Tag Archives: Apostle Paul

Discretion Delivers

Proverbs 2:12 

“To deliver thee from the way of the evil [man], from the man that speaketh froward things;”

Discretion that Delivers

How many of you have ever heard the phrase, “discretion is the better part of valor?” Well, whether you have or not, the phrase comes from the words of a character in one of Shakespeare’s plays.

Actually, it was a cowardly knight, Falstaff, who faked his own death in order escaped being killed. He said, “The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have sav’d my life.” – Henry the IV

As opposed to acting with courage and honor, Falstaff justified his cowardice by essentially saying, “Look, I assessed the situation and determined that doing the honorable thing would have left me a dead hero. My discretion has saved my life and allowed me to fight another day.” In reality, Falstaff disgraced the ideas of both valor and discretion. He was just a coward and a sneak.

True discretion, however, can prove a real life saver. Discretion can deliver.

From Deadly Ways

Look again at verses 11 and 12, “Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: to deliver thee from the way of the evil man…

Do you realize that evil people typically walk the same road of life? And were you aware that these evil people would love for you to walk with them, even if the road they’re traveling leads to destruction? Believe it or not, the world is full of them. You need God’s wisdom to help you determine the right road, the Way.

We will see later that there is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end of the way is death (Prov 16:25). Wise discernment will help you determine whether or not the road you’re being called to travel is healthy, or deadly.

From Hungry Wolves

In Acts chapter twenty, the apostle Paul called upon the elders of the church from Ephesus. He informed them he was going to be leaving, and upon his leaving they should remember to watch out for wolves. What kind of wolves? The kind in sheep’s clothing.

Paul said, “I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch…”(Acts 20:29-31a). Believe it or not, there are some slick talkers out there who want to devour you like lamb roast.

Be discerning. Be careful of whom you listen to. Wise discernment, the kind that comes from God, will help you determine whether or not their words are pure, or “perverse.”

Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. – John 6:67-68 NKJV

 

(originally published 4/11/12)


Demetrius or a Clerk?

Proverbs 29:8

Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.
Scorners set a city aflame, but wise men turn away anger. (NASB)

Way back in Bible times, specifically in the first decades of the Church after Christ’s ascension into Heaven, there were people who were a bit of rabble-rousers.

In Acts 19 Paul was preaching about Jesus Christ to the people of Ephesus. One of the greatest temples of ancient times, the Temple of Artemis, was in Ephesus, and when the silversmith Demetrius saw many Artemis-worshipers becoming Christ-worshipers he got a mob together. He set their hearts aflame for murder of those who would steal from Artemis (and their pockets, seeing as fewer people would be buying their idols).

When the mob was at a fever pitch, it was a city clerk who talked reason to the people. He calmed them and sent them away.

Who are you?

Galatians chapter five tells us that Christians should live the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control“.

Do you live like Demetrius? Are you a person who only watches out for your own good? Do you insight others when you do not get your way? Do you complain about every little thing, such as French fries that are not hot enough; something over the wrong, cheaper price tag in a store; a customer service person was rude to you for not automatically giving you free things over your mistake; the church carpet is too ugly; or someone may have inadvertently insulted some people group?

Or do you live like Christ? Do you seek to spread love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness? Do you display forgiveness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

Are you a Demetrius or a clerk? Are you a tyrant or a servant?

Dear Lord, give us the grace and strength to be peace-makers wherever we go. By Your Holy Spirit, give us wisdom in every situation.


Somebody’s Watching

The following is a previously unpublished post, but someone needs to read it. I was supposed to have been posted this a long time ago, but there was a glitch. Evidently God knows for whom this was meant.

Proverbs 5:21-33

“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” 

Reality TV

Reality television has taken over the airwaves. Nearly every one of the fourteen billion channels have at least one reality show, and there are even whole networks devoted to them. As I read the proverb for today, I couldn’t help thinking of a particular one involving security cameras.

It seems that criminals never learn. Either that, or they never watch reality TV. Do they not know that when they steal gasoline, rob a bank, or mug a toddler at the candy store, someone is watching? Have they never looked up? Have they never noticed that electronic eye mounted in a corner above them?

Never Looking Up

The same question might be asked of us with regards to sin. When will we ever learn that Someone is watching us? When will we look up? When will we notice the “eyes of the Lord?”

Addressing the issue of adultery, Solomon warns his sons that sin is not done in secret. No matter how dark the room, or secluded the hotel, “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth” (2 Chron. 16:9a). Even though one’s husband or wife may not know, God does.

Why doesn’t the sinner look up? Too often he suffers from a form of tunnel vision. He is so focused on the temptation that he becomes blind to everything else, including that heavenly security camera above.

