testify to the fact that we really do have it good.

To those of you reading this blog post today: We are the rich, and God has called us to help the poor. What does that look like? It could be as simple as giving money to a family that you know that is struggling financially, taking a homeless person for lunch, or giving money to mission works in third world countries.

Lend to the Lord and He Will Repay:

The Lord gives us a wonderful promise in this Proverb. When we give to the poor, we are actually lending to the Lord! This was echoed by Jesus in Matthew 25:34-40:

“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me… inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” 

When we help the poor, we are lending to the Lord, and when we lend to the Lord, He will repay us. We will reap what we sow. When we care for those that God cares about, He takes care of our needs, too. So trust Him today, and look for ways to help the poor around you. Amen!

Lord, we have so much, but we are often selfish and unthankful people. Open our eyes to the poor and needy around us, so we can help them with your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.


It’s Black and White

Proverbs 19:16

“He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.”

Black

When we boil some things down to the basics we find that there are, in the bottom of every pot, little things called “black and whites.” Believe it or not, even though we live in a world of fifty shades of gray, blacks and whites are always among us.

It is not easy to label all the “blacks.” Nevertheless, some of the blacks have horrible consequences. When a man chooses not to keep the commandments of God he runs the real risk losing everything, including his life.

When will men and women ever learn that choosing to “despise” God’s way is not only selfish, but shows how messed up our priorities and preferences must be. How crazy is it that men will purchase destruction with their own rebellion?

Black and White

A wise man understands that there is a great price to pay when he breaks God’s commandments. The wise man keeps the Word of God because he knows his soul is more valuable than any temporary pleasures.

IMG_4120It is not always easy to tell between black and white, but God gave us his Word – in black and white. On those pages we can read what leads to life. We are warned of the things that lead to death. Yet, the fools of the world often choose to blur the letters on the page, smudging the ink until the page is gray and anything goes.

Dear God, we may not always keep your commandments, but we repent and ask for help to do what is right and holy. Even though we may fail at times, give us a heart with a desire to keep your Word, not despise it.


Good Gifts

Proverbs 19:14

“House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

Gifts from our fathers

Everyone either looks forward to or dreams of suddenly finding out they are part of some inheritance.

It usually requires someone dying (though, the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) shows it is not always necessary), but an inheritance usually comes in the form of a house or money.

There are other forms of inheritance.

The downside is that we can inherit genetic and behavioral qualities, but we may also inherit good qualities.

My parents instilled in me a strong work ethic and commitment to loved ones, and that passed over into my Christian walk, as well. They were only strengthened by the working of the Holy Spirit.

Love and dedication are a great gift to receive from your father (and mother!)

A gift from our Father

No matter what our parents teach us, there is only one way to get a greater gift.

God has blessed me with the most perfect wife, beyond even what I ever dreamed.

This is amazing, because, while we have great families, we come from histories of alcohol abuse and emotional issues. Both of us could have easily followed in so many footsteps of our genetic predecessors for generations back: eating disorders, substance abuse, emotional issues, unwise financial/life decisions, and so one.

Instead, God has helped us both overcome in so many ways (and still helps us to this day), and we are only able to have the strong marriage we have because of His help.

That is the real gift of God: a prudent spouse is one who knows the need for Christ and submits to His leadership. A prudent spouse helps the other out of love for each other and Christ.

Gracious God, thank You for helping us overcome this world. Help us to be good stewards of what You have given us and help us to understand they are gifts from You. For those of us gifted with wise and prudent spouses, give us the wisdom and passion to appreciate and be a helper to our spouses to the glory of Your name!


Subject to the King

Proverbs 19:12 

The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favor is as dew upon the grass.

Of Earthly Kings and Princes

I was intrigued to see a video posted on Facebook in which Prince Charles spoke very favorably of the church in the UK. He was referring to a particular event called The BigChurchDayOut, but the positive manner in which he described the church was most encouraging. Prince Charles is not yet King Charles, but he is next in line to the British throne, and his favor is definitely worth having. In fact, Prince Charles has bestowed his favor on many through his involvement with various charities through The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation.

While Prince Charles is unlikely to display wrath, many of his ancestors were skilled in anger. Before the monarchy became constitutional, the Kings and Queens of England were the most powerful individuals in the land, and their subjects were wise to avoid their wrath. Anger the king and you might up in The Tower of London, facing torture and execution. Not even the rich and famous were safe. It seems amazing that the great explorer Sir Walter Raleigh met his end not during some dangerous expedition, but at the blade of the executioner’s axe.

