Tag Archives: Faithfulness

Liked, or Liked Less

Proverbs 11:16

“A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.”

To over-simplify things, there are two kind of people in this world: those whom are liked and those not liked as much. (To be fair, there tends to be a third group: the rest of us, we who seem to get by with little notice from most other people. We have our friends and co-workers, and that is about it.)

Gracious

The first person most people in our world think about when asked to name a person full of grace is Mother Teresa.

Many consider Mother Teresa to be one of the greatest women in history. She confessed hurts, pains, depressions, doubts, and weak faith.

Yet people still loved her … still love her to this day, even though she died in 1997.

Why?

She loved. She showed grace. She was devoted to serving others.

Rich

The first person most people in our world think about when asked to name a person who is rich is someone mentioned a couple of weeks ago: Donald Trump.

Many consider Donald Trump one of the wealthiest and most arrogant men in history. He has built a financial empire, built impressive buildings, hosted his own reality television series, and made a lot of money.

And many people can barely stand the guy.

Why?

He is blunt to a fault. He alienates others for the sake of profit. He is devoted to the bottom line.

Us

As mentioned above, most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

The downside is that we can fall into the trap of chasing something so hard that we alienate others and miss God. We end up with … nothing.

The plus side is that we can be like Mother Teresa. If we pursue God wholeheartedly, if we are desperate for His glory, we, too, can be known as people of grace remembered for our love.

The choice is ours.

The choice is yours.

Great God, give us Your grace. Fill us with Your love. Create in us a passion for Your glory, that we may not finish this race empty-handed and hated.


Irritating Sluggards

Proverbs 10:26

“As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.”

Dressings and Fire

I am a great fan of sauces and dressings. I used to be one who drowned everything in them.

My two favorite dressings are Catalina (like French) and Honey Mustard (not all, as some are just not good). Immediately after those are vinegar based dressings: Italian, various vinaigrettes, a family recipe affectionately called Dad’s Dressing, a good Balsamic, etcetera.

I also enjoy sitting by a good fire (though not to close, as I am a warm person generally). I enjoy the sight of the flames licking at wood and coals, the sound of the crackling and hissing as the fibers are pulled apart in the heat, and the smell of the freshly carbon-ated air (get it?).

I also enjoy the fellowship to be had over a good meal and around a good fire.

The downside is that too much vinegar starts to irritate my teeth and stomach. The downside is that sometimes the wind changes direction, and I have smoke in my eyes, burning and irritating.

Irritating

Have you ever had to work along side another person who will not work?

In 2002 I worked at a McDonald’s with a man who bragged about everything.  He wrote some songs for Scott Stapp of the band Creed; he boasted of his girlfriend, the model; he went on about his career in the Marines; and he even shared tales of his amazing Christian feats with me. Nevertheless, I was the one who got in trouble for his lack of work on the line!

I’ve also been the one who has hired people who looked good on paper, and talked a good game, but forced me to do almost all the work I assigned them (for the two weeks they were each employed by me).

I have been a student working in a group, and had one, or all, of my group members fail to do their part. However, to be fair, I have been that worker and student a time or two, also.

But every time it is irritating.

Every time it takes at least twice the work to get things done.

Just a food for thought: How many times have you been called by God to do something … and not done it?

Jesus, thank You for Your patience and grace. Thank You for Your strength. Help us do the work we are to do, to be pleasing in Your sight and with others. Help us have the same grace, patience, and strength to live with our fellow sluggards.


Grow from Instruction

Proverbs 10:17

“He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.”

Customer Service

I worked in some capacity of customer service in the retail world for nearly a decade. I am pretty good at it, because I so enjoy interacting with people.

While the height of customer service is keeping people happy, I must admit to times I did not want to live by that standard (and must confess to not always upholding that standard, but I also know the saying “the customer is always right” was stated by fools!). Yet, I mostly did stick to making customers happy.

As an employee and an employer, I have worked with people of all ages who saw no point in making others happy.

You would think, after being corrected time and again, even being required to do the most mundane (and sometimes humiliating) tasks as punishment, would convince them to change, but no.

You would think losing hours and therefore money would convince them to change, but no.

You would think the threat of losing their jobs would convince them to change, but no.

They did not seem to care about others, or for anything.

Painful Growth

Those of us who persevered and kept our jobs (usually until we moved on to something else!), as I confessed above, had our own share of mistakes and problems. There are two main differences between us and those who refused to listen:

  1. We would not complain about how unfair everything was, but more importantly,
  2. When corrected, we sought to change wrong or ignorant behavior.

Nobody likes to hear they have messed up. Nobody likes to be told they are wrong. It hurts our feelings. It hurts our pride.

But we grow from that experience and pain.

It is the same in our walk with God.

God does not call us to leave behind our desires, our wants, and our sins to hurt us, though it does hurt when we leave them. God call us because He knows that when we persevere through the pain we prove we are truly His.

“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (5) And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: (6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. … (11) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” – Hebrews 12:4-6, 11

Great God, thank You for Your rebukes and correction. Help us to be obedient, to love Your instruction. Keep us from the foolishness of refusing wisdom and Your will.


Gather Now!

Proverbs 10:5

“He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.”

Of Ants and Grasshoppers and Men

Many have heard of Aesop’s fable about an ant and a grasshopper. The grasshopper spends the summer having fun and not working. (My wife and I can understand that, as we both currently work in schools with summers off!) The ant works hard all summer saving up food for the winter months. When winter comes, the grasshopper is starving while the ant is thriving. Some versions show the message of grace by having the ant share some of its food with the grasshopper. (Darker versions only have the ant rebuking the grasshopper … who dies.)

