Category Archives: Value and Worth

Golden Hearts

Proverbs 17:3 

“The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.”

Gold refining 1A friend of mine used to work for a company that specialized in precious metals. He gave me a factory tour several years ago. It was interesting to see the difference between raw materials and unrefined items, and the final product be it silver and gold bars, or jewelry supplies and products.

I remember the tremendous heat involved in the refining process and the large vault in which everything was secured, before and after refining. Everything in that factory was of value, regardless of where it was in the production line. Refining added value, as did the process of transforming silver, gold and other materials into jewelry. Needless to say, I had to undergo an airport type search before leaving the factory.

imagesThe point is that every human being was created by God in His image and is of value to God, whether they are still rough around the edges, undergoing a refining process, or fast approaching becoming a finished product. God sees value in us all, but He needs to take us in our unrefined state and add further value. The only problem is that most of us do not want to pass through the heat of the furnace.

The Hebrew word used for trieth in this proverb may also be translated as test, investigate, examine, prove, tempt, try (by trial). Each of these words describes part of the process God applies to us. We cannot expect it to be a walk in the park. This is serious stuff. But consider the end result!

Imagine a worker in the precious metal factory handling a shiny gold bar having watched it take shape from the point it entered the production line as dirty unrefined ore or nuggets. Imagine the joy of holding the finished product and seeing your reflection in it. Then imagine how God feels when He can finally see Himself reflected in one of us.

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold
 
Refiner’s fire
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will
 
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from my sin
Deep within
 
Brian Doerkson
 

Refiner’s Fire – Christy Nockels


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.


Better to Stink …

Proverbs 16:8

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.

Madoff Made Off?

Do you remember Bernie Madoff?

A few years back, right after the economy tanked, news came to light that this man was not running as fair a business as many had been led to believe.

Mr. Madoff told investors that he could take their money and grow it very quickly. Some people received exactly that, while with the rest of the money he and his family lived very, very well.

It turned out he had been running his business as a giant Ponzi Scheme, a system in which many people put in money in hopes of a great pay-off, but only a small few benefit from all of that money. When it was all revealed, thousands of people combined lost many billions of dollars.

Today Bernie Madoff sits in a prison cell, and he will be there for the rest of his life. His family has to live with the shame and guilt of what he has done.

Smelling to High Heaven

On the other hand, there are people who struggle to get by from week to week at their jobs.

What is truly amazing is that, while they my grumble about the fairness of the world from time to time, they tend to be rather happy with life. They know they are earning an honest living, and it is their hard work that provides for their loved ones.

One of my favorite quotes from the film Bruce Almighty was said by Morgan Freeman playing God: “Some of the happiest people in the world go home smelling to high heaven at the end of the day.”

Speaking of going to high heaven, Jesus said to those who follow Him:

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29, ESV)

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36, ESV)

We may have very little in this life, but if our life is lived for the sake of Christ we will one day get to have Him! There is nothing better.

Wonderful God, thank You for all You do and have done for us. Help us to live our lives entirely for You, that no matter if we have much or little, we have lived righteously and will one day see You face to face!


Worthy to Receive Honor

Proverbs 14:28 

In the multitude of people is the king’s honor: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince.
A growing population is a king’s glory; a prince without subjects has nothing. NLT

Which King?

When I read this verse I wondered if the reference was to earthly kings or to our Heavenly King? Here in the UK we still have a royal family so it is easy for me to consider what constitutes a king’s (or in our case queen’s) honor or glory. Queen Elizabeth II has been a worthy monarch. Although her powers are restricted to constitutional and representational matters, she is generally loved and admired by a multitude of people.

This proverb links population to honor and glory. The UK population has certainly grown during the Queen’s sixty-year reign, mainly due to immigration, much of which has taken place in the last few years. But does the growing population bring the Queen honor and glory? No. The fact that the Queen is so highly regarded in the UK and around the world is because of the way that she has fulfilled her duties, and continues to do so despite being eighty-six years old. Will Prince Charles be similarly loved and respected when/if he is crowned as King? That seems unlikely. While Prince Charles is first in line to the throne, he is not as well received by his ‘subjects’ as his mother. Queen Elizabeth will be a hard act to follow.