King of Kings

Psalm 47:7 states: ‘For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise’ while in Revelation 19:16 God is referred to as the ‘King of kings and Lord of lords.’ God is King above all kings, but unlike other kings He does not demand our allegiance. The King of kings gives us a choice. He doesn’t threaten us with His wrath, but instead promises favor that is like dew on the grass, or icing on the cake (to bring this proverb up to date). But while God’s wrath may not fall on us now if we turn our backs on Him, there will be a day when all humanity will be required to stand before the King (Matthew 25:31-46).


She’s a Good Thing!

Proverbs 18:22

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.”

(originally posted in 2013)

What She Says

It’s a bad one for you to have, honey, unless you’re going into dreamland.” That’s what my wife said when I showed her the text about which I was going to write. In other words, my wife, Valerie, does not think of herself as a “good thing.” She does not see that the Lord showed me favor; she thinks of herself more like a burden.

For the last several years my wife’s health has been going downhill. No longer can she do many of the things she used to do. She is constantly battling pain – pain that won’t even allow me to hug her tightly, flirtatiously squeeze her thigh, or even rub her neck. The pain restricts her, limits her, and robs her of the many things of which she was capable just a few years ago. She still has her mind, but even that, because of the distraction of pain, can be affected.

Not long ago, when Valerie was suffering through a pretty bad day, between sobbing she cried, “Why would you even want to stay with me? I’m worthless. I’m a bad wife. I’m a bad mother. All I’m doing is holding you back. Surely you can’t love me; it’s just that you don’t want to break a promise.

What I Say

Well, I do love Valerie. She is my Sunshine. She’s my Baby Honey. She is my “good thing.” And I truly believe that the Lord blessed me more than I express, except maybe through the words of a song I wrote for our anniversary a few years ago…

You don’t have to be everything I ever wanted / You don’t have to be a beauty queen to catch my eye / I don’t really need another Eve to walk beside me / I’ll survive, I’ll be alright with second best / That’s a lie!

You don’t have to make every day a day worth living / You don’t have to be the brightest star up in the sky / I don’t really need to be complete, so don’t you worry / You could stay, or you could go…I’d be all right / Oh, that’s a LIE!

Chorus:

I need you…I need you / Nothing less would ever do / You were made for me; it’s plain to see / By God’s design we were meant to be / And I won’t settle for less – I need you.

I Need You” Copyright © 2007 Anthony C. Baker, BMI

What He Says

“The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD.” – Proverbs 18:22 NLT

“Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.” – Ecclesiastes 9:9 NLT

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” – Proverbs 31:10 KJV


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Greasing the Skids

Proverbs 18:16

“A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.”

Wise Investing

You have seen it done in the movies, and maybe in real life. A man walks in to a nice restaurant and finds that no tables are available, but when he pulls out a $50 bill all of a sudden a place is found. That is more like bribery, not what Solomon is talking about here.

What Solomon is telling us in this verse is that gifts can be a wise investment – investments that can offer great returns in the form of privilege and audience. And it’s not about bribery but common decency, respect, manners, and wisdom.

Playing Smart

There is nothing wrong or un-biblical about playing smart. In many ways life is a game, and the ones who play by the rules are more likely to come out ahead in the end. It doesn’t always work out, but acting with intentional respect can have a road-paving effect on one’s life and career.

Essentially, if you want to be included in certain circles or have audiences before “great men,” being selfish, stingy, and arrogant is not a good first step in the right direction. One can “grease the skids” with a little gift and a nice card. Even a kind deed done on one’s behalf is a gift that may prove beneficial in the future. Consider the following story…

Mordecai’s Good Deed

“During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai.” – Esther 2:21-22 NIV

Later…

“That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked. “Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.” – Esther 6:1-3 NIV

Mordecai’s gift of honesty and bravery was rewarded when the time was right. Room was made for him as he was brought before great men.

Key to Giving

But there is one very important thing to remember: when you do give gifts, don’t expect anything in return. A bribe is not a gift. A true gift is not a bribe.


Haughty or Humble?

Proverbs  18:12

12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.

Haughty and in Hot Water

In the last several years there have been many high-profile stories out of politics. Granted, that sentence could have been written at any time in modern history.

What I am speaking of, specifically, are politicians who thought they were above reproach. Most called themselves committed Christians. Many of these were caught with prostitutes, girlfriends (other than their wives, of course), or sharing pictures (of their own body parts or other women/men).

They were caught for the very reason they thought they could get away with it: they thought too highly of themselves. Most these men lost their positions and even careers over these scandals. Most people could care less about these men today.

