Category Archives: Truth

Worthless Toys

Proverbs 11:7-8

“When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth. The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.”

Whoever dies with the most toys wins.

Have you ever heard that phrase? That is exactly what this verse is speaking about.

There are many people who truly believe (or at least really wish) that with more money, influence, and stuff they might be able to prolong life or even cheat death.

Quite frankly, that will never happen. In this world, people die, and there is no escape by our meager means.

It does not matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.

There are many religions in the world that promise peace, life, or freedom.

In our Western culture, one of the current themes is that sincerity in the belief is what really sets you free.

Quite frankly, that is hogwash. You can sincerely believe your hand is indestructible, but that angry dog you just tried to pet does not care.

God is dead.

This is been a common theme since Time Magazine did an article in 1966, but starting earlier. In fact, one reason many atheists enjoy the theory of evolution is that ultimately God is not necessary if there is enough time and random circumstances.

Quite frankly, this is dangerously wrong. Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics and the fact that our Universe does indeed have a beginning prove at the very least that something outside of our Universe caused everything to be.

The Truth

There is a God. This God created everything, including humans. Humans messed up … royally. Therefore, God came to Earth as a man, Jesus of Nazareth. In His righteousness, He took the penalty humans deserved. Now, those who believe in this truth are delivered out of eternal trouble into eternal peace and life with God.

Those who refuse to believe or think they know better are still under the penalty.

Lord Jesus, thank You for taking our penalty. Thank You for life. Use our lives to save as many more of those who are perishing as possible. Teach us to love them as You love us all.


Watching the Scales

Proverbs 11:1

“A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.”

True Weight

In the attempt to stay a lean, mean, fighting machine (oh, get real), I have found myself watching the numbers when I weigh myself. As a matter of fact, there is a small calendar in our bathroom where I have recorded the numbers over about three months.

One day I was so excited that I had seemingly lost several pounds. I told my wife, “See, I am losing weight!” Then, later that day, I went to the doctor’s office for a regular checkup. It was there that my inflated ego became a lead balloon, for the official scales told a different story.

What I had thought was my weight when I stood on the cheap scales at home did not square with the expensive, worthless-to-argue-with scales at the doctor’s office. Instead of losing weight, I had gained weight. The scales at home lied!

Balances and Ducks

In order to really understand this proverb, we must understand what is meant by a “false balance.” As you can see by the illustration, things used to be weighed by placing one object on one side of a balance, and then a standard weight on the other.

A humorous example of false weights and false scales can be found in a scene from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In that scene a woman is accused of being a witch, so “logically” they decide that since wood burns the same as witches, and wood also floats, then something besides wood must be put in a scale to determine if the woman was actually a witch. They choose a duck, because ducks float in water like wood. Yeah, it’s crazy.

Once they take the accused witch to the scales, they place a duck on the opposite side. When they remove the blocks underneath, guess what? The scales did not move. Hmmm.

False Balances

But what God hates is a false balance. In other words, God hates scales that have been tampered with in order for a merchant (or a witch burner) to make a profit. God hates scales that do not tell the truth, but lead others to believe they do. God loves the truth, even if the scales tell us something we don’t want to admit.

In the book of Daniel we read of Belshazzar of Babylon seeing a message written by God on a wall. Among other things it said, “TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.“(Daniel 5:27). In Belshazzar’s mind his bathroom scale was just fine. But according to God’s scale, he was way, way off.

This proverb is primarily pointed at those who lie to make a profit. It is about those who tamper with what is a “true” weight to perpetuate a falsehood. In other words, hypocrisy.

But from a different perspective, we should remember that how we think of ourselves needs to measure up with God’s standard. The world’s scales are always a little unbalanced.


Lying Lips

Proverbs 10:18

“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.”

In this proverb of Solomon (10:1), he joins together two actions related to the tongue which at first blush appear to be opposites, and yet paradoxically, the two actions produce the same outcome!  Let’s look more closely.

A PARADOX

In the first instance, he draws to our attention the one who “hideth hatred with lying lips.”  In other words, his lips are moving, but the words pouring forth from his mouth conceal the hatred and loathing in the heart.

