Category Archives: Temptation

An Excellent Prayer

Proverbs 30:7-9 

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. 
“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you 
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (NIV)

Matthew Henry noted the similarity between these verses and the Lord’s Prayer in respect of ‘lead us not into temptation’ (Matthew 6:13) and ‘give us today our daily bread’ (Matthew 6:11). While it is easy to see that giving into temptation is going to damage our relationship with God (and possibly family, friends, colleagues, etc.) the problems associated with wealth are less visible, especially to the wealthy. When a rich young man wanted to follow Jesus he was instructed to sell all that he had and give what he raised through his high class garage sale to the poor. The rich young man couldn’t part with his money and lifestyle. Consequently he walked away from Jesus and the greatest opportunity he had ever been given.

The whole wealth thing troubles me. I have never aspired to be a wealthy man, and there have been times when I have struggled financially. There have also been times when I have not struggled. But if I look back on my life so far I could honestly say that without having prayed that God give me neither poverty nor riches, that is exactly what He has done. There have been exceptionally good times, and there have been exceptionally difficult times, but I have never gone hungry like many others in this world, or been in a position where I have had to consider stealing just to survive. I’m not sure how I would react if it was the only way to feed my family. One thing I do know is that this proverb is an excellent prayer, so good that Jesus included its words in the prayer He gave His followers:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13 NIV)

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Are You Blind?

Proverbs 28:22

“He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.”

Are You Blind?

The first thing that came to mind when I read this proverb was the term “get rich schemes.” But, after a few moments of pondering, a question which I have heard asked many times popped into my head: “Are you blind?”

If you have ever driven in a large, metropolitan city, especially one like New York, then I’m sure you have probably heard someone yell out a colloquial version of, “Hey buddy, ya’ blind!?” Maybe you were asked that question when you turned in front of a taxi. Or, maybe you have asked your child that question after being whacked in the head with a kitchen cabinet door. “Sweetie! Are you blind? Didn’t you see me standing here?”

Bad Vision

Maybe the one who turned in front of the taxi driver had a glass eye? Maybe the child that trips over stuff in the floor needs glasses? Sometimes people have accidents because they are not able to see clearly, like their eyes aren’t working properly.

In the same way, Solomon suggests that the one who rushes to get rich must have a bad (evil) eye. It’s not that his eye is intentionally trying to cause him harm; it must be handicapped. Why else would any sane, logical person with any common sense make haste towards poverty? Could it be the result of a character flaw? Poor instruction? Bad advice? Or, could it be that the one hastening to get rich lacks the ability to see down the road?

Get an Eye Exam

lensesThere is evidently something wrong with one’s vision if he thinks “get rich schemes” are the way to go. Yet, turn on the television, especially late at night (when smart people should be asleep), and you will find all kinds of infomercials promoting some new scheme that promises wealth with little or no effort. And what is one of the things the hosts of the commercials say? “Act now!Hurry, before this opportunity passes you by! This is a limited-time offer!”

What the get-rich-quick-er has a hard time seeing is the road ahead. He cannot see the turns in the road, the holes in the pavement, and brick wall of poverty which will certainly end his journey.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” – Matthew 6:22-23 ESV

So, before you rush to riches, make sure you get an “eye” exam.


Somebody’s Watching

The following post was first published in the current order after being missed during the original posts on the fifth chapter. I believe God knew someone needed it at the time it was published, and I believe He will use it to speak to someone today. 

Proverbs 5:21-33

“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” 

Reality TV

Reality television has taken over the airwaves. Nearly every one of the fourteen billion channels have at least one reality show, and there are even whole networks devoted to them. As I read the proverb for today, I couldn’t help thinking of a particular one involving security cameras.

It seems that criminals never learn. Either that, or they never watch reality TV. Do they not know that when they steal gasoline, rob a bank, or mug a toddler at the candy store, someone is watching? Have they never looked up? Have they never noticed that electronic eye mounted in a corner above them?

Never Looking Up

The same question might be asked of us with regards to sin. When will we ever learn that Someone is watching us? When will we look up? When will we notice the “eyes of the Lord?”

Addressing the issue of adultery, Solomon warns his sons that sin is not done in secret. No matter how dark the room, or secluded the hotel, “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth” (2 Chronicles 16:9a). Even though one’s husband or wife may not know, God does.

Why doesn’t the sinner look up? Too often he suffers from a form of tunnel vision. He is so focused on the temptation that he becomes blind to everything else, including that heavenly security camera above.

Bound by Sin. 

It may seem crazy that a criminal would forget cameras are watching his every move; but some the excuses they give, once caught, are equally insane. Some will literally watch video of themselves committing a crime, then deny it. They say, “That wasn’t me!”

In one program called “Bait Car,” police rig an automobile with hidden cameras. They also wire the care so that it can be remotely shut down and locked. When criminals steal the car, not only do they get filmed, but they get trapped.

Sin has a nasty habit of not letting go. The one who says “Just this once” usually gets bound by his actions. Once the fun is over, there is always a price to pay. Unfortunately for the wicked, most “die without instruction.”

Don’t Get Trapped

The Apostle Paul could have been speaking of the car thief or the adulterer in 1 Corinthians 3:19. The wisdom of the world leads the wicked to think he can get away with sin, but God “traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness” (NLT).

Yet, for those who have sinned – for those who have forgotten to “look up” – Jesus offers you freedom from the chains of sin. When one “sees Jesus” (John 12:21), he will not only “turn from his wicked ways,” but he will find One who can break the “cords of sin.”

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” –  Luke 4:18 KJV


Kiss Me Kill Me

Proverbs 27:6

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses.

