Tag Archives: Bible

Trapped or Rejoicing?

Proverbs 29:6.

“In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.” (KJV).
“Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.” (NLT). 

Of Monkeys and Bananas:

When I was a youth pastor in Surrey, BC, I hosted True Love Waits teenage abstinence seminars for young people. Over the course of several years (from 1999-2004), we saw around 900 teenagers and young adults make pledges to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. In one such event, we invited Dave Koop, the lead pastor of Coastal Church in Vancouver, to speak at the opening session of the weekend event. To this day, I’ve never forgotten this powerful story.

In Africa, they have an interesting method of capturing monkeys in their jungles. They will take a container with a narrow opening in it, and place a banana (or some other sort of sweet-smelling fruit or nuts), and place it in the bottom of the container. Then the hunters hide in the bushes and wait for the monkeys. When the monkey comes to check out the container, he reaches in his little monkey hands and grasps the banana. However, when he goes to take out his hand, which is now closed in a fist around the fruit, he can no longer get it out of the container. Out jump the hunters and club the monkey to death.

The sad part of the story is that at any time, the monkey could drop the banana and take its hand out of the container, but it won’t. And the result is it is trapped. And then it dies.This is Solomon’s Proverb in action: Evil people are trapped by sin.” Sin is a trap that is very difficult to get out of – on our own.

The Joy of Freedom:

Thank God though for the second part of that verse: “but the righteous escape, shouting for joy!” Even though sin is a trap that is difficult for us to escape, the Bible teaches us that Jesus came to save His people from their sins. In the very first sermon Jesus ever preached, He quoted the prophet Isaiah and said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives.” (Luke 4:18). Jesus wants to set us free – not only from the guilt and penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin.

My favourite Christian author, the 19th century Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, told this story that illustrates today’s Proverb well: I remember my old friend, Dr. Alexander Fletcher say to the children that when men came out of prison, they praised him who had set them free. He said that he was going down the Old Bailey one day and he saw a boy standing on his head, turning cartwheels, dancing and jumping about in all manner of ways, and he said to the boy, “What are you doing? You seem to be tremendously happy.” And the boy replied, “Ah, old gentleman, if you had been locked up six months and had just got out, you would be happy, too!”

If you are a Christian, then Jesus has set you free from the trap of sin. Our response? Rejoice!

cartwheel

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Rejoice or Mourn, but Don’t Settle

Proverbs 29:2

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”

‘Ocracies

It would seem like never before in the history of man has it been possible for atheists and all those antagonistic to Christianity, the Bible, faith, or whatever, to have their voices be heard. Of course, I may be wrong and even over-exaggerating a little, but thanks to the media and easy access to the internet, angry voices condemning leaders with morals are screaming from every direction.

This proverb should not be interpreted as saying, “Christians should be in authority everywhere!” No, the idea is more along the lines of promoting wise leadership, honest leadership, or simply men and women with integrity and moral fortitude. Yet, even when and if true Christians were to assume authority, very few would have any thoughts of promoting a “theocracy.” But listen to the atheists and you’d think that the “righteous” would start hanging unbelievers tomorrow, if they could.

The fact is that at it’s founding, when the most Christians (including deists) where in authority in America, that is when they founded a constitutional republic, NOT a theocracy.

Righteous Rule

When the righteous rule, the people rejoice. Why is that? Could it be that the people are treated fairly? The righteous wouldn’t take more than they need in taxes. The righteous wouldn’t lie about issues in order to get elected. The righteous would be responsible with resources. The righteous wouldn’t seek office to obtain power, but to serve others. The righteous wouldn’t compromise his beliefs, but he would work together with his fellow man in search of the common good.

Sadly, many in our society mourn when the righteous are considered for leadership. Many recoil at the thought of a man or woman with integrity, faith, and morals. They see these potential leaders as threats – not to freedom, but to unrestrained behavior.

Wicked Rule

Why do the people mourn when the wicked rule? Because the wicked think only of themselves; they care nothing about the people under their authority.

Do we have wicked leaders, or are our leaders righteous, looking out for all of us? Do those in authority serve, or do they accumulate power in order to manipulate the masses? The answer will be different and vary in intensity wherever you go, but this much is true: there are far fewer righteous leaders than wicked ones.

The Undecided

But then there are those who can’t decide whether to rejoice or mourn. They have been treated so poorly for so long that they have come to accept wicked leadership as the norm.

