Category Archives: Wisdom

More Pleased

Proverbs 21:3.

“To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (KJV). 

Justice and Judgment:

What does the Lord want us to do? To do justice and judgment. Or, as it says in the New Living Translation: “The LORD is more pleased when we do what is just and right than when we give him sacrifices.” That tells us that – contrary to popular belief in the world today – there are certain things that are right and certain things that are wrong. And God wants us to do those things that are right. He wants us to be loving, forgiving and gracious people.

But – what does Solomon mean when he says that doing justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice? What kind of sacrifice is he talking about here?

The Sacrifices:

Under the Old Covenant, when the people would sin, they would have to make a sacrifice to atone for their sin. Under the New Covenant, when we sin, we confess our sins to God and tell Him we’re sorry for what we’ve done, and when we do, He forgives us.

However, some people have taken the grace of God and used it as a license to sin. They think that because God is good and forgiving, they can go out and sin all they want, as long as they make a sacrifice / confess their sins to Him. Some people try to make up for their sin by trying to balance it out with good deeds. Because they feel guilty, they go out and do something good like go to church, worship, fast or pray.

But God is more pleased when we do what is just and right in the first place, rather than going out and doing bad things then having to offer sacrifices to try to make up for our wrongdoings. Yes it’s true that God is gracious and will forgive us when we sin, but we cannot let that be an excuse to be a Sunday Christian, doing our religious duty at church, then forgetting about doing what is just and right the rest of the week.

A Story from Spurgeon:

I think this story by Charles Spurgeon best illustrates our motivation for doing what is just and right, even though God forgives us when we sin:

Spurgeon“There is the story of half-a-dozen boys who had severe fathers, accustomed to beat them within an inch of their lives. Another boy was with them who was well beloved by his parents, and known to do so. These young boys met together to hold a council of war about robbing an orchard. They were all anxious to get about it except the favoured youth, who did not enjoy the proposal. One of them cried out, “You need not be afraid: if our fathers catch us at this work, we shall be half-killed, but your father won’t lay a hand upon you.” The little boy answered, “And do you think because my father is kind to me, that therefore I will do wrong and grieve him? I will do nothing of the sort to my dear father. He is so good to me that I cannot vex him.”


Using a Legacy

Proverbs 20:21 

An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end. (NLT)

Jesus taught about early inheritances in the Parable of Prodigal Son. Interestingly, in our society an inheritance is no longer guaranteed. People are living longer, and many are tempted by schemes that release equity in their properties to help them remain financially secure during retirement. This often means that there is very little left to pass down to the next generation.

We received a small inheritance of £1,000 back in 1983 when my grandmother died. It was very welcome and we used it to purchase items we desperately needed for our home, such as a washing machine (we were getting by with a handed down twenty-year old twin tub at the time). That £1,000 didn’t last long, but it was used wisely. We knew where it had gone.

IMG_4574When the end was in sight for my mother-in-law she changed her will to leave each of her grandchildren £5,000 (the sum had originally been £1,000). We asked her to state in her will that these sums should be invested and released on the marriage of each grandchild, or when they had reached twenty-five years of age. Mother-in-law felt that her grandchildren should receive their legacies at eighteen years of age. Two of our children, and our nephew and niece had already reached that milestone. Sadly, not all of the grandchildren used their inheritances wisely. Perhaps it would have been better if the money held been held in trust until they were older and wiser.

CIMG1917Receiving an inheritance when we are young in age or lacking in wisdom is not necessarily a good thing. To use an inheritance foolishly is also disrespectful to the memory of the person who left that inheritance. When I think back to my mother-in-law’s passing the real inheritance was visible in the village church where we held a service of thanksgiving for her life. This woman who had been tragically widowed in 1979 lived the next twenty-four years of her life actively serving others. When I stood at the front of the church to talk about her life I was amazed to see the church so full that people were standing in the aisles and in the entrance. What a legacy to have touched so many lives. What a witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit in my mother-in-law’s life. And what a challenge to follow the example she set by following the example provided 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ.

Relevant Posts: Leaving a Legacy


The Art of War

Proverbs 20:18 

Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.
Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice. (NLT)

A Chinese General by the name of Sun Tzu is attributed with authorship of a book called the ‘Art of War.’ It is widely believed that Sun Tzu lived several hundred years before Jesus Christ. While there is some controversy over the identity of Sun Tzu, scholars have established that The Art of War has been in existence for at least 2,200 years. It is a book is that is studied by those in the corporate world, as well as those in the military.

