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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The Pure Word

Proverbs 30:5-6.
 “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (KJV).

God’s Word is Trustworthy:

I love the Bible for so many different reasons. It is the Word of God. It’s a love letter from God to us. It gives us wisdom for living life. It provides joy, peace, hope and comfort. It teaches us how to know God. It shows us how to find freedom from sin, guilt and shame. But I also love the Bible because it is trustworthy. Agur, son of Jakeh tells us that every word of God is pure. There are no lies, mistakes or errors in the Bible. You can trust it! God is faithful, and you can count on Him to fulfill His promises.

Agur tells us that God’s Word is a shield to those who trust Him. A shield is a defensive weapon to protect you from the attacks of an enemy. We know that faith comes by hearing God’s Word, and the Bible also tells us that faith is a shield that will quench all of the fiery darts of our enemy. So when we trust God and His Word, He protects us from the enemy. Just like an umbrella will protect you from getting wet on a rainy day, so God’s Word will protect you from the devil.

Don’t Add To His Words:

Not only is the Bible pure, but God’s Word is also perfect and complete. The Bible has given us everything we need that pertains to life and godliness. In the Bible, we discover how to be saved, and also how to live a life that brings God honour and glory. Therefore, we don’t need anything more than the Bible. There are many different religions that try to add to the wisdom of the Bible. Some churches add their traditions, confessions and creeds and make them out to be as important as the Bible, though they are imperfect. False religions – such as the Mormons – have added more books to the Holy Scriptures, but they are all untrue man-made teachings.

In this Proverb, Agur gives a strong warning to those who would add to the Bible: If you add to God’s Word, God will rebuke and correct you, and you will be found out to be a liar. Let this be a strong warning to anyone who would presume to teach or proclaim something in the name of the Lord that God has not spoken!

The Challenge to the Preacher or Teacher:

This Scripture is a sobering challenge to every preacher or teacher of God’s Word. James, the brother of Jesus, echoes this thought in James 3:1: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

Preacher! Trust the Bible. God’s Word has the power to transform people’s lives. We don’t need to add the wisdom of man – Oprah, Doctor Phil, or the latest self-help teachings! Even though the Bible was written over two thousand years ago, it is still relevant, living and powerful. As you minister the Word of God, it will heal the brokenhearted, comfort those who are mourning, and set the captives free. Amen!


Are You God?

Proverbs 30:4

“Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?”

Did You?

I have met some pretty remarkable people during my life. I have met writers, inventors, musicians, engineers, heroes of all kinds, and ordinary people who have done miraculous things. One time I even threw a several-hundred-pound friend through the air when his life was in danger (that’s a humorous story involving a snake). Therefore, I have known and even been part of an elite group of people who have done superhuman things.

However, I have never ascended into heaven (without an airplane), or gone much further than a few hundred feet into the earth. Have you? My hands are pretty quick and can snatch a fly in mid-air, but they’ve never been able to scrunch up the wind like a snowball. Have yours?

Once I made a superhero cape from a bed sheet. Before we got married, I helped my wife sew her bridesmaid dresses. When in Romania I met ladies who would un-thread old sweaters, then take the yarn and re-knit a new one. But darn it, I have never been able to stitch water. Have you?

I have met some pretty rich people in my day, although I have never been rich, myself. As a matter of fact, I have never even owned property. On the other hand, I have met people who decided where property lines should be drawn. You may have even been one of the military heroes who’s exploits determined the boundaries of nations. But, we all walk on a planet that was here long before us. I didn’t put it here. I didn’t create north, south, east, or west. Did you?

You’re Not

I have met some strange people during my life. Some of the strangest have been ones who have attempted to leave comments on my blogs. One individual even claimed to be Jesus Christ, the Son of the God (except he also claimed to be the son of the Egyptian god, Ra, too). Yet, he lived in America, had never been crucified, and believed there were more ways to the Father than just through him (the opposite of John 14:6). He was a blooming idiot! Just saying.

But the pseudo-Jesus, the son of Ra, is not the only idiot. There are a lot of people who live their lives like they’re convinced they are God. There are a lot of people who think their loved ones, their possessions, or their careers are gods; but they’re not.

And unless you created the earth; unless you can ball up the wind in your hands; unless you can travel at will back and forth to the farthest heaven in a garment made of stitched water, you’re not God, either.

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:13-16 KJV

Do you know Him?


Knowing the Holy One

Proverbs 30:1-3

The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal, Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. (KJV)
The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle. The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal: Surely I am more stupid than any man, And I do not have the understanding of a man. Neither have I learned wisdom, Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One. (NASB)

Stupid and Brutish

We, as a people, the human race, are stupid and brutish.

We like to follow our own passions. We do not like being told what to do. Sometimes we only want to be told what to do. We like having control.

We think we can be God or at least His control.

We like this so much that we start arguments, fights, battles, and wars.

We like this so much we nailed our God to the cross to kill Him.

His Wisdom and Understanding

God knew this of us before He even created ANYTHING, yet He made it all and us all just the same.

When we had Jesus beaten and nailed to a cross to die, it was already a part of His plan. He knew we are stupid and brutish, that we do not have understanding or real wisdom, and so He redeemed our stupidity and brutishness through this act of love and grace.

Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God, and only by understanding this is truth can we have knowledge of the Holy One.

With this knowledge we must turn from our sinful desires to be changed in thought, speech, and action to be like Jesus Christ, God in flesh.