Another King

One of the UK’s most rousing and patriotic songs is ‘I Vow to Thee My Country.’ The words begin with loyalty to the nation, but end with a poetic description of heaven, and a King above all other kings, a King who seeks a growing population, a multitude of people who choose to bow before Him. A King who stands at the door of every human heart and knocks, waiting quietly for an answer.

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar, the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
 
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

Listen: Katherine Jenkins sings ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’


Employment Issues

Proverbs 14:23

In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.

No Work, No Pay

In February 1980 I lost my job. I had been married for just under a year, and my wife was pregnant with our first child. Although my wife was still working, she had part-time work only, and we could not survive without my income.

My first visit to the unemployment benefit office was educational, and I was surprised at the number of people claiming benefits who appeared to have no desire to find employment. Being unemployed was not an option for me, but it took seven weeks of filling out forms and knocking on doors before I managed to find a job as the UK was in recession at this time. Sitting down and talking about finding employment would not have worked. I needed to take action if we were to be able to pay our bills. I needed work.

Low Pay

My new job paid less than half of what I had been earning a few months earlier when I was still serving at sea. I came ashore six months after our wedding because I did not want to be separated from my wife for two-thirds of the year. My new job was somewhat different. I exchanged my navigating officer’s uniform for overalls, and my ship for a van. My days were spent driving around the county delivering motor parts to garages.

Despite the low pay I enjoyed my new job. Instead of the freedom of the high seas, I had the freedom of the countryside. Instead of having a salary transferred directly into my bank account at the end of each month, I received my wages in cash at the end of each week.

Job Satisfaction

photo-9The fact that work is about more than wages is most evident in the face of one of the assistants at our local supermarket. He regularly mans the self-service tills. Customers use the self-service tills because they are supposed to be quicker. Inevitably they are not and there are often problems. When problems occur the assistant manning the tills is frequently on the receiving end of significant abuse. This particular assistant smiles his way through the day, despite the abuse. He told me he enjoys his work. It is a joy to watch him in action…a man who is satisfied with his job, because in all labor there is profit, and profit is more than hard cash.


Friends and Neighbors

Proverbs 14:20

“The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends.”

Definition of a Neighbor

An expert in the law once asked Jesus the question: “Who is my neighbor?” This man knew that the law told him to love his neighbor, but while the purpose of the question was to test Jesus, it is doubtful that he was head over heels in love with all his neighbors. So Jesus told a story and put the expert in the law on the spot. The story involved a Samaritan, a person the expert in the law was least likely to want as his next-door neighbor. At the end of the story the legal expert begrudgingly accepted that out of three people, the Samaritan was the only true neighbor to the injured Jew in the illustration provided by Jesus. The mercy, compassion and love showed by the Samaritan enriched him as the giver, and the injured Jew as the receiver. It must also have enriched the innkeeper.

Poor Neighbor or Good?

While mercy, compassion and love bring enrichment, the process of hating another human being brings impoverishment to all parties. Hate is a strong and unpleasant word, but if there is a person or group of people we despise, don’t like, disrespect, look down on, etc., then is that any better than hate? What gives us the right to judge ourselves better than another human being? Are we good neighbors or poor neighbors? Are we rich in mercy, compassion and love? Should we be friends of the rich or good neighbors to the poor?

Who are Your Friends?

It is said that we can choose our friends but not our families. Similarly, it is not possible to choose our neighbors, especially if we consider how Jesus defined neighbors. Jesus quite deliberately spent much of his time with the impoverished of society, rather than with rich people, famous people, or clever people. His friends were fishermen, prostitutes, tax collectors, and the like. Jesus wasn’t intimidated by learning, wealth or position, He looked at the heart. So when a rich young man asked Jesus what he needed to do to be saved, Jesus told him to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor. By enriching the lives of others in this way this young man would have become wealthy in a different way, with riches that would last forever.