The Wikipedia entry for The Art of War states: Sun Tzu considered war as a necessary evil that must be avoided whenever possible. In the introduction to my copy the translator writes: As in the story of the ancient healers, in Sun Tzu’s philosophy the peak efficiency of knowledge and strategy is to make conflict altogether unnecessary: “To overcome others’ armies without fighting is the best of skills.”

Reading such statements reminds me of the way that Jesus lived. Prophecies about Jesus were recorded before The Art of War was written. In Isaiah 53 the prophet speaks of One who would be oppressed and afflicted, but not open His mouth in resistance. These Old Testament writings appeared to be lost on their readership, for the Messiah that the Jewish race expected was a mighty military leader who would crush their oppressors, not One who would be oppressed.

Ordinarily, the execution of one man 2,000 years ago should not have made a mark on history, but the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ changed history forever. Imagine what the world would be like if Jesus had never lived. The fact that He lived, died and rose again gives all humanity hope for tomorrow. If the corporate world can use the writings of an ancient Chinese general to formulate strategy, then how is it that the world continues largely to ignore the teachings of Jesus, which are similar in this instance, but lead to a blessed eternity spent forever in the presence of God?

Like Sun Tzu Jesus taught his followers a better way to overcome their enemies. He said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42 NIV)

Reference: Sun Tzu, The Art of War (Translated by Thomas Cleary), Shambhala, 1988


Private Stock

Proverbs 20:15

“There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”

The Salesman

I can’t help but grin as I read this verse. I can almost hear the voice of a salesman showing off his wares, but starting with the common, ordinary brands…

“Now, over here you got your gold, which is pretty good, and a lot of people like it, but I don’t think it’s what your looking for. It’s a little heavy, commonly used on teeth, etc. Just follow me to the next isle.

photo (11)Now, what you have here are the finest rubies money can buy. I have seen ’em worn by those Proverbs 31 women; sold a bunch to some watch makers; heck, I even sold a box full to Lady GaGa – she’s gonna glue ’em to herself.

But, you know, I got a feeling you want something a little more special, correct?”

That’s when the salesman would take on a serious tone and retrieve a single, velvet box from out of a locked safe. Looking around to make sure the coast was clear, he would open up the box and say,

This is what you really want…it’s far more valuable than the gold or rubies. Isn’t it beautiful? Nothing like it, huh? It’s called…wisdom.

It’s from the Owner’s private stock.”

The Owner

Gold and rubies are wonderful to look at. They’re even more wonderful to have in one’s possession. But if one had enough wealth he could have rooms full of both – all it would take is money.

When it comes to wisdom, however, no amount of money can buy it. You can’t even rent it. It has to be given or shared.

Fortunately, God wants us to walk into His store with nothing in our hands. He wants to give us something far more valuable than gold or rubies. All he wants us to do is ask.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:5 ESV

 


God-given Understanding

Proverbs 20:12

“The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.”

Yesterday, we looked at how if even children are judged by their actions how much more adults are.

It would make sense that this verse follows, then.

Man in our world teach that our eyes and our ears came about by accident over millions of years.

They also teach that many cannot be held responsible for their actions in certain situations (to which there indeed are a few).

However, it was God who gave us our ears and our eyes.

Why is this important?

God has shown us we must follow His example:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8, NIV

And He has told us how to live:

44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:44-48, NIV

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35, NIV

God has given us eyes and ears to know that what He says and does is good and perfect and what we must do.

He has shown us the way and given us instructions. It is our duty to pay attention and follow Him.

Wise Lord, grant us the wisdom to listen to Your teachings, to see where You are moving, and to live in such a way to please You.

 


Mud Puddles

Proverbs 20:9

“Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?”

Mud Puddles:

boy in mud

Did you ever notice how little kids love to play in the mud? There’s something inside of them like a magnet that draws them towards mud and dirt. If you Google “child in mud” you will instantly come up with hundreds of photos of children playing in the mud. (And of course most of them are boys).

When I was a youth pastor in BC, I used to go to Stillwood Bible Camp every summer to be a counsellor at our church’s kids and youth camps. One of the highlights at the kids camp was the log fighting. We would have two kids of equal size sitting on a log that was elevated over a mud puddle, and both kids were given pool noodles. The object of the game was to knock the other person off of the log into the mud puddle. By the end of the game, everyone was covered in mud – even the counsellors! And then came the fun part – getting cleaned up.

Now, when you’ve got two hundred kids covered in mud from head to toe, it’s probably not a smart thing to send them back to their cabins to get cleaned up. (If you did that, the next big event of the day would be cabin clean up). So we lined the kids up in a field and got out the fire hose to hose them off. And that water was cold!