Bound by Sin. 

It may seem crazy that a criminal would forget cameras are watching his every move; but some the excuses they give, once caught, are equally insane. Some will literally watch video of themselves committing a crime, then deny it. They say, “That wasn’t me!”

In one program called “Bait Car,” police rig an automobile with hidden cameras. They also wire the care so that it can be remotely shut down and locked. When criminals steal the car, not only do they get filmed, but they get trapped.

Sin has a nasty habit of not letting go. The one who says “Just this once” usually gets bound by his actions. Once the fun is over, there is always a price to pay. Unfortunately for the wicked, most “die without instruction.”

Don’t Get Trapped

The Apostle Paul could have been speaking of the car thief or the adulterer in 1 Corinthians 3:19. The wisdom of the world leads the wicked to think he can get away with sin, but God “traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness” (NLT).

Yet, for those who have sinned – for those who have forgotten to “look up” – Jesus offers you freedom from the chains of sin. When one “sees Jesus” (John 12:21), he will not only “turn from his wicked ways,” but he will find One who can break the “cords of sin.”

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” –  Luke 4:18 KJV


Honking Escalade

Proverbs 16:19

“Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

Rich and Poor

Not all poor people are humble. Not all rich people are proud. We should never jump to conclusions and assume that just because a man is poor he is humble, or prideful if he is rich.

That being said, today’s proverb addresses the heart of man, and that heart is usually more proud when he is rich, humble when he is poor. For instance, the people who blew their horn at my wife and I, as we sat at a stop sign and couldn’t go anywhere, were in a big Cadillac Escalade. They honked at us, but we didn’t honk at the little old lady in front of us who couldn’t decide where to go. (That actually happened just a few moments before writing this)

Riches and Poverty

This proverb also addresses the misconception that wealth is better than poverty. Sure, to have more money and possessions can be a great blessing, but it can also be a curse far worse than being destitute.

This verse also addresses the misguided belief that “the one with the most” wins. Many only have “the most” because they have taken advantage of those who have little.

The NIV translates this verse, “Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” It might not always be the poor and rich we’re talking about, but the oppressed and the oppressors. Either way, the one who is worse off in God’s eyes is the one who sits with those who have become wealthy by taking from others, and is proud of it.

Be Content

Let us consider Proverbs 16:19 as we observe the words of the Apostle Paul…

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

Ultimately, it’s better to have nothing and a humble heart, than have everything and be at odds with our God.

(I hope the horn on that Escalade breaks and starts blowing when they’re behind a State Trooper)

 

 


I’d Rather Live In a Tent

Proverbs 14:11

“The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.”

House vs. Tent

There is a huge difference between a house and a tent. At one point in our marriage, my wife and I actually contemplated buying a nicer tent (one with rooms) and living in it during the summer. We briefly wondered if doing that could help us save money, as opposed to renting a house. The only problem with that was air-conditioning and running water – a tent has neither.

Another thing or two that a tent does not have are solid walls, doors, outlets for electricity, and appliances for washing clothes and cooking food. A tent is not the kind of dwelling you want to hang pictures inside, either. Tents are not meant for long-term, settled living; they’re only good for temporary stays, like at the lake, or in one’s back yard while on a dinosaur-hunting safari.

Houses are solid buildings meant to last. They are meant to be left for an inheritance  They are meant to be places where roots are dug deep and social identities are made. They are ideally meant to become permanent homes. Tents are for pilgrims.

Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom leads one to believe that the more sturdy a house is, the better the investment. Conventional wisdom says that a tent is not the kind of dwelling in which to raise a family and secure a future. But when we are talking about the wicked and the upright, conventional wisdom is worthless.

Conventional wisdom teaches that in order to have longevity and a solid future, one which will insure one’s name is passed on from generation to generation, one must be tied down to the world. It makes no sense, therefore, to rest at peace in a temporary dwelling, like a tent, which is what the word translated “tabernacle” means. But godly wisdom is anything but conventional.

Godly Wisdom

In this proverb the writer wants us to understand that in order to “flourish” and grow we must be pilgrims in this world, not “house builders.” The “house” of the wicked will never be as secure as the temporary “tabernacle” of the righteous.

The Apostle Paul said, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). Followers of Christ are “strangers and pilgrims” on this earth (Hebrews 11:13). The upright knows this world is not his final home, therefore he is always ready to pull up stakes and move.

Storm Shelters

If you have every been in a severe storm, you understand the value of a storm shelter. Storm shelters are meant to be ultra-strong and immovable. But when it comes to the teaching of this proverb, the opposite is true. When it comes to the storms of life, the one that will be overthrown is the one who is tied down to the world. The pilgrim living in a tabernacle (tent) will not be swept away, but “flourish.”