It Makes Sense

This is one of those proverbs we can look at and agree with. We all know it makes sense. It is much better to have friends who will be honest with us even when it hurts, then friends who will just pamper and flatter us even when we are clearly in the wrong.

The trouble is something making sense doesn’t guarantee we will follow the advice. In this case there are multiple reasons why we ignore this advice, our society is much more comfortable with flattery, even when it’s false, than truth; it can be hard to receive truth from a friend; we can find it difficult to speak truthfully to our friends in case they decide to ditch us.

First Things Firsts

To see more meaningful relationships we need to be ready to be examples. We need to be people who are good at taking criticism, and also brave enough to give it. Many people misread the plank in the eye parable. They use the excuse that as they will never be perfect, and therefore always have impaired vision, they cannot challenge other’s behaviour. I have even heard parents say that they cannot challenge their wayward ward because they were just as bad when they were children. But we only need to read to the end of the parable to see Jesus intention –

Matthew 7:5 (emphasis mine) ‘You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’ 

We are to be wounded and we are to wound. And all the better our friendships shall be for it.


How Are Your Walls?

Proverbs 25:28

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

City Walls

Most cities today have no walls; they are usually protected from invaders in other ways. But back in the days of Solomon it was common to see a city with large walls built around it for defense. Without those tall, stone walls, much like what we would imagine circling a castle, a city would be completely vulnerable to attack.

English: Building the Wall of Jerusalem; as in...

In the Old Testament we can read of a man named Nehemiah who realized the importance of city walls. When one of his brothers came to visit, he asked how things were going in Jerusalem. That’s when he found out the bad news.

“They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” – Nehemiah 1:3-4 NLT

Later, Nehemiah went before King Artaxerxes, the kink in whose court he served, to ask permission to rebuild the wall. His request was graciously accepted, and the king even provided the materials needed for the job. However, none of this would have happened had Nehemiah not realized the humiliating and dangerous predicament Jerusalem was in. They needed walls.

Walls of Discipline

Solomon knew what he was talking about when he wrote this proverb, for he knew about human desire. But, as a king, he also knew about city walls and the need for defense. He recognized the similarity between a defenseless city and the undisciplined, careless soul.

A person who has no control over his desires is like a city that parties away the night without any clue that an invasion is imminent.

He with no rule over his own spirit is like a city full of treasures ready to be plundered.

The one with no self-control invites destruction.

Maybe it is time we share the burden of Nehemiah and repair the broken down walls in our own lives. 


Padded Résumés

Proverbs 25:14

“Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.”

Résumés

There are a few things I hate to do in life, such as flossing (but I do it, anyway), hanging blinds, changing diapers, and moving. I also hate writing résumés – about as much as I despise licking a cheese grater.

Résumés (also spelled resumes, but looks like it would sound like re-zooms) are so difficult because of the desire to boast. For those of us who have less to boast about, filling out a résumé can be even more challenging. There is always the temptation to “pad” the résumé with skills not quite developed, like saying you’re a “lion tamer” when all you’ve tamed is your pet cat.

Expectations

The problem with a padded résumé is that while it may get you in the door, it won’t guarantee you can do the job for which you are hired. When employers hire people based on the skills they are supposed to have, the expectation is that the employees use their skills, or “gifts,” when called upon.

Sadly, many people have been let go from high-paying, high-pressure jobs when their “boasting…of a false gift” became evident. Examples include Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson, RadioShack CEO Dave Edmondson, and Notre Dame football coach George O’Leary.

No Water

Even more tragic than being found out is the negative effect lying about one’s abilities can have on others. When Solomon compares boasting about a false gift to clouds without rain, we might imagine thirsty people, or hungry people looking at withering crops. How cruel it would be to promise them water but never deliver!

Don’t be a cloud without water. Don’t boast about gifts and abilities you don’t have. Be the best you can be and live up to the expectations others rightfully have of you.


Sleeping In the Pit

Pro 22:14
“The mouth of strange women [is] a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.”

Chinhoyi Caves

Not long ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. There I got to preach in several churches and see many come to know Jesus Christ as Savior! Hallelujah!

But I did a little sight-seeing, too!

Walking down to the Sleeping Pool

Walking down to the Sleeping Pool

Months before I went to Zimbabwe (Africa) I did a little research. What I found out was that there was a particular cave in Chinhoyi which was known for it’s beautiful, naturally-lit blue (318 feet deep) pool at the bottom – the “Sleeping Pool.”

The Sleeping Pool could be accessed by one of two ways; either walk down a bunch of steps through a tunnel in the ground, or be thrown to one’s death from the top, just like what happened to many people hundreds of years ago.

We chose to walk down the steps.

The Mouth

The mouth of the Chinhoyi cave is a huge opening in the ground. It was through this opening that the unfortunate enemies of some ancient warlords would be thrown … and “sleep” forever.

The “mouth” of a strange woman is a deadly pit, also. And as beautiful as it may seem, the fall to the bottom of this pit is just as deadly as the one in Zimbabwe. It is into this alluring pit that God will allow the fool – the one who despises wisdom – to be cast.

The Pit

Solomon describes the mouth of a strange woman as a deep pit. Why is that? Could it be because there is always this sense of intrigue and danger that draws men to take risks? They flirt with what they know could kill them as they peer over the edge, seeing just how far they can go. Men will flirt with sin, too.

image

The pits of adultery and illicit love are deep, dark, and deadly; few men survive the fall. But would a man listen to Wisdom, he would flee far from the edge. It’s to the fool that God says, “You chose your pit, now fall into it.”

Sorta gives new meaning to “sleeping around,” doesn’t it?

 

*For additional info on the caves, click HERE and HERE.