Tag Archives: God

Get Rich Quick

Proverbs 21:5.

“The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” (KJV).
“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” (NLT).

What’s Wrong With That?

It’s amazing to me how many people chase after the latest get-rich quick schemes. “Make money fast from home and become a millionaire this year! Small investment, big return!” And don’t even get me started on lottery tickets: They are aptly named an “idiot tax.”

In the small town that I live in, we have a corner convenience store just down the street from my house, and it’s amazing to me that almost every time I walk in there, someone is buying a lottery ticket or scratch-and-win ticket, hoping to be the next big winner. What’s going on here? It seems we have created an entire culture that is devoted to trying to get something for nothing, to get rich without having to do any work for it. But some might be asking – is there really anything wrong with that? Well, that depends on whether or not you believe the Bible.

Poverty or Prosperity?

In today’s Scripture, Solomon tells us that we can choose plenteousness or want, prosperity or poverty. To reach each destination, there are two very different roads that lead there.

If you want to be prosperous, the road is called good planning and hard work. No shortcuts here! You need to be diligent. Get a job and work hard. And as Matthew Henry says, “The thoughts of the diligent are as necessary as the hand of the diligent. Forecast is as good as work.” It’s good to plan ahead if you want to prosper and do well financially! Plan a budget. Honour the Lord with your tithe. Be generous and give to the poor. All of these will help you succeed.

If you want to be poor, it’s a whole lot easier to get there. Don’t be diligent. Don’t get a job. Don’t work hard. Don’t plan ahead. Spend foolishly. Waste your money on things lottery tickets and other things you don’t really need. You’ll be poor before you know it!

Lord, help us as your people to make good plans and work hard, so you can bless us financially. Not just so we can be blessed, blessed, blessed, but we know you bless us so that we can be a blessing to others. To help the poor. To build the Kingdom of God. To make a difference in the lives of others. Help us to make wise choices with our finances, and be good stewards of all of our resources. In Jesus’ name, amen.


More Pleased

Proverbs 21:3.

“To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (KJV). 

Justice and Judgment:

What does the Lord want us to do? To do justice and judgment. Or, as it says in the New Living Translation: “The LORD is more pleased when we do what is just and right than when we give him sacrifices.” That tells us that – contrary to popular belief in the world today – there are certain things that are right and certain things that are wrong. And God wants us to do those things that are right. He wants us to be loving, forgiving and gracious people.

But – what does Solomon mean when he says that doing justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice? What kind of sacrifice is he talking about here?

The Sacrifices:

Under the Old Covenant, when the people would sin, they would have to make a sacrifice to atone for their sin. Under the New Covenant, when we sin, we confess our sins to God and tell Him we’re sorry for what we’ve done, and when we do, He forgives us.

However, some people have taken the grace of God and used it as a license to sin. They think that because God is good and forgiving, they can go out and sin all they want, as long as they make a sacrifice / confess their sins to Him. Some people try to make up for their sin by trying to balance it out with good deeds. Because they feel guilty, they go out and do something good like go to church, worship, fast or pray.

But God is more pleased when we do what is just and right in the first place, rather than going out and doing bad things then having to offer sacrifices to try to make up for our wrongdoings. Yes it’s true that God is gracious and will forgive us when we sin, but we cannot let that be an excuse to be a Sunday Christian, doing our religious duty at church, then forgetting about doing what is just and right the rest of the week.

A Story from Spurgeon:

I think this story by Charles Spurgeon best illustrates our motivation for doing what is just and right, even though God forgives us when we sin:

Spurgeon“There is the story of half-a-dozen boys who had severe fathers, accustomed to beat them within an inch of their lives. Another boy was with them who was well beloved by his parents, and known to do so. These young boys met together to hold a council of war about robbing an orchard. They were all anxious to get about it except the favoured youth, who did not enjoy the proposal. One of them cried out, “You need not be afraid: if our fathers catch us at this work, we shall be half-killed, but your father won’t lay a hand upon you.” The little boy answered, “And do you think because my father is kind to me, that therefore I will do wrong and grieve him? I will do nothing of the sort to my dear father. He is so good to me that I cannot vex him.”


Leadership Advice

Proverbs 20:28.

“Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.” (KJV).
“Unfailing love and faithfulness protect the king; his throne is made secure through love.” (NLT).

 

Advice for Leaders:

In this Proverb, Solomon teaches us two things. First, he commends to us two virtues of a good king: mercy and truth. Secondly, he shows how the ruler who walks in mercy will ensure he is successful in his rule. And although this proverb specifically deals with a king, I believe that the universal principle behind it can be applied to anyone in a leadership position – be they a government leader, teacher, parent, employer, or pastor.

