Tag Archives: faith

What Are You Listening To?

Proverbs 17:4

“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” (KJV).

Be Careful What You Hear:

There is an old Sunday school song that says, “Oh be careful little ears what you hear!” It’s a fun song, but it also promotes a very Biblical principle. Jesus Himself said, “Therefore take heed how you hear.” (Luke 8:18a). To take heed means to be careful. We need to be careful what we choose to listen to! Words are powerful, and words can either bring life or death into people’s lives.

In today’s Scripture, Solomon gives us warnings about two different kinds of people: Wicked people, and liars. He tells us that a wicked person will give heed – or listen – to false lips, and a liar will give ear – or listen – to a naughty (malicious, spiteful, destructive) tongue. We know that as Christians, God doesn’t want us to be a wicked person or a liar. Therefore, we would be wise to not listen to false lips or naughty tongues.

False Lips and Naughty Tongues:

There are many false lips and naughty tongues in the world today. Wicked people and liars will use their lips and tongues to tell lies, slander people, gossip about others, and stir up strife and disunity – in families, churches, and indeed all relationships. Therefore, we must be on our guard against such people! It’s sad to say that you can even find those people… in the church. As a pastor, I can tell you that there is nothing more dangerous or harmful in a church than people who will stir up strife and division through their negative words!

So what do we do when we find ourselves surrounded by people with false lips and naughty tongues? We can’t just go and bury our heads in the sand or move into a monastery, can we? Of course not. However, we must still guard our hearts from such negative words. Elsewhere in Proverbs, Solomon gives us this warning: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). (Click HERE to read Jason’s devotional about this Scripture). Our ears and eyes are the windows to the heart, so we must be careful what we put into them.

How to Guard the Heart:

How can we keep our heart from being affected by hearing negative words – lying, strife, gossip, slander and more? First of all, make a decision that you will not allow your heart to be a garbage can for other people’s negative words. The next time someone starts gossiping to you, or talking negatively about someone else, refuse to listen to it. (And remember this – if someone will gossip to you, they will gossip about you! This is not the kind of friend you need…). And secondly, make a decision that you will watch your words, and make sure that no negative speech comes out of your mouth. Use your words to bring life to people!

Here’s a link to a youtube video of the old Sunday school song Oh Be Careful Little Eyes:

 


It’s a Trap!

Proverbs 16:28.

“A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.”

The danger of strife:

In an earlier passage in Proverbs, Solomon describes seven things that the Lord hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). It’s interesting to note that three of those seven have to deal with sins of the mouth – a lying tongue, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord. As we are working on building healthy relationships, God warns us about one of the deadliest traps to avoid: strife.

Solomon tells us that strife comes from a froward, or a perverse, person. A godly man on the other hand will not stir up strife. Strife is so deadly that it can even separate the best of friends. It is very dangerous to cause strife, by gossiping about and slandering another person. Proverbs 6:15 warns us about the consequences about being a person who sows discord: “But they will be destroyed suddenly, broken beyond all hope of healing.” We must be ever-vigilant to guard against strife. Proverbs also warns us: “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.” (Prov. 17:14). “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.” (Prov. 26:20). Want to stop the deadly fire of strife? Stop gossiping!

The importance of unity:

In one of my favourite Psalms, David shows us why strife is so dangerous by talking about its opposite: unity: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious anointing oil… For there the Lord commanded the blessing– Life forevermore.” (Psalm 133). Here, David teaches us that unity is good, and that when we walk in unity with one another, God’s presence is there (symbolized by the anointing oil), His blessing is there, and eternal life – salvation – is found there. Is unity important? Absolutely.

As a pastor, when I work with a team of leaders, one of the most important principles I try to instill in them is an understanding of the importance of unity. If a leadership team (or a church, or a family – the principle works anywhere) walks in unity, they will experience God’s blessing. But once we allow strife to come in, it can destroy any team, church or family. It is one of Satan’s greatest weapons – it’s a trap! If God blesses unity, then the enemy will do whatever he can to stir up strife.

How to guard the unity:

How do we walk in unity? First of all, realize that offenses are going to happen. People are going to do things to hurt you, but you don’t have to pick up that hurt or offense. Choose to forgive. And if you have a problem with someone, go and talk to them about it, instead of talking to someone else about it. Guard the unity, keep out the strife, and you will walk in God’s blessing!


Common Sense

Proverbs 16:7

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Common Sense

Some things make perfect sense. Some things are so sensible that everyone agrees, hence the term “common sense.” However, there are some things that people find hard to understand, even though anyone with common sense would think it makes perfect sense.

Today’s proverb should be a no-brainer.

Pleasing Ways

Are you familiar with the Ten Commandments? I’m not talking about the movie with Charleton Heston, just the Commandments themselves.

