Tag Archives: honor

Paying For It

Proverbs 13:13

Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.”

Scorn and Respect

There is a danger in avoiding responsibility and not listening to a warning.

Are you aware that we are each responsible for all of our decisions? Are you aware that every choice has a consequence?

The NIV states this verse thusly: He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects command is rewarded.

If you are told not to do something, and you do it anyway, you will pay for it. If you are told to do something and you do not do it, you will pay for it. Whether it be having an upset stomach for eating too many sweets before dinner, losing a friend for breaking trust, going to jail or prison, or losing your life, being told not to do something and doing it will cost you. It may not happen immediately (Think about heartburn! It comes hours after you ate that chili-cheese hot dog with hot sauce, not immediately!)

However, if you show respect and heed what you have been told, you will be paid back for that trust. Whether that comes through enjoying a great meal, growing closer to a friend, staying out of trouble, or having great health and/or wealth, it will go well with you in life.

Sometimes the consequences come later … much later.

I like the King James Version for the implication that comes through.

God has sent us commands by which to live. We all failed at keeping them perfectly.

God sent His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah and the Word of God, to keep those commands perfectly and then suffer the ultimate price for our failure. In doing so, the commands are summed up in two simple commands:

  1. Love others!
  2. Love God … by loving others and believing that Jesus died that you may live.

If we “scorn instruction” and “despise the word” of God, we have the promise that we will be destroyed. While there is debate on what this means, there is a guarantee that it is not pleasant nor desirable (Revelation 20:14-15).

However, if we respect and fear God’s commands, we will be rewarded with eternal life and peace with God (Galatians 6:8).

Gracious God, forgive us for despising Your word and commands. Give us the grace and power to overcome our sinful desires and follow You. Help us to love others for Your glory.

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Fortress Wisdom

Proverbs 4:8-9

“Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.”

Building Wisdom

The defense of many iron-age villages in the UK relied on huge mounds of soil being piled up to encircle a settlement and create a primitive fort. There is one of these ancient earthworks close to where I live. It is situated on the highest point for several miles and must have taken a herculean effort to build. The scale of the earthworks is not immediately evident when walking on its remains, and much is left to the imagination. What is not in doubt is that the earthworks were essential to the safety of those who lived inside. Why else would a group of Ancient Britons have invested so much in the construction of such a formidable barrier?

The word ‘exalt’ at the beginning of verse eight could be applied to the construction of an iron-age fort. Wisdom needs to be built up, and constructed into a formidable barrier to defend against everything that life and Satan have to throw at us. It is useful to remember that iron age forts were not built overnight. Solomon may have been blessed with a gift of wisdom by God, but the process of building wisdom began with the early example and teaching of his parents  (Proverbial Thought – Proverbs 4:1-2 and Proverbs 4 3-4).

Embracing Wisdom

It is not enough to embark on a building project alone. The builders of the earthworks could not spend their entire lives inside never facing the dangers outside. And how good a defense would the earthworks have been if lookouts were never posted to provide warning of possible intruders?

The reason that Solomon tells us we need to embrace wisdom is because he knew that there would be times when however good and strong the earthworks of wisdom around us may be, we still have to venture out, sometimes into the unknown. Solomon is also reminding us in these verses that we need to remain alert. Why? Because danger is all around. Stand on top of the earthworks and take a good look outside:

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NASB)

The journey is not over yet, but look out from the ramparts and you will see that the reward for exercising wisdom is in view.

 


Inheriting Glory

Proverbs 3:35

“The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”

There are two ways to look at this proverb.

Earthly implications

The first way is to understand that those who are wise have a good name, may have prosperity in some way, and will be respected. Fools will find that they lose everything, are disgraced, and have trust-issues.

However, since there is ample evidence that the opposite can be true, especially in this upside-down world, let us look at the other meaning of this verse.

Eternal implications

As Psalms 14:1 and 53:1 both mention, the fool believes and says that there is no God. The only hope he has is in this world; after this life, all he can expect is destruction.