Perhaps you’ve caught yourself exchanging Monday-morning pleasantries with a co-worker, chatting harmlessly about the activities of the recent weekend… on the outside you present the image of the nicest guy in the office, but on the inside, you hate the co-worker’s guts!  You are speaking, but your speech is not consistent with your heart.

In the second instance, he speaks of a different sort of person entirely – one whose mouth spews venomous slander.  To return to the example of Monday morning in the office, this is the co-worker who verbally “runs down” everyone and everything, especially attacking the actions and motivations of others, casting others into a negative light.

The polite person with the hateful heart, and the hateful person gushing poisonous slander – they’re entirely different, right?  No, says Solomon, they are surprisingly similar.  Both are morally deficient – fools, in fact.

THE POINT OF THE PROVERB

Listen up, because this is key.  The “jab” of this proverb lies in the first half.  It speaks to those of us who have been trained to “be polite,” when our outer friendliness is a mask of hypocrisy.  Jesus reserves his harshest condemnation for people who pretend to be something on the outside, but have murder within (and yes, according to Jesus, hatred is the moral equivalent of murder – Matthew 5:21-22).  It is so easy to identify – and condemn – the slanderer.

As a pastor, I can say without question that slander is one of the most destructive sins that can strike a congregation.  But at least with the slanderer, you know what you’ve got. How much more deceptive, subtle, and evil is the Pharisaic hypocrisy of hiding hatred with lying lips.

SIMPLICITY OF SPEECH

The proverb calls us to simplicity of speech.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  As the Master said, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 6:37).  And no, that’s not a free pass to tell people off!  As Jesus-Followers, we “speak the truth in love” to one another (Ephesians 4:15).

Father God, grant us simplicity of speech coming from hearts full of the love of Christ.  Forgive us our sins of the tongue, we ask, for the sake of Thy dear Son, Christ our Lord, in whose Name we pray:  Amen. 


The Interpreter

Proverbs 8:12

“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.”

Hand-in-Hand

We cannot escape that wisdom is always paired with something else, whether it be called understanding, knowledge, discretion, or prudence.

Wisdom does not work unless it is put into practice. What does wisdom look like in practice?

It is not getting ahead of yourself, rather knowing your limitations.

It is not leaping before you look, rather knowing the right path … unless God has called you to step forward in faith.

It is not saying whatever is on your mind, rather knowing the time and place and how to speak your mind.

Witty Inventions/Discretion

Other translations also say “I possess knowledge and discretion.” Like James said, “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” (James 3:2) I still work on knowing when to share what I have learned, but the real task has been learning when it is okay to offend and when it is just offensive to speak. Clearly, I am not yet perfect!

I personally like the phrase “find out knowledge of witty inventions.” I like to turn a phrase and reveal hidden meanings.

For example, the Christmas carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is one of my favorites, because it shares the gospel and has a great tune.

However, two years ago I learned the original meanings of most of the words expressed in the title and first line of the song. The title in modern English would actually be “God Keep You Strong, Great Men”.

Another example are political elections. Politicians on every side attempt to convince you to vote for them, and they most often use facts and data in ways outside of their original context. It takes discernment to find the truth in their inventive interpretations. It also takes discernment to be that politician and properly use facts and data.

Wisdom helps us discover truth and understanding in places we might not otherwise.

Wisdom can show us how interpret what is being said and done, and wisdom can show us how to present ourselves in word and deed.

Finding True Wisdom

Prudence and knowledge should lead us to realize that, as we are, we are unable to control ourselves, in word, deed or thought.

Wisdom should then lead us to realize that God, as revealed through Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit, is the only way to find control and freedom.

Our Wisdom and Truth, reveal Yourself to us ever more. Help us to see past the lower and false wisdom of this world and see Your truth. Teach us understanding, discretion, and prudence. Make us more like You!


Write It Down

Proverbs 7:1-3

“My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.”

iProverbs?

