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Mercy and Fear

Proverbs 16:6

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”
“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” (NKJV)

“He Could Break Me”

When I was young I had a healthy fear of my father. Even when I was a teenager, he was half again my size and could break me in two. The last thing I would have ever wanted was for my dad to strike me in anger, or worse, as an enemy. Thankfully, he loved me, especially when he “spared not the rod.”

Yes, my dad knew how to discipline in the old-fashioned way. He did not believe in “time outs.” Never once did he remind me to “make right choices.” If I made a wrong choice I found out about it real quick.

daddyBut the thing that I was most afraid of was not being punished by my dad for doing something stupid, it was breaking his heart. The worst punishment I could ever receive was to see a disappointed look in his eyes. I wanted him to be proud of me. I was more afraid of seeing a tear than getting whacked in the rear.

You see, my dad was a godly man…a simple man…a humble man…a very hard-working man. He worked multiple jobs, once even giving me his pay so that I could have work. He never raised his voice, but he could preach with authority. He was a true pastor, a faithful husband, and a friend to all. He did a lot for me that I will never know.

Proper Motivation

In today’s proverb Solomon speaks of mercy and forgiveness, but then he ends with “fear” being the motivation for correct behavior. What should be noted is that “fear” isn’t the kind of emotion that causes one to run and hide, but it is a profound sense of respect.

When we think of God, we should remember how merciful he has been to us. We should contemplate his goodness and grace. We should remember that He did not have to forgive us, but would have been completely justified to cast us into a burning hell forever, had it not been for Christ. When we remember these things we should fear and “depart from evil.”

But why should we depart from evil? Is it because of a fear that He will destroy us? No, for we are forgiven, if we have been covered in the righteousness of Jesus. We should have a profound respect for what God has done for us, not to us, and that fear should cause us to depart from evil.


Hand-in-Hand Pride

Proverbs 16:5

“Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.”

We Are the World

How many of you were even alive when Michael Jackson came out with a song to unite the world in a spirit of giving? “We are the world…we are the children…we are the one’s who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving…” It was 1985, the year I graduated high school.

I still remember the sight of just about every big-time musical artist of the day taking turns, each sing a measure or two, and all swaying together for a cause. What was the cause? Hunger in Africa. They wanted to feed the starving.

Sadly, even though the recording sold over 20 million copies, hunger continues to this day. They barely made a dent on the problem, but they felt good trying.

They could be proud.

Pride Abhorred

If you don’t already know, God hates pride (Prov. 6:17). Pride is the attitude that sets someone apart as better than his creator. It is the opposite of humility, and it is sin. It is the sin that tells God, “I don’t need you…I can do this myself!”

As a matter of fact, pride is a sin that demands recognition. It is not a sin that settles with obscurity; it must be seen and heard. Pride is the praise and worship chorus sung by humanity in the Church of Self. Is it any wonder the Lord hates it? Pride is idol worship.

Rights and Wrong

Pride leads the rebellious to demand his self-perceived rights. He demands of God what is pleasant, but refuses to bow a humble knee. He finds others to band together, join hand-in-hand, and sing “we are the world; You can do nothing to us!”

They even have “pride” parades.

Nevertheless, though they join hand-in-hand, hold conferences, gang up and flood the airwaves, or even cry with one loud voice, “There is no God!“; the wicked will be punished.

God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7).

 


Perception and Reality

Proverbs 16:2

“All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.”

The Way We See It

If I have heard it said once, I have heard it said a thousand times, “perception is reality.” And if I have puked once…

What is it with man’s twisted view of reality and truth? Where do we get the idea that reality is what we perceive it to be? Is truth really relative to our own perception of the way things are? Just because a person believes something to be true doesn’t make it true, only believed.

Have you ever argued with someone who is color-blind over the color of a tie? Have you ever tried to convince someone dying of thirst that it’s not really water, but a mirage? Have you ever tried to convince a 3-year-old that germs are real and that hands need to be washed before eating? Some people think they know what they see, but they don’t.

Clean Drunks

Several years ago I was unfortunate enough to transport a bunch of college kids to a party. It was unfortunate because long before some of them ever got on the school bus they had already been drinking.

The place they were going to was up a mountain. About 5 minutes into the trip, about the third or fourth curve, one girl decided to vomit on the window, down the inside wall, and between the seats. It was all liquid, all alcohol, and all nasty. A few minutes later she felt she was ready to go party some more, for, in her eyes, she was perfectly clean. The only problem was that we (everyone on the bus) could tell she was soaked…in other words, we weighed the “spirits.”

God Sees Everything

When it comes to self-perception, reality is what God sees. He not only sees the outside, but the heart is bare before Him. As the proverb says, a man may consider himself clean, which is his own perception of reality, but the Lord knows what’s really going on.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

It is foolish for men to try to justify their sinful, dirty actions before a holy God. It is foolish to depend on our own perception of what is right and wrong. Our eyes only want to see what makes us look good, not evil.

That is why we need God’s wisdom.

 


Can You Hear Me Now?

Proverbs 15:29

The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

220px-George_MullerHis name is one that many people may not know. It sounds like any other name and if it was said aloud, most would scratch their heads and wander who is this gentleman. His name was plain, but to a group of children that depended on him every day for their well-being, he was a saint. His name was George Muller.

George Muller was a christian evangelist and director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England. It is said that during his time as director, that more than 10,000 children were cared for and loved.

More importantly, George Muller was a man that loved the Lord. No, I am not saying that George Muller was a religious man, I am saying that he had a personal relationship with God.

Our verse today talks about the “prayer of the righteous”. I can assure you that the Lord heard the prayers of George Muller. Am I saying that George Muller was perfect? Far from it, but I know by his fruits that he loved the Lord with all his heart and it showed.