If you think otherwise, just consider the following defense of President Obama by L.Z. Granderson on CNN:

“Now with president Obama, it is true, he should have been more forthright with how the Affordable Care Act was going to impact the country. But with that being said, all Americans know politicians lie. The question is: which lies can you live with? And time and time again Americans have said, “We can deal with the lies that President Obama tells us, because we believe in his heart – he has the best interests for the American people. Every president’s gonna lie to you. Every politician is gonna lie to you. The question is: which lies can you live with?” – Source

Sounds more like when the wicked rule, the people give up caring. God help us.


Stop Hiding!

Proverbs 28:28.
“When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.” (KJV). 

When the Wicked Rise:

Our nation of Canada – much like our neighbour to the south, the United States – has a righteous heritage. Canada was founded on the principles of the Word of God. It started out as a Christian nation, but we fallen so far from that glorious foundation.

You have heard it said, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” What does that mean? Ever since God, the Bible, and prayer were removed from our schools, our nation has been plummeting into darkness. Rape, murder, child abuse, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, divorce, drug use, teen pregnancy and ever-increasing violent crimes are the results of removing the light of God’s Word from our schools and government. All because our nation as a whole has turned its back on God.

Today’s proverb tells us that when the wicked rise – in positions of power and authority – men hide themselves. Because of the wickedness that abounds in our nation, many good people have gone into hiding, afraid to stand up for what is right for fear of persecution. However, it’s time to take a stand for what is right, no matter how unpopular the truth of God’s Word becomes!

When the Wicked Perish:

Our proverb also says that when the wicked perish – or lose their positions of power and authority – then the righteous will increase. In numbers and in influence. Therefore, it behooves us to pray for our leaders! First Timothy 2:1-2 tells us, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” If we want to see righteousness exalted in our nation, it starts with prayer.

In the Canadian national anthem, we pray for Almighty God to keep our country glorious and free, and declare that we will stand on guard for Canada. Whatever nation you live in – whether it is Canada, the United States, somewhere in Great Britain, or another country – it is time to stand on guard for our nations. Let’s rise up and declare that we want God in our countries again!

Let us Pray:

God has given us a promise: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14). If we want to see God hear from Heaven, and forgive our sins, and heal our land, then we must humble ourselves, and pray, as students once did in public schools, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.”

Revive us, Lord! Amen.

Canada flag

 


Flattery or Favour?

Proverbs 28:23

“He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” (KJV).

Love Languages:

One of my favourite books is one called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. In this book, he talks about how people give and receive love in five main different ways: Words of affirmation, Acts of service, Receiving gifts, Quality time and Physical touch. It was a very practical, useful teaching because my wife and I have different love languages. Mine is words of affirmation, and hers is receiving gifts. The challenge came when I would want to communicate love with her, and I would use words of affirmation, but that didn’t translate well for her. When I discovered that her love language was receiving gifts, I found it much easier to communicate love to her in a way that she would understand it.

So my love language is words of affirmation. More than a gift, any act of service, time spent or physical touch, the best way to communicate love to me is through words. That’s why I may not get excited about a gift, but when someone sends me a card, letter or an e-mail with words of affirmation in it, I feel loved. However, there is a big difference between affirmation and flattery.

Affirmation or Flattery?

Have you ever had someone flatter you? Flattery is defined as “excessive, insincere praise.” As much as I enjoy genuine words of affirmation, there is nothing more annoying to me than fake words of flattery. And although I don’t like being rebuked or corrected either, I would rather have someone be honest with me and tell me what they really think.

Loving Rebuke:

If you really love someone, then when you see that they are getting off into trouble, or doing something that might hurt themselves or others, you will challenge and rebuke them. And believe me, I don’t enjoy this anymore than you do! I don’t like confrontation, but if I truly love my friends, then I need to be willing to bring rebuke or correction when they need it. They may not like it initially, but as Solomon says, “He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favour.”

Matthew Henry describes this well in his excellent Bible commentary: “He that cries out against his surgeon for hurting him when he is searching his wound will yet pay him well, and thank him too, when he has cured it.”

If a friend brings you a rebuke or a criticism about your behaviour, do a quick search and see if there’s anything to what they have to say. And, if what they are saying is true, humbly be quick to repent and change your behaviour. Then make sure you thank your friend for their loving concern for you and your well-being. If you see one of your friends getting off into trouble, make sure you speak the truth in love to them as well, and when you do, you can rest assured that sooner or later you will find their favour. They will appreciate your honesty!


Work Hard

Proverbs 28:19

“He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.” (KJV).
“Hard workers have plenty of food; playing around brings poverty.” (NLT).