If you haven’t read them in a while, why don’t we refresh ourselves with a few of them?

  • Don’t steal
  • Don’t murder
  • Don’t commit adultery
  • Don’t lie about your neighbor
  • Honor your father and mother
  • Don’t sit around desiring what’s not yours

If you want to live in such a way (ethically speaking) that will please the Lord, the above list is a good place to start, wouldn’t you think? What is more pleasing than not stealing, not murdering, not lying, not envying, etc.?

Peaceful Enemies

Believe it or not, doing what pleases the Lord (like not committing murder, not stealing from your employer, or not sleeping with your boss’s wife) is actually a good way to get ahead in the world. Common sense, wouldn’t you think?

I have worked with many atheists and agnostics, some of which hated what I believed, but none of them ever fired me for being a bad employee. Most gave high recommendations to my next employer. In one sense they were my “enemies,” but all in all they were peaceful. Why? Because my ways pleased the Lord.

Nonsense

What I found totally nonsensical was a story relating to the Ten Commandments being posted in a public school. I can’t remember where this exactly took place, but I do remember the reason the lawyers gave for removing the list from view…

“If the Ten Commandments are allowed to remain, then children will be tempted to do what they say.”

So my question is this: which is more pleasing, NOT committing murder, or gunning down kindergartners and teachers? Seems pretty simple, but I guess there is a shortage of common sense these days.

 


Who’s the Boss?

Proverbs 16:3

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (KJV). 

The Secret to Success:

What is the secret to success? The world tells us that we just need to “be positive, focus, be persistent and work hard!” Is that all it takes? Or is there something else that we can do if we want to do well in life? Eugene Peterson paraphrases today’s Scripture with these words: “Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.” (The Message).

Here are two important keys from the Scriptures that will help your plans to come to pass:

  1. Delight Yourself in the Lord:

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” If we want our thoughts to be established, and see our goals accomplished, the first thing we should do is spend time with God, and ask Him what His plans for our lives are. Too many Christians come up with their own ideas and plans and go to God and say, “Lord, will you bless my plans?” But those plans are not always His will for our lives, and so He may not bless them.

One of my favourite comic strips characters Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes went to his dad and said, “Will you buy me a flame thrower?” His response was, “No.” Does that mean that his dad didn’t love him? Of course not! But he knew his son well enough to know that if he gave into his request, it would have disastrous consequences. So, if we want to see our thoughts established, we must first spend time with the Lord and ask Him what He wants us to do.

This is one of the reasons why the ministry of Jesus was so successful. He only did what the Father told Him to do! Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.” (John 5:19). I was in ministry for several years before I learned this important principle: Instead of going to God with my plans and saying, “Would you bless them?” I now go to God and say, “What’s your plan for today, Father?”

  1. Walk in Obedience:

If we want God to see our plans succeed, we need to walk in obedience to the Lord. The first part of that is obedience to the general will of God as recorded in the Scriptures. James 1:25 says, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” The second part is obedience to the specific will of God for our lives, which is revealed to us in prayer. God has blessed us to be a blessing – who does He want you to bless today?

What is God calling you to do? Do it and it will be blessed!

Calvin & Hobbes - flame thrower

(Calvin & Hobbes (c) 2013 Bill Waterson).


Purposes Established!

Proverbs 15:22

“Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” (KJV). 

I love the Bible, and especially the book of Proverbs! There is so much practical wisdom for daily living in God’s Word. Someone described the Bible once using this acrostic: B.I.B.L.E. = Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. If the God who created the universe wrote a book, a detailed instruction manual for living life, then we would be wise to heed its advice.

In the above Scripture, Solomon tells us that there are many people who purpose or plan to do things but they are disappointed because of a lack of counsel. However, he says that there is wisdom in the multitude of counsellors. In other words, if you are trying to do something, don’t be so prideful that you try to do it yourself – get help! Seek wisdom and advice from others.

Towards the end of 2009, I had a dream to write a book. However, I had never written a book before. Sure, I had transcribed sermons and put together short little booklets and devotionals for our church family, but I had never written or published a full length book before. So, the first thing I did was I started talking to people. I got advice from writing buddies – from Wendy Neudorf, who is also a writer and blogger, who helped me edit my manuscript, to Nichole Forbes, my wife’s cousin who is also a writer and blogger. From their advice and that of many others – including words of wisdom I found in books and online blogs on writing – I began the task of writing a book.

In June of 2010, I published my first book – Supernatural: Contending for Signs and Wonders Today. I don’t believe my dream would have ever been fulfilled, nor would it have been as good as it was, without the advice and feedback from many wise and good friends.