James 5:16b says these very powerful words, “…the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Mr. Muller never once asked for donations from the public to help support the orphanage. He always prayed and depended on God to supply the need. On one occasion, when there was no food in the orphanage at all, Muller had the children come to the tables for breakfast and sit down and pray. At the end of the prayer, a baker and a milkman showed up at the front door with both bread and milk to meet the need.

The Lord heard the prayers of George Muller and He can also hear the prayers that comes from you and me, but we must have the correct connection.

Several years back, Verizon Wireless had a commercial that showed a guy walking around everywhere asking the question, “Can you hear me  now?” The point of the commercial was to show the consumer that Verizon’s coverage was strong and that the connection between two phones was always going to be there and that both parties would be heard.

God has laid out for us some requirements in order for Him to hear our prayers – WE MUST BE RIGHTEOUS! Does this mean that we have to be perfect, no, but we must strive to fear Him and be faithful to Him in everything we do.

Do you want God to hear your prayers? Then strive to be a righteous person – not religious, but righteous!

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm  145:18,19).


The Cost of Bribes

Proverbs 15:27

“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.” 

“A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.” – NIV

Same Script

Have you ever noticed how most crime dramas on television are the same, at least in the writing department? When we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is “no new thing under the sun,” it especially applies to television and movie plots.

One reason that it is hard to come up with anything new is because men keep doing the same things over and over again. The stories are all so similar in pattern because the template is ingrained in man’s fallen nature. He keeps falling for the same old tricks every time, like fish that never question a swimming worm.

One common story line involves a man who needs money, takes a bribe, gets caught, then brings his family to ruin. It varies, of course, but whether it’s a politician who takes a bribe in order to keep his career afloat, or a discouraged policeman who deals confiscated drugs in order to take care of his sick children, the end is always the same – trouble.

Doing What’s Right

It is not always easy to turn down easy money. Sometimes the offer can seem pretty tempting. Several years ago my wife and I were asked to hire undocumented workers in order to keep down the costs of a cleaning contract. We were told over and over, “They work hard for little money…everyone does it…no one will find out.” We could have saved thousands of dollars in labor costs.

Doing what is right, however, is more important than money. Greed is the downfall of many. What would have happened my wife’s company had been visited by federal agents? How many lies would she have been responsible for when she filed payroll taxes? What would have happened to our family of one of us had been sent to jail?

Even when times are at their worst, doing wrong, taking a bribe, doing it for the money, is never good for one’s home. Somebody down the line will pay for poor choices made.


He Reads Minds

Proverbs 15:26

“The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.”

Reading Minds

I am not a mind reader, but I can usually tell you what my children are thinking. When they get angry with each other, they want revenge. When one gets hurt, the other is sad, but only on the outside…they laugh on the inside.

I have even become better at reading my wife’s mind. When she says that she is not feeling well, what she really wants is for me to make dinner, pay the bills, clean the house, and help the children with their homework. When she says, “Honey, let’s put the kids to bed early tonight,” what she really wants is to go to bed early…after watching the news. Pretty simple.

However, when it really comes down to knowing every little thought in a person’s mind, only God can do that (Hebrews 4:13-13). He even knows more than Santa Claus.

Hidden Thoughts

The wicked think they can fool God. They parade around doing good, like feeding the homeless, adopting orphans, or hammering a nail in a habitat. They go to church; have pews named after them; and occupy seats on the most influential boards; yet, inside they are “full of dead men’s bones.” Who are they kidding?

The wicked don’t have to do anything outwardly bad; Yahweh knows their thoughts. He knows their motivations. He can read their minds, even when their actions are an attempt to disguise.

Nothing Hidden

The pure of heart have nothing to hide. Their actions betray their thoughts in a good way. Their words are windows into hearts with proper intentions, and the Lord loves to hear them speak.

God doesn’t even have to hear the wicked speak to know what’s on their minds (Matt. 15:19). He says, “I know what you’re thinking, so don’t even say it.” But the pure, the righteous, are a different story altogether. He says, “Come, let us reason together…I’d love to hear what you have to say.


A Timely Word

Proverbs 15:23

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”

In yesterday’s Proverbial Thought – “Purposes Established!”, it was discussed just how important it is to seek counsel. Today’s verse we flip to the other side of the coin and talk about when someone come to us seeking advice what is our response. Today’s verse focuses on not only giving the right advice but giving it at the appropriate time. I love the way the HCSB says our verse, “A man takes joy in giving an answer; and a timely word — how good that is!”

The book of Proverbs contains many words of advice and wisdom regarding our speech. It also gives us several reasons for our words:

It’s All About the Timing

As it was says earlier, a wise person not only knows the correct response to give but also gives it at the correct time. This wise counsel was given to us in Ecclesiastes 8:5-6:

“Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way. For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.”

Proverbs 25:11 also tells us:

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” 

We have all either heard of stories or experienced them ourselves. The story of someone going through a hard time, having a loved one die or receiving some extremely bad news. And then it happens. Someone who is trying to console them with words tells them of their cousin’s best friend’s mother who went through the exact same thing but tells them of the horrific end that took place.

Why do we (yes, I have done this myself) think this is going to make them feel better? The timing was way off and not at all comforting to the receiver.

This reminds me Job. During the time that he was devastated by the news he had just received, three visitors came to him and basically started telling him it was all his fault. How is that for positive reenforcement!

Solomon is telling us in our verse that the proper words spoken at the proper time will be good news to both the giver of those words and the receiver.

So the next time you are going to give advice to someone, not only remember that there are right words to say but that there is also the right time to say them.