Common Sense:

Sometimes when I’m reading my Bible I think, “Duh! That’s just common sense!” For example, there is a Proverb that says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (18:24). Of course – that makes total sense. If you’re not friendly – if you’re rough and gruff, rude and crude, you’re not going to attract many friends. But if you are friendly – loving, kind and patient – then you are going to make more friends. It’s so simple – how do we miss it?

Playing Around:

In today’s Proverb, Solomon wisely declares, “He that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.” What is a vain person? That word vain means empty, vain, idle or ethically worthless. Translation? If you’ll excuse my use of a common slang term: A lazy bum. If you hang around with vain, idle or lazy people – playing around – it will lead to poverty. How many times in this wisdom book have we discovered that we become like those we most closely associate with. Walk with the wise and you will become wise. Sit with the lazy, and it will lead to poverty and ruin.

I know of a man who has a hard time keeping a job. For whatever reason, he changes jobs multiple times a year. Whether he just gets bored, or doesn’t like the job anymore, I’m not sure. But it never fails, I keep hearing about how he’s quit his job and is looking for work. More often than not, he is between jobs. Not surprisingly, his son is exactly the same way. Can’t keep a job. Won’t keep a job. Often unemployed. Like father, sadly like son.

Working Hard:

On the other hand, those who till their land – and work hard – will have plenty of food. Those with a strong work ethic, their needs will be taken care of. When we work heartily as unto the Lord, God will bless that.

I got my first job at the age of 16 working at a McDonald’s. The fall after I graduated from high school, I got a job working at a Zellers store at the mall, and for the past 23 years, I have always had a job. There are always jobs available, if someone is willing to work! It might not always be the job you want, but if you want to work, someone is always hiring.

Lord, teach us the value of working hard, and being diligent stewards of all of the resources that you give to us. Help us to look to you as our provider, and trust you to meet all of our needs. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.


How Are You Walking?

Proverbs 28:18

“Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.”
“Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.” ESV

Not What You Might Think

The first part of this proverb could give the wrong impression if one’s not careful. It reads, “Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved.” However, this is not talking about a “works salvation,” as some would content. Our “walk” does not save us; only the grace of God through faith in Christ.

The second part of this proverb could also be misread or misunderstood, thereby making it seem like God’s word is untrue. At first glance it may seem that anyone who does wrong will immediately suffer the consequences, which we all know may or may not happen.

The promise and warning of this proverb has more to do with the moment that will eventually come – the moment in which one’s walk will determine the outcome.

Persistence and Faithfulness

Be persistent in your walk, dear friend. Remain faithful, even when the way is hard. When the time comes, you will be grateful for the trials you went through and the obstacles you overcame.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:9

Stay on the “straight and narrow” and trust God to deliver you in the moment of testing or the hour of need. Let Him guide you and “direct your paths.”

A Sudden Fall

When we walk “perversely” or “crooked,” never following the way lined with warning signs, we are only asking for trouble. The second part of this proverb warns us of such.

Some think that there is no God, that His word is useless, and that life should be lived without restraint. Others, the ones who watch the godless as they travel, often wonder why nothing bad ever happens. They may even get discouraged, thinking that they are missing out on all the fun, especially since there never seems to be any pits, traps, or snares in the way.

But God’s word IS true; there is pleasure in sin for a season (Heb. 11:25), but the ultimate end is death…a sudden fall. When the moment comes, it will come “at once,” possibly without warning, and without help from the God who’s direction was snubbed.


Lions and Bears

Proverbs 28:15

“As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.”
“A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a roaring lion or an attacking bear.” – NLT

Tyrants

Plenty of tyrants have no regard for their subjects. One only has to review the last one hundred years of history to come up with scores of individuals who preyed on the poor, helpless, defenseless masses; each one a mad, blood-thirsty animal.

“[They are] brutish, barbarous, and blood-thirsty; [they are] rather to be put among the beasts of prey, the wildest and most savage, than to be reckoned of that noble rank of beings whose glory is reason and humanity.”[1]

Lion

Lion (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Even worse are the kind that convince their victims that the carnage being inflicted is supposedly for their own good. As self-proclaimed kings of the beasts, they claim it is their right to thin the herd, to remove the weak, so the strong can survive. But they are only hungry animals, void of compassion, fulfilling their natural desires.

Tyrant Topplers

To many it would seem like lions and bears are unstoppable. To be sure, those who value life run in fear from them, or at the very least give them what they want whenever they growl. But lions and bears are not invincible.

“And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.” – 1 Samuel 17:34-35 KJV

Lest the tyrants become to smug and confident in their power, it would be wise of them to remember all it takes to topple them is nothing more than a little boy with a big God.


[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1018.