Tag Archives: Church

Rejoicing or Hiding

Proverbs 28:12
When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.”

Most people in our world understand what this verse is saying.

There are people in Third World countries who hide from terrorists, tyrants, and warlords who steal from, maim, kill, or worse the people in their nations or allow others to do so.

We have the past century of history with the likes of Hitler, Stalin and Lenin, and Kim, who have ruled over their empires, nations, or blocs with the iron fist of communism, suppressing freedoms and dissent from the status quo.

When someone comes along who helps relieve or end the suffering of the average person, the average person wants to celebrate.

… Or in the Workplace …

When you work with a horrible boss, it becomes easier to just duck your head down and get your work done. You hide in your work to avoid confrontation. Or you quit.

When your boss is a joy to work with, you enjoy going to work.

… Or at Home …

When you have a spouse that complains about everything or is abusive, you might hide in your work, hide with your friends, or hide in a hobby.

When you have a spouse who is loving and caring, you enjoy being with your spouse.

… Or at Church …

When your church is less of a family and more of a gossip-factory or, strangely, a pep-rally of moralism or “your best life now”, you may find that you want to hide behind a smile than confess your short-comings, failures, and sins.

When your church is a family that holds you accountable to God’s Word with love and compassion, you rejoice in the freedom offered through Christ’s sacrifice and forgiveness. You rejoice in the family of God.

Lord, give us strength and wisdom when we face wickedness in power, and help us to find support and strength through Your children in the Church.

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No More the Fool

Proverbs 26:5

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation. (NLT)

Back in 1978 when I was second mate on a 100,000 ton bulk carrier we had a first-trip engineering cadet who quickly gained the nickname ‘village idiot’. The problem was that while everyone on the ship recognized that this lad wasn’t blessed with significant brainpower, he thought he that was. The other problem is that idiots are not easily tolerated on ships.

To be fair, most first trippers begin their careers as idiots. I did. There is so much to learn. The key is being willing to learn. A superiority complex never goes down well on a ship, but a first trip cadet with a superiority complex is quite intolerable. Inevitably life becomes intolerable for the intolerable one as he or she is brought down to size. It would be foolish to allow a foolish seafarer to become wise in his own eyes, but also potentially dangerous given the working environment on board ship.

Solomon was spot on with his advice. It is important to let a fool know that he is a fool. Fail to do so and the fool will believe that he knows better than everyone else. Lack of experience combined with lack of wisdom might then have disastrous effects.

Challenging as it may seem this proverb speaks to everyone. It is important to know and understand our limitations and focus our energies on what we do best. This is particularly important in church where sometimes we place or find the wrong people in ministries where they simply do not belong. The out-of-tune choir member might make an excellent Sunday School teacher, but someone needs to identify this and gently guide the croaky crooner to the place where God can really use him. And that does call for wisdom.


Trouble’s Not My Friend

Proverbs 22:24-25

Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

Just Mad

At first glance it might seem like “angry” would be self-explanatory. We’ve all seen someone throw a tantrum. We’ve all gotten furious over something. There’s nothing unusual about losing one’s temper once in a while. But when Solomon advises us to stay away from an angry or furious man, he is not referring to a man who throws his popcorn when his favorite team loses the championship in the last second of the game. We’ve all done that…right?

No, this proverb is talking about people who are always angry, always furious, always upset over something. It’s a warning to stay away from people like that, unless, of course, you want to start acting just like them.

Contagious Anger

  • Women-haters. Hang around these guys very long and you’ll never find love. However, you could start a club.
  • Disgruntled employees. Talk about angry! They make the water in the water cooler boil. Unfortunately, those who listen to them too long tend to overlook the blessing of being employed and end up out of work.
  • Bitter wives and jilted lovers. Talk about furious! Hide all sharp objects and weapons of any kind when you’re in their presence unless you want to get hurt. Better yet, don’t listen to them for too long or you might end up being  recruited to exact their revenge.
  • Political conspiracy theorists. They mean well, but they’re not well. They see grander schemes than actually exist and draw others into their paranoia.
  • Church gossips. They’re typically angry because things aren’t going their way. They look for ways to tear down others while they sap the joy and faith out of you. Before long you become one of them.

Why be like the angry and furious man? Is not God in control? Prolonged anger signifies a heart problem fueled by selfish demands, so is it worth a snare to the soul?

Avoid Trouble

The next time Mr. Trouble comes around looking for a companion, politely excuse yourself; he’s not your friend.

Rather, make Jesus your friend; He is gentle and lowly of heart. Instead of a snare, He will give rest to your soul (Matthew 11:29).


Do You Sing Your Lies?

Proverbs 12:22

“Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.”

Strong Words

God is very clear about how He feels about lying lips. Proverbs 6:16-19 gives us a list of seven things that God hates:

  • A proud look
  • A lying tongue
  • Hands that shed innocent blood
  • An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations
  • Feet that be swift in running to mischief
  • A false witness that speaketh lies
  • And he that soweth discord among brethren

If this list of things God hates is not bad enough for you, let me share with you another list. This list comes from Revelations 21:8 which says, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, AND ALL LIARS, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

These are some strong words coming from God! So then why do we not take lying more serious? Why do we (Christians) dismiss the little “white lies” and “half-truths” as something that is OK? 99% of the truth is a lie and God hates it!

Singing Our Lies

Since 1999, I have been the worship leader at my church. Many times I have stood on the stage and watched people sing lies. Yes, you heard me! I have watch people “sing” lies. For the record, I have been guilty of singing quite a few lies myself.