As I pastor, I seek God’s wisdom and guidance on a regular basis concerning the mission and vision of our church family. I am so thankful for a great team of leaders that speak into my life and help me to make wise decisions concerning God’s church. I have our elders who pray together with me to discern God’s direction, and a church council who help me make decisions concerning our church finances and building use. It’s so true that there is wisdom in a multitude of counsellors! On our own, we have blind spots, weaknesses, and lack knowledge and experiences, and can greatly benefit from the wisdom and input of others.

The New Living Translation of the above Scripture says: “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors bring success.” Do you have a dream for your life, a goal or a plan that you want to accomplish? Talk to people about it. Get wisdom and counsel from people, from books, and of course ultimately from the Bible. Do this and you will see your purposes established!


Don’t Try to Hide

Proverbs 15:11

“Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?”

“Full-Body Scanners”

Not long ago airports around the world introduced the use of “full-body scanners.” These machines have the ability to expose what is beneath a person’s clothing, with expose being the operative word.

Airline passengers used to be subject, in extreme cases, to strip searches. When deemed necessary  a security person might ask a potential passenger to undress in order to prove no form of weaponry was present, such as a knife or hand gun. Now, with the use of this new technology, all people boarding aircraft are forced to walk through a scanner that shows a naked picture (in black and white) to security personnel.

1117-AIMAGING-TSA-screenings-airports-Patdowns_full_600Many men and women object to the use of the “full-body scanner,” and for good reason. Ordinary, law-abiding folk are being forced into virtual strip searches and they don’t like it. In some cases security personnel have actually kept the nude images, which adds to the degrading sleaziness of the whole matter. Even though “full-body scanners” may prove useful, normal people enjoy their privacy and don’t like getting naked in front of strangers.

God Sees All

Privacy is the last thing we should expect with God. As a matter of fact, even the deepest, darkest secrets we keep are fully exposed to His ever-watchful, all-seeing eye.

Anyone can avoid being exposed by a “full-body scanner” by staying away from airports. But when it comes to God, there is nowhere anyone can hide, not even hell.

Today’s proverb states that the “hell and destruction” (sheol and abaddon), the place of the dead and hell itself, are in full view of the Lord. Not even the most advanced microwave scanner can peer beyond this realm into the world of the dead, but God can see every corner of the abyss. Solomon says, “If hell is fully exposed before God, what make you think you can keep anything from Him?”

Don’t Lie to God

Sometimes people walking into airports may forget they brought a little item like a pocket knife. They try to hide it and deny they are carrying anything prohibited, but then the scanner shows the truth. What follows is not pleasant. How much more should we be honest with our Creator?

Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned,” yet so many want to deny it. They think they can hide the lust, hatred, greed, and envy. They think a thick coat can cover their bitterness and betrayal. What they fail to realize is that God can see beneath the human shell and straight into the heart.

My advice? Before you take that final flight into the great beyond, admit what you are carrying, hand it over, and accept the free ticket to eternal life. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Otherwise, the place where violators go is far worse than anything airport security can dish out.


Sacri-nice

Proverbs 15:8

“The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”

What God Wants…

God hates the sacrifice of the wicked, but he isn’t to keen on the sacrifice of the righteous either, especially when it becomes the be all and end all. Countless times in the Bible God makes the point that He isn’t interested in sacrifices, the idea of coming and making a payment for your transgressions. No, what He is interested in is your behavior, how you will respond to His grace and forgiveness in your own life, and how that will inspire you to treat others.

Inspired by?

In Matthew 18 we see the story of a servant who owes his master a huge amount of money. He’s panicking, how will he pay this back? What will happen to his family? He goes before the master and begs for more time, and incredibly the master let’s him off. Scot free. Let’s not miss the huge significance of this – this is truly incredible and as counter cultural now as it was then.

I sometimes watch Undercover Boss, now I am not naive I know it’s probably scripted, but I can’t help but be moved when some big CEO enters the life of a low level employee, sees their struggles and their debt, and does something about it. What we never see is how this affects the person in question. They seem very grateful in the moment, but we never see the lasting change.

Not so with this servant. The Bible tells us that straight away he went looking for another servant who owed him a considerably smaller amount. We’d be entitled to think that he had in mind to set this servant free from his debt, to share the grace he had experienced. But in fact all he wants is the money owed to him. How sad that this servant was even more enslaved to money than he originally thought.

Washing feet

At the opposite end of the spectrum we find Jesus. Jesus the entirety of God squeezed into man form, denying His deity to inspire humanity, relying fully on the Father to further the future of the broken. We all know Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, we all know this should blow our tiny minds, but I’ll be honest it was just one of those things I accepted, until I reread the account and came to these verses in John 13:3-5 ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.’ 

Why did Jesus do this? BECAUSE He knew who he was. Because He wanted to show the world a powerful image of what happens when we take the lowest place.

Prayer

All very good and well you may say but how’s this connected to the proverb? Prayer changes everything. If you want to be a person who shares grace rather than shrugs grace then you need to start on your knees.