When the worst weather of life comes, it is better to dwell in the flimsiest, most temporary structure built by God, than in the strongest, most secure castle built by man.


Swift to Mischief

Proverbs 6:18b

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,”
Thinking of Nugget

I was sitting and thinking about the above verse, the one about “swift feet” running to mischief, and one thing came to mind – our little dog, Nugget.

Nugget is a little Chorkie (Chihuahua/Yorkie) with a desire to run, and run, and run. Not only does he like to run, but he likes to run away! Any time he can get out of the house without a leash, Katie bar the door (which is ironic, because if Katie had barred the door, he wouldn’t have gotten out).

Normally, when we let Nug out on a long string, even though he has 50 ft., it’s not enough. As a matter of fact, he could run all over our front yard, but he doesn’t. Usually, he just looks sad and depressed. He knows what lies just out of reach – freedom.

“I’m Free!”

When Nugget gets loose, his little feet turn into a blur as he tears up the grass. Like a little streak of furry lightning he takes off for the back yard, to the same place, right where there’s a hole in the neighbor’s fence. Believe me, he knows he’s not supposed to go out of our yard, but the temptation to play with bigger dogs is too much.

When he does get loose, a tiny smile becomes visible, exposing his tiny little underbite, as his feet run swiftly to mischief. Freedom from restraint causes him to bark, “I’m free!” as I begin to chase him through the neighborhood (in our car).

Yard Dogs

My dad used to have a saying. Whenever he talked about people who had no moral restraint, especially in the area of promiscuity, he would say, “They’re no different than a bunch of yard dogs.” In his mind he equated people who run to sin with dogs having no restraint, no morals, and an animalistic desire to fulfill the flesh.

Surely the above verse applies to those who, like Nugget, like a dog, are immediately drawn to cross every boundary. Like “yard dogs,” people with feet that are “swift in running to mischief” do so no matter how much the Master calls. Is it any wonder why He gets disgusted?

“I’m Constrained”

The difference between an unbeliever who runs to evil, and a Christian who doesn’t, can be found in the words of the Apostle Paul: “the love of Christ constrains me” (2 Cor. 5:14).

When a person truly makes Jesus Christ Lord of his life, he no longer needs to be tied down by external restraints. He doesn’t need a leash around his neck – there’s a leash in his heart (Jer. 31:33). The Christian, reflecting upon the manifested love of Christ (1 John 4:9), keeps his feet planted on righteous soil.

When the big dogs call; when there’s a hole in the fence; when we are tempted to run to mischief; the love of God within our hearts cries, “I’m constrained! I’m constrained!” Without a leash, we play with our Master in fields of grace.

He loves that.


Run Away! Run Away!

Proverbs 5:7-9

7 Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. 8 Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: 9 Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel.”

Mean Cat

My grandmother used to have a mean cat. This cat was an absolutely anti-social, psychotic, frenetic feline. One couldn’t get near her without getting hissed at, and that just made us want to aggravate it more.

I know it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do when we were young, but we would love to try to tease the cat without getting bit. Fortunately, the monster had been declawed; however, her piercing fangs remained. If we got too close she could leave a couple of bloody reminders that she still had a mouth. Playing with her was playing with danger. That’s why it was fun.

Temptation

It’s really all about temptation, isn’t it? Solomon knew that if you play with sin, or get too close, you will get bit, and it will hurt.

Jesus knew something about temptation, also. He said, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Maybe that’s why the Apostle Paul warned Timothy to “flee” from “youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22). Lust tends to make us buy things we can’t afford.

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” – James 1:14-15

Flirting

Many times we like to get just close enough to the forbidden fruit that we can smell it. No, we know we shouldn’t take a bite, but the aroma gives us a little thrill. Flirting with the wrong woman is nothing more than trying to sin a little. But a little sin is still a sin.

In reality, if we know where temptation lives, why would we want to drive by? Do we secretly long for what we know will harm us? If we have lust in our hearts, then the answer is “yes.” As James said, we are only tempted when we are drawn away by our own lusts. Flirting is dangerous.

Giving it Away

The consequences of sin are never worth the temporary fun. In this case, Solomon warns that the price is one’s honor and freedom. When a young man enters the “strange” woman’s door, the result is usually shame that rarely goes away.

On top of that, there’s the wasted time – time that could have been spent building a loving relationship. Instead, all your energy, your emotions, your wealth, and your health is squandered on a user of men.

“Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.” – Rom. 6:12-13 NLT

Final Thought

My son, the next time you feel drawn to a “strange” woman, remember the words of King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail….

“RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!”