As for those who pursue Wisdom, there is the promise of eternal life with God. All we have to do is come to Christ with the faith of a child. Jesus said:

“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” – Mark 10:14-5 KJV

We have to believe God is who He says He is; otherwise, we are doomed. However, when we live a life of wisdom by following Christ, we are promised glory.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. … And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” – Romans 8:14, 17 KJV

Gracious God, guide us in full wisdom that we may not only inherit the chance to live with You in glory, but that we may have a good name on this earth that You might be glorified through us.


True Substance

Proverbs 3:9-10

“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

It is great that the King James Version says “Honour the LORD with thy substance,” because most other translations say wealth. It is also great that it says “with the firstfruits of all thine increase,” because most other translations say crops or produce.

It is great, because these words say so much more.

Giving it all

Allow me to paraphrase: “Give God everything of who you are and let God use you and what you have, and give God the first part of anything you get above what you have.”

This is not a prosperity gospel message, but if you honor God with what you have He will give you more. If you continue giving back when you get more, you will find your barns (or bank account or pantry or whatever) full and more than you can handle.

But it is because you are thinking about God and others, not yourself and how comfortable you are. It is because you are focused on pleasing God, not growing your portfolio or your bank account.

Jesus mentioned it, too

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus discusses that those who show they are good stewards of what they are given are given more. Those who sit on, hide, or squander what they are given will have it taken away. (But we must also remember that in all things “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” (Job 1:21) must be true. Even good stewards may see everything taken away if it is for the good of the Church and glorifies God.)

The true increase and blessing is the joy of our Heavenly Father in our faithfulness and commitment to Him. We honor God because He deserves it and we love Him. We give because He gives and we love Him.

If we give simply because we expect something in return, then we should expect nothing. We are not honoring God; we are honoring ourselves.

Gracious God, Thank You for Your love and Your grace. Increase Your love in us. Give us giving hearts and a will to seek after You alone, that You may be glorified in us.


Discretion Delivers

Proverbs 2:12 

“To deliver thee from the way of the evil [man], from the man that speaketh froward things;”

Discretion that Delivers

How many of you have ever heard the phrase, “discretion is the better part of valor?” Well, whether you have or not, the phrase comes from the words of a character in one of Shakespeare’s plays.

Actually, it was a cowardly knight, Falstaff, who faked his own death in order escaped being killed. He said, “The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have sav’d my life.” – Henry the IV

As opposed to acting with courage and honor, Falstaff justified his cowardice by essentially saying, “Look, I assessed the situation and determined that doing the honorable thing would have left me a dead hero. My discretion has saved my life and allowed me to fight another day.” In reality, Falstaff disgraced the ideas of both valor and discretion. He was just a coward and a sneak.

True discretion, however, can prove a real life saver. Discretion can deliver.

From Deadly Ways

Look again at verses 11 and 12, “Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: to deliver thee from the way of the evil man…

Do you realize that evil people typically walk the same road of life? And were you aware that these evil people would love for you to walk with them, even if the road they’re traveling leads to destruction? Believe it or not, the world is full of them. You need God’s wisdom to help you determine the right road, the Way.

We will see later that there is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end of the way is death (Prov 16:25). Wise discernment will help you determine whether or not the road you’re being called to travel is healthy, or deadly.

From Hungry Wolves

In Acts chapter twenty, the apostle Paul called upon the elders of the church from Ephesus. He informed them he was going to be leaving, and upon his leaving they should remember to watch out for wolves. What kind of wolves? The kind in sheep’s clothing.

Paul said, “I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch…”(Acts 20:29-31a). Believe it or not, there are some slick talkers out there who want to devour you like lamb roast.

Be discerning. Be careful of whom you listen to. Wise discernment, the kind that comes from God, will help you determine whether or not their words are pure, or “perverse.”

Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. – John 6:67-68 NKJV


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 2nd Week of Advent – Day 5

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: -Isaiah 29:13, KJV

close up of paper against black background

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

We must be careful how we handle the Word of God. I mean both senses of the term:

  • How do we handle Scripture? Do we read into it what we think it says? Do we read passages out of context or claim promises never meant for anyone but to whom they were made? Do we use Scripture to condemn everyone who disagrees with us or to keep people “in line”? All the while we say, “God is great. I love God.” But we are keeping God in a nice, tidy box that we can control.
  • How do we handle Jesus? Do we treat Him like a monster? Do we treat Him as if He is aloof? Do we treat Him like a genie or vending machine, expecting Him to grant all of our wishes and desires, especially when we ask/demand them? Do we treat Him like a doting grandmother, thankful for the gifts He gives, but ignoring Him most of the time? All the while we say, “Jesus is great. I love Jesus.” But we are using Jesus to control others or only get what we want.

John lived in the wilderness, ate bugs and honey, and only had one outfit. He did not tolerate using God and His Word incorrectly, but he did point us back to the wonder of God’s works, as Isaiah did:

Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. -Isaiah 29:14

We cannot forget that though we rebel against God in many ways, even as we call on His name, He does marvelous things: Most importantly, He came to save us from our rebellion and make us more like Himself. We can try and reason Him away, twist His words and actions, but He is come and has made Himself known. And we cannot stand against Him.

And when Jesus returns, we shall be made like Him – holy, blameless, and glorified, able to give Him all glory for eternity.

Lord, help us to come to Your Word humbly and correctly, to align our thoughts and emotions with Yours, to follow Your will and not our own.


Woman-hater

bubble-19329_1920And one parting post on Proverbs 31 and God’s view of women, from this Macbook at least.

It fatigues my already tired mettle when that worn out rag of an opinion resurfaces that Christianity is somehow anti-female. Of course, now that the definition of “female” is under debate, I suppose that is, itself, a shifting deck in a storm of opinion.  No matter, because at least, historically, there is in my mind (admittedly, for what that’s worth…) substantial evidence that feminism has its actual roots in true Christianity. 

Note the word “true”.  Not necessarily organized religion, because most people never bother to check out the Source Document for themselves, and if they do, it’s merely a cursory study without much in depth “what’s-really-going-on-here” desire to know truth.  I realize that’s a scathing indictment, but there it is.  

Case in point, here’s a story that can be easily misunderstood, but in reality, it’s one of my faves:

“Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret.”

Duh.  He’s at the height of His popularity.  He and His crew can barely eat or get a moment alone to rest.  No wonder He fell sound asleep on the boat in the middle of a gale!!

“Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit, and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter. Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia…”

Okay, stop right there.  There’s an old saying in ancient Judaism that goes something like, “thank God I’m not a dog, a Gentile, or a woman.”  OUCH.  In addition to these three, children in this era were also not exactly seen as high on the social scale, especially daughters.  So here’s where Jesus’ comment can be taken as confusing to our 21st century sensibilities:

 “Jesus told her, ‘First I should feed the children— my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.’”

HOLD IT!  Call in the ACLU!  Protest marches!  Pink hats and speeches!  Massive Facebook posts!  NOT FAIR!  Most of us (me included) would be offended and walk away. 

But not this mom…

“She replied, ‘That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.’”

BINGO.  This gal chose, CHOSE mind you, to not be offended.  Her need, her love for her child, was more important than her selfish pride.  You want to call me a dog?  Fine, call me what you want, but this is what I’m asking for.

Except that Jesus wasn’t actually calling her a dog.  Look again.  Look at the company He was in, the dinner party of the other Jewish men.  With those words, Jesus was holding a very clear mirror up to their faces, spewing their filth back at them. When He said those words, however, I can see His eyes transfixed on the mother’s eyes, unblinking, waiting, encouraging, hoping,…

C’mon, girl.  Don’t give in to this cultural trash.  Don’t be offended with these words.  Reach out to the real Me.  Push through the pain.  Push through the confusion.  Forget your pride, it’s not worth it.  Think of your precious child.  Here I am. 

“Good answer!” he said.  “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.”

So actually the question about feminism, in this post at least, is rather moot.  The real point is the pressing compassion of the Christ, to every human, in every culture, in every time period, as well as our extreme need to not give up when it’s so very much easier to just throw in the towel and be offended, confused, or just too fatigued to press on. 

Because no matter what, His eyes are fixed on us.  Waiting for our response.

Mark 7:24-29 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.