Wise Lord, give us the wisdom to see Your truth. By Your power teach us repentance of our stupid and brutish ways. Help us to hear Your calling through the cross of Christ!


Which Side?

Proverbs 29:27

“An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.”

Vampires, and humans, and wolfs! Oh, my!

Twilight is/was a very popular series of books that were turned into various movies over the years – maybe you’ve seen them.

To summarize in as little words as possible, the story is about the “love” between a human female (Bella) and a male vampire (Edward), and a werewolf guy (Jacob) who comes in later to steal the human from the vampire, because the wolfman loves the human, too. You may have seen T-shirts and posters with “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” on them. Whoever is on the side of Jacob wants Bella and Jacob together. Whoever wears the “Team Edward” shirt desires the opposite.

http://cdn.blogosfere.it/pellicolerovinate/images/Twilight-Eclipse-2056.jpg

Edward (left), Bella (center), Jacob (right)

Sadly, these two sides are both wicked because they not only focus on the good of witchcraft and darkness, but they support the sinful and erotic love between a human and a beast…or a human and a soulless being. Neither side supports a moral lifestyle or legitimate love.

Those who are not on “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob,” but oppose Twilight from a Biblical perspective – because of the immoral lifestyle and values that come with it – find it difficult to understand those who enjoy the Twilight franchise. Serious fans of Twilight often gush about how it is just a sweet love story, or that it’s just fiction, and get annoyed with those who “don’t get it.” Maybe Proverbs 29:27 explains why.

Still, the fact still remains that there are serious problems with evil being portrayed as righteousness.

Either way, we have a book full of laws  – and reasons for those laws – that helps guide us in the way we should live. That should be where we look to find answers when being questioned about which “side” to take.

God’s Word is always valid and just; people are not.

 

*Check out Katie Marie’s at Shutterelf and tell her Proverbial Thought sent you 😉


God’s Favour

Proverbs 29:26.
 “Many seek the ruler’s favour; but every man’s judgment cometh from the LORD.” (KJV).

The Ruler’s Favour:

It seems like everybody is seeking the favour of a ruler. I’m sure Solomon – who wrote this Proverb – saw this often in his role as the King of the people of Israel. People would come before the King to ask a favour of him for themselves, for their family, or their community.

To seek the ruler’s favour means that people want an audience with a leader to gain some sort of advantage or blessing. This can be in many different realms: It could refer to politics where someone wants the favour of a government ruler; to education where someone wants the favour of a teacher; to the family where a child wants the favour of a parent; or to sports where an athlete wants the favour of their coach. For whatever reason, they think that if they can have an audience with their ruler or leader, they can get what they want.

The Lord’s Judgment:

In contrast to this, Solomon says that we would do much better off if we were to seek favour (justice or judgment) from the Lord instead, because ultimately, all favour, promotion and blessing comes from Him anyway. Earlier in Proverbs, Solomon taught us, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (21:1). This truth reminds us that God is the sovereign Lord over everything, and that all judgment ultimately comes from Him.

This morning at church, we kicked off our new year with our youth leading worship. One of the songs they sang was, “Blessed be Your Name.” In this song, written by Matt Redman, he declares, “You give and take away, you give and take away. My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.” This is a great reminder to us that the best thing we can do is trust God to give us what He thinks is best for us, and to praise Him whether the sun is shining down on us, it’s a rainy, cloudy day.

Lord, help us to remember that you are ultimately in control, and that you are good, and that you have good plans for our lives. Help us to lift up our eyes to You, the Lord, the one from whom our help comes. Help us to live lives that bring you honour and glory, in everything we say and do. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.


Fear Pressure

Proverbs 29:25 

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.
Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety. (NLT)

There are occasions when we speak (or fail to speak) from a position of fear, rather than from wisdom. Mostly this involves other human beings and our relationships with family, friends, colleagues, folk at church, etc. We can end up walking on eggshells for fear of causing offence, when actually we need to take a stand, and perhaps even speak out, even though such action may make us unpopular.

There may also be occasions when we act from a position of fear, particularly when peer pressure is involved. The challenge is often one of fitting in, as opposed to being the odd one out. I remember such pressures from my seafaring days when the temptations were many, and the desire to be the same as others rather than different could be overpowering.

The fear of human opinion is indeed a dangerous trap, as stated in this proverb. We may not wish to conform, but we feel a need to be part of the crowd. We don’t want to be left out. In my school days that meant hanging around with the bad kids, much to the displeasure of my teachers and my parents. One of my school reports stated a correlation between my poor academic performance and the company I was keeping.

The solution to the problem is quite simply to trust God. This involves more than praying for forgiveness and asking God for a passport to heaven. Trusting God means living in a daily relationship with Him and consulting Him about all things, even the apparently mundane. It also means not being ashamed to be called His child, even if this makes us stand out as different to those around us.

We need to remember the example of Jesus who lived a life that was completely different to the norm. Such a life soon attracted the attention of those who took offence at the way Jesus lived, mainly because it highlighted the failures and hypocrisy of their own lives. But never once did Jesus indicate that He was afraid of these people. If Jesus had been afraid would He have turned over the tables of the moneychangers in the temple courts? If Jesus had been afraid would He have put himself in a position of betrayal leading to arrest, torture and ultimately death? We have to be different because Jesus was different. We have no choice but to live in this world, but we most certainly do not have to conform to its ways because of fear.