The moral is that idleness and laziness can lead to ruin, but hard work pays off for tomorrow.

One of the problems of the so-called welfare state, in which the government covers most or all of individuals’ needs, is that many people become, well, lazy and dependent. This is the main reason most political conservatives distrust government programs which support people, such as prolonged unemployment benefits.

God’s Thoughts

One of my favorite passages from the Bible, Matthew 25,  includes the parables of the Ten Virgins, the Talents, and the Sheep and the Goats. They all have the same point: do not spend your time fooling around, but be prepared.

Sure, we are commanded to not worry about tomorrow, but the best way to not worry is to be prepared!

This is a good time to remind us all that these parables, and therefore today’s proverb, tell us that we cannot rest with an understanding that we are safe, that “I am saved!”

Jesus came to seek and save the lost, sure, but it came with a call: love others. A Christian’s salvation is evidenced by showing love to others; by feeding the hungry and clothing the naked; by weeping with the broken-hearted and healing the hurt; by seeking and reaching out to the lost; by preparing our hearts by drawing near to Him.

Great Lord, we thank You for having a plan for and saving us. Help us to not only prepare for our near future, to be good stewards of what You have given us, but also help us to prepare for eternity. Grow Your love in us, that we may love as You love.


Making Plans

Proverbs 6:6-8

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.”

In this world …

As Anthony pointed out yesterday, there is a lot of practical advice for everyday life found in Proverbs.

My wife and I work in schools. This means we have summers off from work. We have a couple of options when the summer comes:

  1. One or both of us can find summer jobs to cover expenses.
  2. We can set aside some of each paycheck to help cover expenses for the two to three months we do not work.

Especially with all of the economic concerns in our world today, it is a good idea to save up the money needed in case a summer job cannot be found. Doing this, however, requires discipline and a plan. It is not always easy to remember or even want to set money aside.

There are unexpected expenses that arise. A friend might call and say it is a great day to go out and do something. That new phone/car/movie might come out that everyone (including you and me) just has to have. These can make saving money hard, but we can learn from our friend the ant how wise it is to plan and implement those plans well.

In the next …

This passage is also a good reminder of what comes after this life. There are many who plan on waiting until the last moment of life to make any meaningful change in their lives and/or to follow God.

One problem with this is that we never know when we might die. A few are able to know their end is near and can make a conscious change, but most people are caught unaware through accidents, violence, wars, and sudden terminal illnesses.

The next problem is that we never know when Christ will return. He even warned us:

1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Matthew 25:1-13

Showing discipline and actively preparing for whatever may come not only helps us in this life, it prepares us for the next.

Loving Lord, grant us the patience and discipline we need to have full and wise lives. Grant us the wisdom to prepare for unforseen circumstances as well as expected, and help is remain faithful until Your return!


It Takes Passion

Proverbs 4:20-22

“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”

An intellectual gets great joy from learning and is invigorated by knowledge and good debate.

An avid reader gets great joy from a good book and has his or her spirit lifted by a great story.

A social person gets great joy from social interaction and is sustained by spending time with others.

A private person gets great joy from some quiet time and is refreshed by personal alone time.

God gives these desires … and uses them for His glory.

Nicodemus sought knowledge from the Teacher, and he was born again (see John 3:1-21, for example).

The Bereans found new life by reading the Scriptures foretelling the Messiah (see Acts 17:10-12).

Mary discovered everlasting life by talking with (and listening to) Jesus (see Luke 10:38-42).

Anna beheld her salvation after decades in prayerful solitude (see Luke 2:36-38).

These were all people who listened to the teachings of those who came before and especially of God. They kept God’s word within themselves and studied it fervently.

Do you?

It is not enough to just read books, talk with people, or seclude yourself from society. It is not enough to go to church services and functions or to do good things.

It takes a disciplined heart and a passion for God to truly live a godly life. And the best possibility for a long, healthy life this side of heaven comes from living a godly life (see verse 22).

Dear Lord, give us that passion for Your truth. Help us to cherish Your word and to live out Your commands.


Wisdom Is Life

Proverbs 4:13

“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.”

As I finish my degree in Christian Leadership, I am beginning to focus on working toward eventually getting a Masters in Secondary Education for Math. I have had both memories of hearing others (and thinking myself) while in high school “Why do I need to know this?” as well as heard current classmates working toward teaching degrees and students at the elementary school where I work asking the same question.

Come to think of it, as children (and even adults) we ask more than anything:

Why?

Why do I have to do this? Why do I need this? Why is this important? Why should I care?

Asking these questions is not bad, but we should be willing to learn from the answers.

Why?

Because, those answers just might be “thy life.”

Jesus famously said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) so that qualifies Him for authority. We should listen to what He says.

But beyond that …

We want to know as children why, because we want to know how things work. Some of us never grow out of that.

Parents share what they have learned from others and from experience what a child needs to know about how this world works so that they might have a better life, or at the very least that they might be able to live this life.

God the Father wants us to live life.

He sent prophets. He sent His Son. He sent His Church.

God has given us instruction for life, even to the point of coming in person to teach us.

Just as the things we learn as children help prepare us to be adults, the things we learn from God’s word – written, spoken, and lived out – help prepare us for eternity.

As Jesus said:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
John 6:63

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
John 14:21

The only way to eternal life is to believe and follow Jesus’ instructions, His commands. Read your Bible, learn His ways, and put them into practice.

Lord Jesus, give us a passion for your words. Give us ears to hear, minds to understand, wisdom to implement, and the strength to live.