Who is your neighbor?


Knowledge Looks Good On You

Proverbs 14:18

“The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.”

Making a Deal

When I was young, there was a very popular game show on television called Let’s Make a Deal. One of the most popular aspects of that show was the opportunity given to contestants to choose their prize. They could choose between what they were initially given, or take a risk and exchange it for something else…usually behind “curtain number 1.”

More often than not, the contestants would choose to take the risk – and it was a risk – and surrender what was in hand (even though they may have not know what that was, either) for whatever was hidden behind one of several curtains.

And, more often than not, as far as I can remember, the contestants usually ended up with something pretty silly, like a lifetime supply of toothpicks. On the other hand, there were those who made bank. “You just won a brand new car!

For those who wanted to take a risk and play the game, the outcome was still better than having never played at all.

But let’s just imagine if the “simple” person in this proverb was on a similar game show. What might we see?

“Let’s Get a Crown!” 

Imagine the simple man of this verse traveling to Hollywood to compete on Let’s Get a Crown!. Imagine him being selected from the crowd and being asked to “come on down” to the front to stand with the host.

After being selected as a contestant, Mr. Simple is given a small prize – a gilded toilet bowl plunger. Then, after a laugh, the game show host offers Mr. Simple a few curtains from which to choose, noting that behind each is a prize far more grand than the one already in his possession.

Host: “Sir, all you have to do is trade that gilded plunger for one of those curtains, and I guarantee, regardless of your choice, the prize will be far more valuable. Which do you want to choose?”

Mr. Simple: “Well, Bob, I think I’ll just keep my plunger.”

Host: “What? You could trade that plunger in for a chance at much greater things! Surely you’d rather walk out of here with a prize to be proud of, wouldn’t you?”

Mr. Simple: “Nah. I have what I have. It’ll do. I’m not leaving empty-handed, so why ask for anything more?”

Choose to Learn

We could approach Proverbs 14:18 from several different directions, but the one I would like to take is that of one who settles with ignorance rather than striving for knowledge.

Consider the word inherit in the first part of this proverb. It is in the “perfect tense,” which means the inheriting of folly is a completed action – it’s done.

The word crowned in the second part is different; it’s in the “imperfect tense.” In other words, it’s an on-going thing, not something that is finished.

The simple – the foolish – are content with what they know and are content in their ignorance.

However, the prudent understand the value of learning and are not content with the gilded plunger of ignorance! They are ever expanding the substance of their inheritance and continue to add to their estate and wear a crown to prove it…

…much like those who come here to learn a little more about God’s Word.

Knowledge looks good on you 🙂 


Building a Home

Proverbs 14:1

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

Housebuilding

Six months before we got married my wife and I purchased our first home. Mortgages were not easy to come by in 1978 and we had to find a deposit of £1,000 for a house that cost £14,995. Prudently we saved far more than the deposit before applying for a mortgage. Why? Because a house without furniture would not have been a home. Some of our furniture was purchased second-hand, some of it was new. Some of it was given to us by relatives who wanted to pass on their hand-me-downs. It didn’t really matter where it came from, what mattered was that we were building a home.

Lived In

When I look back at our first house it wasn’t perfect. The wallpaper and carpets were chosen by the previous owner and could best be described as ‘loud.’ The electric heating was inefficient and expensive. The front door caught the force of the wind and the rain in winter and used to jam. But whatever else that house was it was our home. It was where we lived and raised our family for fourteen years. If you had visited you might not have found a tidy home, but you would have found a home that was lived in. A home that was built and cherished by a wise woman. My wife.