A Clean Heart:

It’s one thing to remove the dirt from your skin. It’s another thing entirely to remove dirt from your heart – we call that dirt sin – and make your heart clean. Have you ever tried to do it? It’s impossible, isn’t it? There’s no amount of good deeds we can to do reverse the stain of sin. When Solomon asks the question: who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” the assumed answer is, “No one.” That’s the bad news. But I have some good news, too!

In Isaiah 1:18, the prophet says, “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” This is the good news! Although in our own ability, we can do nothing to take away our sins, God has already provided a solution for us – through His son Jesus Christ.

When we believe in Jesus, trusting Him to be our Lord and Saviour, God takes all of our sins and places them on Jesus on the Cross, and then freely credits to our account the righteousness of God. As we confess our sins to God, not only does He forgive us, but He also washes us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. What joy! What hope!

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 


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.


For Our Good

Proverbs 19:27

“Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.” (KJV).
“If you stop listening to instruction, my child, you have turned your back on knowledge.” (NLT).  

Mandatory Bike Helmets:

In the province of Manitoba where I reside, our government recently made a change in the laws regarding cycling. Effective the beginning of this month,* all cyclists under the age of 18 must wear a bike helmet. If you’re caught biking without a helmet, you have to pay a $50 fine. (However, first-time offenders can have the $50 fine waived if they complete an online bicycle helmet safety course).

I have four children – Caleb (16), Tori (15), Austin (13) and Hannah (10), and all of our family enjoys going bike-riding. However, when this new law was announced, our children – especially my oldest son Caleb – weren’t too excited about it. Wear a bike helmet? No way – that’s not cool! Not to mention the fact that it messes up your hair! However, as parents, we have told our children that our expectation is that if they want to ride a bike, they must wear a helmet.

Out biking with my daughter Hannah

Out biking with my daughter Hannah – with helmet on!

The Reason for the Rules:

I think one of the biggest objections children have to following rules is this: They want to know why. “Why can’t I ride a bike without a helmet? I’ll pay the fine myself if I get caught!” Such objections are missing the point. The purpose of the bike helmet law isn’t just to get people to pay a fine – it’s to keep people safe!

Our province says each year about 160 cyclists end up in hospital from cycling injuries, and many collisions result in serious injury or death. About 40% of those injuries involve children. Wearing a helmet reduces the chance of serious head and brain injury by more than 85% in the event of a crash. That’s the reason for the rules.

For Our Good:

Today’s Proverb tells us that if we stop listening to instruction, we are turning our back on knowledge. And we’re turning our back on God’s wisdom, too – and the benefits of obeying the Bible. “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” (Deut. 10:12-13). In other words, God’s commandments are for our own good – to protect us from harm, or provide blessings for us.

Heavenly Father, I thank you that you are a good God, and that when you give us rules, it is not to keep us from having fun, but rather to protect us and provide for the best life possible. Help us to listen to your wise instruction, and never turn our backs on knowledge. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.

*Originally written in May of 2013.


Wednesday Night and Chapter 26

Hello, friends! This is a video of tonight’s (4/15/2020) Bible study at Bethlehem Baptist Church where I am the pastor.

With me is my daughter, Katie Marie.

Tonight we are going through several passages in the 26th chapter of Proverbs. I hope you enjoy.

Please leave comments 🙂


Listen To Me Please!

Proverbs 19:20

“Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.”

listen-to-me-pleaseI have one child. She is currently eight years old going on 16 and she already knows everything! I am sure that most parents have been in this situation at one time or another.

I have found myself more and more saying to her, “Just listen to me, please! I have been there before and I am trying to help you, so just listen to me”. (I know my parents have a smile of their face about right now)

Just the other day, we were working on some math homework for school. She was convinced that the answer that she had come up with was the correct answer and that nothing else could be right. As I proceeded to help her, I was met with the look on her face that told me that I was stupid and that I did not know what I was talking about.

I begged her to please listen to me because for one, I had done this type of math before and I knew how to get the right answer and number 2, I knew that I was right!

Long story short, after a long, hard battle of trying to show her that I was right, she finally looked at me and said that I guess you do know what you are talking about. Later that day she told me that the way I showed her how to get the answer was a much easier way.

This is exactly what Solomon was talking about in our verse today. He is telling us that while we are young, we need to listen to people who have been through different experiences and learn from them. Whether someone has gone through a good experience or a bad experience, there is always something that we can learn from them in how they handled the situation.

Solomon is telling us that when we listen to instructions and advice, that when we are older we will be wise in how we handle things.

Lord, give us ears that are open to advice and instructions and give us wisdom and understanding to compare them with Your Word. We pray that when we are young that we would listen to godly advice and instructions and when we are older, that that same godly advice would be passed down to the next generation.