Two Leadership Virtues:

In the world today, we are experiencing a crisis of leadership. There are so many leaders that don’t lead well. How many leaders – both prominent political leaders and religious leaders – have lost their position and influence because of a lack of integrity? Too many to count. If a leader wants to lead long, finish well, and have a lasting influence, he must be a person with a virtuous character. And two of the most important virtues, Solomon tells us, are mercy and truth. In fact, in another Proverb, Solomon tells all people, not just leaders, to aspire to be people of mercy and truth: “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.” (3:3).

What does it mean for a leader to be merciful? It means that you don’t rule with harshness, cruelty or legalism. It means you are tender and gracious, and willing to forgive the mistakes of those you lead. It means you choose to lead with love, acceptance and forgiveness. And what does it mean to be truthful? It means you are faithful to your word, you keep your promises, and do what’s right. When you make mistakes (and you will make mistakes, and that’s okay), you are quick to admit it and ask for forgiveness where necessary.

Successful Leadership:

When a leader walks in truth and especially mercy (which is mentioned twice in our text), it is said that his throne will be upholden, or made secure, by mercy. In other words, his leadership will last. His character and integrity will be preserved, and his influence will outlive his life.

I know of a leader in a church once who got hurt and offended, and rather than being merciful and choosing to forgive the other leader who had hurt him, he got bitter and started lying and gossiping about that other leader. As a consequence, many people were hurt and affected by his actions. It was such a sad and terrible situation that resulted in many people walking away from the church as a result of it. It totally broke my heart. This story serves as a warning to all who would neglect the proverbial admonition to walk in mercy and truth, which is designed to protect a leader – and the people he leads.


The Potter’s Hand

Proverbs 20:24 

Man’s goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?
The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? (NLT)

A non-believer might challenge this verse on the basis that if God gave us free will then why is He still pushing buttons somewhere that control our daily comings and goings? Most believers on the other hand are probably grateful for this one line reminder that God is watching over each one of us. The challenge comes when we don’t understand the things that take place around us, be they global, local or personal events. The prophet Isaiah was given an explanation, which he wrote down for us:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

There are people who would like to mold God to fit their image of Him. It is not possible for any human to mold God, but if we allow Him, He will mold us. This is the challenge that we face daily – to be completely surrendered to our loving Father God to the extent that His will for us translates into His direction of every single step we take, regardless of our understanding of the process. We could use the words of a Darlene Zschech song as a daily prayer of submission to our Heavenly Father:

Beautiful Lord, Wonderful savior
I know for sure all of my days are held in your hands
Crafted into your perfect plans
 
You gently called me into your presence
Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord to live all of my life
Through your eyes
 
I’m captured by your holy calling
Set me apart. I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me, Lord. I pray
 
Oh take me, mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
 
http://youtu.be/VH6uHnxGQNM

Watch Your Mouth or Get Your Lights Turned Out

Proverbs 20:20

“Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.”

My Daddy Used to Say

My father has been mentioned before, but I am going to talk about him again. You see, my dad had a very simple way with words – he said what he meant and he meant what he said. I rarely heard him raise his voice, and I didn’t want to.

One of the things my father used to say was based on the stand-up comedy of Bill Cosby (before he became infamous). He would tell me, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” But unlike modern children who never hear talk like that, I believed him.  And believe me, he was very capable.

Respect

Once I said something disrespectful to my mother and quickly regretted it. Another time, when doing some martial arts sparring, I struck my dad a little too hard in the jaw (doing the “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” routine). That was a big mistake.

I loved my daddy. He was my best friend and my hero. But my dad was quick to remind me that he was my father. He expected and demanded respect for both my mother and himself, and I gave it. I would have never considered “cursing” either one of them.

Cursing

When we look closer at the word “curseth,” we see that the meaning has more to do with making little of, or showing contempt for one’s parents, which is more than simply hurling bad words. Cursing one’s parents is showing utter disrespect.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where children think they have the right to fire off obscenities and make demands of their parents, like parents were meant to be their slaves. And what makes it worse, many laws encourage this type of “cursing” by punishing parents who exercise any discipline.

Consequences

Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The “cursing” that Solomon mentions, then, is seed which will one day reap a harvest of darkness.

Irony can be a wonderful tool, and Solomon uses it beautifully in this proverb. Just take a moment and think about it: the cursing children wouldn’t even exist without the parents they deem so invaluable, so who needs a progeny with no predecessors?