Tenant or Owner

Just as our homes should be filled with evidence of our lives, Scripture teaches that our lives should be filled with evidence of God’s Holy Spirit. If we have surrendered our lives to God this is equivalent to opening the front door of our home and inviting Him in as the new owner, not just a tenant. If we do this then He will help us to change the decoration, fit new carpets, install new heating, and anything else He sees necessary for Him to feel comfortable living in us. It all boils down to ownership. Have you made God the owner of your house or do you treat Him like a tenant?


Leaving an Inheritance

Proverbs 13:22

A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

A Good Man

My grandfather was a good man. He was also a wise man. He trained as an accountant and set up his own business in the City of London. When my grandfather began auditing a new motor business he became such a valued friend of the founder that he gave him shares in the business. This business eventually became one of the largest Ford dealerships in South London.

A Financial Inheritance

When my grandfather died in 1964 my grandmother was left in the position of never having any financial worries. By this time my father was a Baptist pastor serving a circuit of four churches in Guernsey, and supporting a wife and two children. Two more children were added to the family in 1965 and 1967 and it was certainly a challenge for my father to support his family. My grandmother helped out financially from time to time ensuring that the inheritance left to her by my grandfather benefited her son and helped him to continue in ministry. When my grandmother died in 1983 the money she left helped provide for my parents and paved the way for a secure retirement that continues to today. That financial inheritance has also been used to help provide for me and my family, and my sisters and their families.

A Different Inheritance

My grandfather left more than a financial inheritance. He was more than a good man. He was a man of God. He invested in the spiritual welfare of his children. My father became a Baptist pastor and my aunt trained for the mission field, but served instead in her local church in many roles including youth leader and church secretary. The spiritual investment made by my grandfather was passed to me and to my sisters, and in turn from me to my children. That is an investment I can rejoice in. I rejoice in seeing my eldest son serving as a youth pastor, while my second son is leading a house group in our church. My third son is becoming increasingly involved in a student church where he lives and recently spoke in a service. My daughter and youngest son are active members of the youth group at our church. If only my grandfather could see the results of his wisest investment.


Get a Job! Or 3 or 4!

Proverbs 13:4

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

“I’m Gonna…”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I’m gonna (do this or that).” I have heard grand schemes, everything from opening a new business, to joining the military, to inventing a never-before-heard-of product that will revolutionize the world. Yet, nothing ever gets done.

The “sluggard” is a man or woman that is flat-out lazy. The word comes from the idea of calling a person a slug, or a snail. But at least a snail is usually on his way somewhere, albeit slowly. The sluggard does nothing but talk of plans in the works, but work is never seen.

Get a Job!

Just today I was talking with a mother of a grown man out of work. He constantly takes from her, then runs off until the money is gone. He abuses her property, never gives her respect, and tries to play “daddy” with a girl who is not his wife. And when it comes to work, he complains that he can’t find a job. Baloney…Hogwash…Cow feces!

I thank God for allowing my wife and I to hit rock bottom years ago. I went from making a large income to making nothing. Just to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family’s heads, I (and my wife) did everything from deliver news papers, to clean toilets in factories. I delivered pizza, worked on a dangerous assembly line, and even sold insurance. At one point I was working 3-4 jobs at one time!

You see, the lazy sluggard has big desires, but won’t take responsibility and work for it. The diligent will do whatever it takes.

Little Patience

Today’s proverb reminds me of how little patience I have for “sluggards.” In my opinion there is no excuse for someone to sit on his duff and whine about what he doesn’t have. A real man will work, even if it is not the type of work he prefers. It is his responsibility, especially if he has a family.

Some want to use the “system” as an excuse for laziness. Others want to blame the government or the “bourgeoisie.” But in reality, the only one to blame is the one who desires something, but does nothing honest to obtain it. Honest, hard work is the answer to a great deal of society’s woes.

“But, there are no good jobs!” you may say. Sorry, washing dishes is a job. Cleaning floors is a job. And, if you do both at the same time, along with getting tips from waiting tables, you can live without mooching off your mother.

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” – Ecclesiastes 5:12

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” – Ephesians 4:28

Thus sayeth the Lord: “Get a job.”