We all stand together in a church service and sing the beautiful song “I Surrender All”, with the words, “All to Jesus, I surrender; all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, in His presents daily live”. Then as soon as we get up out of our seat (or maybe even before the service is over) we begin to worry about how we are going to handle things. Or we go on living the lives that we want to have instead of the life that God wants for us!

We sing the song “You Are My King (Amazing Love)” knowing full well that we are the one calling most of the shots in our life.

A. W. Tozer once said, “Christians don’t tell lies they just go to church and sing them”.

These are lies and God hates them!

“Ratsown”

In the last part of this verse we see the word “delight”. The Greek word for delight is “ratsown”, which means “acceptance, pleasure, favor”. God is telling us that He takes pleasure, or finds favor in those who tell the truth. The New Living Translation of this verses puts it this way, “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in those who tell the truth.

Tell the truth and tell it right,
A lie will never do;
The Bible says that God is truth—
He wants the truth from you. —Branon

Lord, help us to be truthful with our words. Help us to understand just how much you despise lies! I pray that each and everyone of us would find favor in your sight by speaking the truth!


Be the Good Wife

Proverbs 12:4

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

Two Paths

I was engaged to be married once, before I met my wife.

The Ex

There were a lot of good qualities about my ex-fiancé, such as being intelligent, beautiful, and creative. She also had some qualities that were not so good, and we were not a good match.

During our relationship, we both walked dangerous paths. We drank a lot of alcohol, together and separately, much of the time. We got into smoking many things (all of the legal variety). We began “sleeping together” about half way through our relationship. We became bitter, even mean toward others and eventually ourselves.

That relationship wore me out: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I call much of our relationship “the time I should not have called myself a Christian,” because … well … read Galatians 5:19-21. My ex and I either considered or did almost everything on that list.

My Wife

When I met the woman who became my wife, we did things differently.

The relationship began with a promise of purity and a dedication to God. Even when we are angry with each other (yes, it happens in good relationships, too!) we still find good things to say to each other. (To be honest, our “fights” last mere moments, and our anger subsides in even less time … often instantly)

We lift each other up in prayer, worship God together, and find ourselves sacrificing in some way for the other on a regular basis … only to receive the greater blessing of joy and happiness, as we both enjoy much of the same things, anyway!

This may not be the exact picture of all strong couples, but there will always be similarities.

The Church

Now consider this: Jesus Christ has called the Church His Bride (As evidenced in Ephesians 5 and Revelation 21-22).

How do you treat the Husband?

Do you lift up and bless? Or, do you cause shame and bitterness?

O God, strengthen our relationships with love and grace. Give us the wisdom to know when a relationship is healthy or not. Guide us in all righteousness that we may bless You with our lives.

 

 


Be Humble, Don’t Fumble (11:2)

Proverbs 11:2

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

The simple message of this proverb is that the prideful person is more likely to get knocked down to size than the person who is already humble. Shame follows on the heels of pride, while wisdom is already with the humble.

A Story

I don’t know where the original story came from, but years ago my dad told me a story about a proud preacher. The young minister was confident in his abilities and his preparation. So, when asked to preach in a conference, the young man jumped at the opportunity, strutted up to the stage, and manned the pulpit.

It didn’t take long for the prideful young minister to realize he was blowing it. When he was finished, he slowly shuffled down the steps from the stage, head hung low, looking totally dejected. Then, feeling like a total failure, he sat down by an older, wiser man of God.

How do you think you did up there?” the older man asked.

I totally blew it,” the young preacher said. “I don’t know what happened. I knew the material, was prepared, and wasn’t even nervous.

Gently, the old pulpiteer asked, “So what you’re saying is that you went up there with your head held high, but came down with it hanging low, correct?

Yessir, that’s about it,” said the young man. “I don’t know what I could have done differently.

With a slight grin the old preacher looked at the younger and said, “If you’d went up there the way you came down, you’d have come down the way you went up.

You Down With That?

When some people ask if you understand something, they may say, “You down with that?” Ironically, in the case of this proverb, being “down” with it, or being “lowly,” is where wisdom can be found.

Do you understand what the old preacher was saying? He was only echoing Solomon in today’s proverb. Pride, cockiness, and self-assurance are not far ahead of shame, humiliation, and embarrassment. The wise, by being humble from the beginning, will rise in due time, and not in their own strength.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Don’t let pride cause you to fumble a scoring opportunity.


Eternal Wisdom

Proverbs 9:1-5 

“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.”

Made-Up or From Before

Many in our world today will try to tell you that truth is what you make it. Wisdom is understanding how your world works for you.

In other words, make it up as you go along! You are what you want to be!

In a sense, that last part is true. We have a tendency to get in our own way, because we do not believe we can do something we are able to do. Or we do not believe others can love us. Or we believe that God cannot forgive us for what we have done.

But we know this is not true, because the Bible tells us so. We read just a few days ago:

I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. – Proverbs 8:23

Wisdom, whom we have discussed is God and realized in Jesus Christ, was established in eternity. This means wisdom is not something we can just make work for us or discover in ourselves.

Built, Bread, and Wine

Jesus Christ proved His Godhood through the Resurrection and ascension. He has told us:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” – John 14:2-3 KJV

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” – Luke 22:19-20 KJV

The Moral

Jesus of Nazareth has built His house (the Church), has killed the “beasts” (sin and death), and sent out His call (the Great Commission).

To leave “simple ways,” seek understanding, turn from foolishness, and find wisdom is to find Jesus.

Father, thank You for revealing Your Son, Jesus Christ, to the world. Thank You for Your Wisdom and grace, as revealed through Your Holy Spirit. Thank you for preparing a place for us. Help us to cling tightly to our Lord, and help us to introduce Your Wisdom to the world through love, grace, forgiveness, gentleness, and humility, as Your Son did for us.

 

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