Our Father in heaven brought us into this world, and He can surely take us out.


The Gossip

Proverbs 20:19.

“He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” (KJV). 

Gossip Described:

The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the dangers of gossip:

  • “A gossip goes around revealing secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” (11:13, NLT).
  • “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” (16:28, NLT).
  • “A gossip tells secrets, so don’t hang around with someone who talks too much.” (20:19, NLT).

To sum up, a gossip tells secrets, stirs up strife and separates friends. And how does the Bible tell us to deal with gossips? Don’t hang around with them! It should go without saying, but if someone will gossip to you, they will also gossip about you.

Gossip Illustrated:

I read this poem once that best illustrates the destructive nature of gossip:

My Name Is Gossip. I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed.
 
I flourish at every level of society. My victims are helpless.
They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
I am nobody’s friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I topple governments and ruin marriages.
 
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion.
I spawn suspicion and generate grief.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.

Even my name hisses. I AM CALLED GOSSIP.

Gossip Experienced:

I hate gossip. I have seen firsthand how it can destroy friendships, break hearts, and ruin lives. I know of someone who gossiped about their pastor, and how it caused other people to leave that church as a result of their malicious lies and slander. It caused the pastor no small amount of sleepless nights, heartache, many tears and overwhelming stress. It was so hurtful that it almost caused him to want to give up and quit the ministry! Thankfully, the pastor leaned on the Lord for strength and he is still in the ministry today.

Elsewhere in Proverbs, Solomon tells us: “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.” (26:20). If we want to guard against strife, we need to take a stand against gossip. Make a commitment to never speak a negative word about someone else – whether what you are saying is true or not. The power of life and death is in your tongue: speak life only!


Sweet Stolen Bread

Proverbs 20:17

“Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.” (KJV)

The Pleasures of Sin:

I’m not going to lie to you – sin feels good. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t sin all the time, would they? The Bible says that sin is pleasurable… for a season (Hebrews 11:25). In the above Proverb, Solomon tells us that the bread of deceit is sweet to a man. In a literal sense he is saying that stolen bread tastes sweet, but in a figurative sense, I believe he is also talking about sin.

The term the bread of deceit reminds us that sin is deceitful. It looks and tastes good, but in the end it leads to death. When the devil first tempted Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, it says that “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” (Gen. 3:6).

Before I became a Christian, I used to go out and get drunk with my friends. And I had fun doing it! Eating, drinking and being merry, getting drunk, dancing and partying was fun. For a season. A season that usually lasted until the next morning.

The Consequences of Sin:

When I woke up the next morning after a night of drunken partying, I was often hung over and feeling sick. There was one night when I had gotten so drunk that I blacked out and didn’t even remember the things I had done the night before. (Apparently I threw up in the backseat of a friend’s car, and they took pictures of me passed out in a ditch. Thank God they didn’t have Facebook back then!). I often felt guilty and ashamed of my behaviour while drunk.

Sin had promised pleasure, but instead provided pain and destruction. I think this is what Solomon means by the bread turning to gravel in your mouth. Sin may be pleasurable for a season, but in the end it leads to death.

A Harvest of Blessing:

So how should we respond to this warning? I believe Paul gives us a great application point in Galatians 6:8-9: “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” (NLT).

I spent the first 18 years of my life serving sin and Satan, and enjoyed the fleeting pleasures of sin. But I can honestly say that for the past 22 years, I have had more fun serving God, loving people, and doing good. There’s a joy that comes from a life that is surrendered to Jesus Christ. Live for Him today!


Private Stock

Proverbs 20:15

“There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”

The Salesman

I can’t help but grin as I read this verse. I can almost hear the voice of a salesman showing off his wares, but starting with the common, ordinary brands…

“Now, over here you got your gold, which is pretty good, and a lot of people like it, but I don’t think it’s what your looking for. It’s a little heavy, commonly used on teeth, etc. Just follow me to the next isle.

photo (11)Now, what you have here are the finest rubies money can buy. I have seen ’em worn by those Proverbs 31 women; sold a bunch to some watch makers; heck, I even sold a box full to Lady GaGa – she’s gonna glue ’em to herself.

But, you know, I got a feeling you want something a little more special, correct?”

That’s when the salesman would take on a serious tone and retrieve a single, velvet box from out of a locked safe. Looking around to make sure the coast was clear, he would open up the box and say,

This is what you really want…it’s far more valuable than the gold or rubies. Isn’t it beautiful? Nothing like it, huh? It’s called…wisdom.

It’s from the Owner’s private stock.”