Humble and Honored

Now look at the other side.

Mother Teresa never held a public office. In fact, she spent the majority of her time with sick, injured, and societal rejects. She never considered anyone beneath her or less important. She put most people ahead of herself.

When she died in 1997, many millions of people mourned and remembered her. Many people called for her immediate beatification by the Catholic Church. She is still remembered well by over a billion people.

You and Me

Our pride can only lead to problems in our life. If left to continue unabated, our pride will lead to our separation from God after this life.

If we humble ourselves, confess our sinfulness and need for Jesus Christ, God is the One who will honor us.

every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

Faithful Father, teach us true humility. Help us to seek You above ourselves.


Raising Them Right

Proverbs 17:6
Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.”

Being a Parent

One of the things that is discussed regularly in the men’s group attend is how fathers and sons do not talk to each other.

There are some men with sons have stopped talking to them. There are some men whose father’s barely acknowledge them.

The biggest issue is communication, obviously, though the reasons in each individual circumstance is different. The biggest issue always seemed to stem from how good of a parenting job was done.

Regardless of how well parents parented, sometimes it is the events later in life that lead to closeness or division.

Becoming “Grandpa” (or “Grandma”!)

A surefire way to tell if you have made it as a parent – whether as raising your children or after they have grown; whether you were a rambunctious child or a sweet and innocent child who now has children of your own – is the Grandparent Test.

One of the men in my group longs to meet his grandchildren from his estranged son. This is a godly man, so no one can understand why his son will not allow him to meet his grandchildren.

Yet, here is a family who shows the parents are loved by their children, even if only a little bit: the proud children spend much time taking their children to grandma and grandpa’s home (or “Nana and Papa” or “Nani and Papi” or whatever!).

The grandparents want to show off their grandchildren to anyone who will listen. The parents of those children eagerly want them to!

The Christian

How do you live your life in Christ?

Do you help win others to the Lord, or do you do your own thing?

If you only do your own thing, you are like the parent who avoids their children and the child who avoids their Father.

If you help win others to the Lord and train them in the ways of godly living, you are like the parents who are invested in their children’s lives and can not wait to show them to your Father in Heaven!

Heavenly Father, help us to love our families with Your love. Help us to realize that the Church is our family, and You are our Father. Help us to love all people in a way that Our love is overflowing. Please, bless our families.


Don’t Cover the Gray

Proverbs 16:31

“The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” 

“You’re Worth It”

Do you remember the old hair-coloring commercials that tried to convince us that coloring one’s hair was worth the money and time, because, after all, “you’re worth it”?

Another advertisement for hair color contained a jingle which went, “I’m gonna wash that grey right out of my hair” (Clairol). What we the purpose of all this nonsense? The purpose was to appear younger.

Well, believe it or not, the longer one lives, the more wisdom he or she obtains and grey hair should be the emblem of their success. Where that crown! You’re worth it!

The Right Head

The “hoary head” is another way of saying the head that has white or grey hair. Solomon is saying that he who is blessed with that hair is blessed with a crown of glory, so long as he is in the “way of righteousness.” Without righteousness and godly wisdom, all that grey hair just means you’re old.

My Gray

I never thought I would live long enough for this verse to mean anything to me, but here I am, 48, with a silvery-gray goatee that constantly battles the razor that shaves my head. Some have asked, “Why don’t you color your facial hair?” My response is simple: I don’t want to look immature.

I don’t know about you, but I have battled with looking young all my life. For most that would be a blessing worth millions, but not for a preacher. I don’t want to look like a 25-year-old hipster who goes through a gallon of hair product a month to look good on T.V. I don’t want to look like the wavy-blond PhD who managed to get famous for writing 50 pages in 50 books, and probably still sleeps with a teddy bear.

I have earned my “hoary head”!  I wan’t to look like the 48-year-old pastor who has faced giants, slain dragons, and changed diapers – all while studying for Sunday morning. Gray is my medal of honor.

Respect Them

Modern culture is quick to throw out the elderly with the trash, and that’s a crying shame. Paul told Timothy (1 Timothy 5:1-2) to treat the older men as fathers, and the older women as mothers. Paul even gave instruction to both Timothy and Titus to seek out the elderly and put their wisdom to use training the younger generations.

When I was young, our teacher made us all stand up in our classroom out of respect for a visiting adult. When a parent or visitor came through the door of our classroom we would stand at attention without even thinking. We were constantly reminded of Leviticus 19:32, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.

 You keep your brown and black – my crown is staying gray.