If gadgets had been around in Solomon’s day perhaps the book of Proverbs would have been marketed as an application that could be installed on a computer or smartphone, like an application that could flash up important reminders throughout the day, or even wake its owner with a Proverb for the day. You could argue that Proverbial Thought goes some way to meeting the idea of an electronic version of Proverbs.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) Solomon had no other choice but to write it all down. The problem with this rather old-fashioned method is the need to emphasize certain teachings to ensure that the message is heeded and remembered.

Graphic Reminders

Proverbs 7 contains some rather graphic reminders about immorality, apparently directed at young men but equally applicable to men and women of any age. The first three verses provide instructions on how to use the wisdom contained within the verses that follow. The real danger is that you might not like what you read in Proverbs 7, or you may think that Proverbs 7 does not apply to you. It does! Danger is all around and we need to be sure that we recognize dangerous situations, and then do our best to avoid them.

Solomon is not making suggestions that we may choose to ignore if we so wish. He makes it very clear that these are commands or orders that are to be followed. While society may challenge such rules, the wisdom expressed in Proverbs is essential for society to function as it should. These are words of life (verse 2). Immorality does not enhance life, but brings pain, hurt, self-loathing. Look back in history at how immorality triggered the downfall of ancient civilizations. Why should ours be any different?

Nothing has changed since Proverbs 7 was written. Take these words, these instructions for life, and write them deep within your heart as Solomon intended. Please do not be offended at the posts that follow as they seek to apply ancient truths to a modern world where they are still relevant and vitally important.


Bound to Our Hearts

Proverbs 6:21-22 

“Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.”

In the Word

Yesterday, Jason spoke to the heart of the matter, that be in the Word of God.

This comes from going to church every Sunday (or Saturday … or any other day of the week you may find yourself attending), certainly, but there is so much more.

You cannot “Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck” unless you are continually reading, hearing, and thinking about the Word. This does not mean “always” or “every moment of every day.”

In fact, it could cause you to lose your job and maybe even relationships if this is all you did all the time.

In fact, some people are unable to read and/or listen daily to the Bible or sermons or other teachings due to work, ministry, persecution, and incarceration.

This is when we must think about (meditate, if you will, as meditation means “focused thinking”) God and His Word throughout the day. This is why it is okay to wear necklaces or bracelets with those little reminders (such as crosses or doves). This can be taking “tie them about thy neck” very literally!

Going and Doing

“When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.”

Knowing what the Bible says, what our Lord says, will guide our every decision.

Knowing the promises of God can help us rest at night, and we are more open to dreams the Lord may send our way!

Knowing we have a Heavenly Father guiding our every step, we can get out of bed and face the day with courage.

Even if we have times it feels like all of that is far off or not true for us, digging into the Bible and/or simply conversing with God (praying) can lift you up (by the Holy Spirit). In those times, we may even hear (most likely internally rather than audibly) God speak to us. He wants to speak with you.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the written Word, thank You for Your Living Word, and thank You for Your promises. Please give us a steadfast spirit to seek out Your Word, to study and truly know it. Fill us with Your Spirit and remind us of Your promises.


Stay On Track

Proverbs 4:27

“Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”

Pastor James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago and Walk in the Word Ministries uses a theme song for his radio broadcasts. The lyrics are:

To the left or the right, o-o-oh, I will not go.
To the left or the right, o-o-oh, I will not go, I will not go.
Walk, walk in the word. Walk in the word.
Walk, walk in the word.
This is the way!

As David mentioned yesterday, we need to focus on the path before us. To turn to the left or the right from the path we have been shown is to step into the ways of unrighteousness, wickedness, and evil. Fortunately, Solomon continues his advice by instructing us to “remove thy foot from evil.”

GET BACK ON TRACK!

Jesus warned us,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14 NIV

What is the most sure way of seeing, staying on, and getting back to the path of righteousness?

As James MacDonald’s ministry says, “Walk in the Word.” We need to read God’s word, know it, and live it.

This combined with daily prayer and meeting with other Christians strengthens our understanding and resolve to stay on the path.

Do not turn from God and His path. Stay focused on our Lord.

Lord Jesus, strengthen our resolve to not stray off the path. Broaden our understanding of Your will for our lives. Give us Your wisdom and the desire to stay on the path of righteousness.