The Owner

Gold and rubies are wonderful to look at. They’re even more wonderful to have in one’s possession. But if one had enough wealth he could have rooms full of both – all it would take is money.

When it comes to wisdom, however, no amount of money can buy it. You can’t even rent it. It has to be given or shared.

Fortunately, God wants us to walk into His store with nothing in our hands. He wants to give us something far more valuable than gold or rubies. All he wants us to do is ask.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:5 ESV

 


Mexican Haggling

Proverbs 20:14

“It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.” (KJV).
“The buyer haggles over the price, saying, “It’s worthless,” then brags about getting a bargain!” (NLT).

Haggling in Mexico:

In 2005, my mom blessed my wife Liza and me by sending us on a trip to Mexico to celebrate our ten year anniversary. While we were there, we enjoyed relaxing on the beach, reading and resting. There was one thing that Liza wanted to do while we were there: shopping.

I’m not a fan of shopping on the best of days. When Liza and I go to the mall, I will walk around with her for a little while, but inevitably, I will reach my limit and have to go find a food court so I can go sit down with a coffee to hopefully read a good book. But one of the things I wasn’t looking forward to was the obligatory haggling that would ensue on our shopping excursion.

Here’s an example of haggling from an old Monty Python movie…

One time a street vendor approached Liza and tried to sell her some bracelets for $60 each. Now, the bracelets weren’t worth anywhere near that, but my wife didn’t know how to haggle – even though it was welcomed and expected in Mexico. She had paid thirty dollars for a cowboy hat earlier that day (it was hot and she needed it) and we later saw it selling for $10-20 in other shops we entered. I told the vendor that the bracelets were more money than we were willing to pay, and so he offered to sell us three of them for $20 in total. So I bought them for Liza.

The Boasting Buyer:

How does the above story – and the concept of haggling or bartering – apply to today’s Scripture? Solomon is talking about a man who goes to a shop or the market to buy goods and he undervalues them, and says that they are no good, but after purchasing the items for a lower price, he goes away and boasts about his purchase. Does this mean that we shouldn’t haggle or barter for items? Not necessarily.

The issue that Solomon is dealing with here is the dishonest means that some would use to get a good deal. Matthew Henry says, “See how apt men are to be pleased with their gettings and proud of their tricks; whereas a fraud and a lie are what a man ought to be ashamed of, though he have gained ever so much by them.” John Gill also says the Scripture describes a buyer who feels like he has outwitted the seller “and so glories in his frauds and tricks, and rejoices in his boasting, and all such rejoicing is evil.”

So what is the universal principle behind this Bible verse that we can apply to our lives? God wants us to be honest and generous in all of our financial dealings, whether we are buying or selling. No dishonesty. No cheating. No stealing.


Mud Puddles

Proverbs 20:9

“Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?”

Mud Puddles:

boy in mud

Did you ever notice how little kids love to play in the mud? There’s something inside of them like a magnet that draws them towards mud and dirt. If you Google “child in mud” you will instantly come up with hundreds of photos of children playing in the mud. (And of course most of them are boys).

When I was a youth pastor in BC, I used to go to Stillwood Bible Camp every summer to be a counsellor at our church’s kids and youth camps. One of the highlights at the kids camp was the log fighting. We would have two kids of equal size sitting on a log that was elevated over a mud puddle, and both kids were given pool noodles. The object of the game was to knock the other person off of the log into the mud puddle. By the end of the game, everyone was covered in mud – even the counsellors! And then came the fun part – getting cleaned up.

Now, when you’ve got two hundred kids covered in mud from head to toe, it’s probably not a smart thing to send them back to their cabins to get cleaned up. (If you did that, the next big event of the day would be cabin clean up). So we lined the kids up in a field and got out the fire hose to hose them off. And that water was cold!

A Clean Heart:

It’s one thing to remove the dirt from your skin. It’s another thing entirely to remove dirt from your heart – we call that dirt sin – and make your heart clean. Have you ever tried to do it? It’s impossible, isn’t it? There’s no amount of good deeds we can to do reverse the stain of sin. When Solomon asks the question: who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” the assumed answer is, “No one.” That’s the bad news. But I have some good news, too!

In Isaiah 1:18, the prophet says, “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” This is the good news! Although in our own ability, we can do nothing to take away our sins, God has already provided a solution for us – through His son Jesus Christ.

When we believe in Jesus, trusting Him to be our Lord and Saviour, God takes all of our sins and places them on Jesus on the Cross, and then freely credits to our account the righteousness of God. As we confess our sins to God, not only does He forgive us, but He also washes us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. What joy! What hope!

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.