Tag Archives: Christian

No Servant, No Problem

Proverbs 12:9

“[He that is] despised, and hath a servant, [is] better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.”

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
    than pretend to be somebody and have no food. – NIV

Nobody Has a Servant!

This proverb had me musing for a while. Not many people I know have servants these days, even the well known ones. But digging a bit deeper and flicking across the translations we find a few varieties. The essence remains the same, and ends up sounding a bit like “count your blessings.”

What do You Have?

When Moses first got acquainted with God it’s safe to say old Mo’ was a bit insecure. God reminds him of a few things and then asks Moses what he has in his hand. Moses looks and sees his staff. Nothing special there he thinks, after all it’s just a tool I use everyday. But maybe that’s the point?

We think so much about what we don’t have, about the ways we could be blessed, that we miss the obvious – the ways we have already been blessed.

The Pretender

And then we fall into the trap revealed in the second part of the proverb – we start to pretend. Pretend we are more than we are, we have more than we are, we like what we don’t, we value what we despise, but yet what we actually have is nothing.

Lord, help us to look not to what we don’t have, but instead to the things You have already given us, and in doing so give glory and gratitude to You. 

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Roots of Faith

Proverbs 12:3 

“A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.”
Uprooted

Over the last several years there have been a lot of storms come through where I live. Many of those storms produced very strong winds, even tornadoes.

I hate tornadoes.

But when I look at this proverb, there comes to mind mental images of trees uprooted and blown over, smashing houses, cars, etc. And when I think of those trees, I can remember what they looked like lying on the ground. Huge trees with roots that spread out in every direction – except down.

Trees

When we think of trees, we think of strong, healthy plants that grow tall and impressive. They are symbols of stability. They almost always win when challenged by automobiles, woodpeckers, or lovers with initials to carve.

The wicked and the righteous are both trees; both have leaves, and both have roots. But only one has roots that run deeper than the surface. Only one can stand in a storm.

Roots

The roots of a tree primarily do two things: they bring nourishment from the ground and tie it to the ground. Without roots a tree would die. Without deep roots, a tree could could be toppled by a strong wind.

But strong winds aren’t the only danger trees face; drought can kill a tree with shallow roots. Yet, if a tree has deep roots, it can find the water it needs to survive.  Maybe you will remember the following verse…

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” – Psa. 1:3

Established

But we are not trees, are we? We are people. We don’t have roots; we have faith.

The deeper our root system, the less likely we are to fall over when the storms of life come our way, or when there seems to be little rain of hope.

Wickedness will not produce roots that will hold. Wickedness produces roots that grow outward and just below the surface. They bring in everything needed to grow a beautiful, leafy tree, just not one that can hold on in a gale. Nor can they soak up water from the dry soil when the blessings of God seem to be withheld.

On the other hand, righteousness goes deep and anchors the believer to the solid ground. The roots of faith find refreshment from hidden sources of hope.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. – Jer. 17:7-8 NKJV

How are your roots?


Better Fruit

Proverbs 8:18-19

“Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.”
A Tear

As I was reaching up to type these words, I wiped a tear from the table in front of me. The odd thing about it was that I had to stop and think what it was. Evidently, it had been a while since I last saw one drop.

I am sure there will be more. And really, that’s a good thing.

Tears are valuable. They teach what happiness and indulgence never can. They teach us that we are weak, that we break, and that we are incapable of fixing everything, if anything.

They tell us we’re dependent on God. And really, that’s a good thing.

A Better Fruit

To many, a fallen tear on one’s table is nothing more than a drop of water. However, to the Christian, the one who loves Wisdom, it is a glistening jewel-like seed, the fruit of which far surpasses the earnings of any other investment.

The “durable riches and righteousness” of wisdom are far better than the rarest currencies on Earth. What grows from the tears of a humble heart cannot be purchased with all the money in the world.

“Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.”

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Rev 21:4

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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.

UPDATE: Nugget disappeared in August of 2017. He is still greatly missed by all. 


Ornamental Wisdom

Proverbs 1:8-9

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they [shall be] an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

Parents

It is interesting that verse eight of Proverbs 1 includes reference to both a father and a mother. Not one or the other, but both. Solomon in his wisdom knew that balance was required, and that a family requires two parents to provide guidance and instruction to children. This is what God intended from the beginning (Genesis 2:24).

Going to school in the 1960s just one of my classmates did not have two parents. The reason he grew up with only a father was that his mother died giving birth to his sister. Fast forward to now and many children can rely on only one parent, even in Christian circles. While many single parents do a magnificent job, it was not God’s intention for a family to consist of one parent.

Ornament of Grace

Although verse eight appears to be directed at the young, there is a significant challenge to parents in verse nine. Initially any new parent is likely to be more overwhelmed by the gift of the child, rather than by the challenge of parenting that lies ahead. The challenge and the responsibilities are clearly defined in the prose of these verses. The instruction of a father and the law of a mother are to be an ornament of grace around the head of a child and chains around his neck.

The Hebrew word used for grace also translates as kindness and beauty, something precious to be attached like an ornament or a necklace. And that is a challenge. Do we consistently parent with grace, with kindness? Can our children respect us sufficiently to learn from our instruction? It is important that they can and do.

What do your children see in you?


Trying Not To Be Fools With His Words

Many readers of Proverbial Thought may enjoy the thoughts we share each day.

Maybe you do not understand some our thought process.

I for one do enjoy writing out these devotional thoughts for others to enjoy, but it weighs heavy on my heart.

For starters, read Proverbs 26. It will only take a few minutes. What really strikes me is the number of verses about the wastefulness, follies, and even dangers of fools speaking proverbs.

We are basically putting it put there that we are responsible for affecting the way people think!

In fact, when I was a new believer of Jesus Christ, I knew I should “do my part” and read at least something in the Bible. I chose James, for “not being too long and possibly boring me, nor too short and making me look lazy.”

Ouch. This was the first thing that stood out to me (in my NIV Bible at the time):

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1

I understood that to teach others means I would be scrutinized myself, both by other people and by God.

That terrified little 16-year-old me! (Even at six feet tall at that time …)

Honestly, it should be intimidating to all of us.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

God has an expectation. If you teach others about the Word of God – which all believers should in some way – you are expected to know what it says and how to explain it adequately.

This is the struggle we deal with every day for Proverbial Thought, and for many of us, who are pastors and ministry leaders, as a daily concern.

Therefore, we write to help others (you, dear reader!) to be better equipped to share your faith, even if mostly about the Proverbs.

If you are a follower of the Lord, you should be able to share the reason for your faith. Use any tool available to you to grow, starting with regular Bible study, researching what others have said, and meeting with fellow believers (by going to church, attending Bible studies, meeting together just to talk, and serving togwther).

Hopefully, we have played a role in your growth and not written foolishly.


How to Find Joy

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.
Proverbs 14:10, KJV

A well-known (to this site) pastor recently wrote about the struggles pastors face. Pastors have such a weight they carry that can lead to bitterness that many other people may never understand.

Remember: we pastors hear everyone’s struggles, hurts, wrongs, and sins. We deal with the issues of everyday life for most people we know.

It is easy to see all that is wrong with the world when dealing with everyone else’s issues.

Intermeddling Joy?

The plus side, though, is that most people never feel the joy of seeing God work in those issues, seeing lives change, problems redeemed, and grace and love shine through hurt people.

You may have struggles and pains.

You may know your sin better than anyone, how it affects everything you do.

But if you want real joy, trust God to use you to help another. They may never know how blessed you are by their success over sin and pain, but you will find that joy that only comes from the Lord.

Choose joy by overcoming bitterness. Your own and others’.