Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Understanding Our Need

Proverbs 19:8

He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.”

Understanding Ourselves

Our world likes to teach us that we must dig down deep inside of ourselves to find the truth of ourselves. They tell us it will help us find peace and freedom.

I tend to agree.

… just not for the reasons they claim.

Their claim is that we will find the good inside of us, the things that will bring us happiness, joy, and peace as we discover our true selves.

That is where I disagree.

While we may have good inside of us (God did create us, after all), if we dig down deep we find even more that we are not so good.

We are selfish, dishonest, angry, blasphemous individuals.

Being Honest with Ourselves

If we could be honest with ourselves, we would understand that there is no way we could find good in and of ourselves.

The only way to find good in ourselves is to get wisdom.

As has been said many times during our adventures through Proverbs (one time that comes immediately to mind is my commentary on Proverbs 3:18), Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Jesus is the only good we can find in ourselves when we believe in Him.

Getting a hold of Jesus, putting our faith in the truth of His life, death, and resurrection, shows that I love my soul.

Do you love your soul?

Wise Lord, reveal Your wisdom to us. Create in us a desire to seek You through bringing us all to understanding ourselves. Help us to live within that understanding and wisdom.


Head vs Heart

Proverbs 19:2

‘Desire without knowledge is not good –
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!’

Desirable

It’s good to be passionate, to have strong desires to be love and to care. Without it life would be very boring, but as this Proverb hints at heart without a bit of head can lead us to miss the real path.

Unbalanced

A lot of people these days are driven purely by emotion. They go after things they want with reckless abandon. When we are totally driven by emotion we often end up making bad decisions and hurting people in the process. People driven by emotion will throw away relationships on a whim because they have seen the next best thing, they will chase promotions at the expense of colleagues, they will attempt to satisfy every whim and fancy in any way possible, and worst of all usually be blind to the trail of destruction in their wake. Our emotions need to submit to our common sense, and both need to submit to Jesus.

Counting the Cost

We need both desire and knowledge to make our decisions as we do not want to miss the way. Consider the words of Jesus:

Luke 14:28-33 ‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” ‘Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.’

May we learn the power of passion and desire guided by wisdom and knowledge.


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.


Bittersweet Testimony

Proverbs 14:10

“Each heart knows its own bitterness,
    and no one else can share its joy.”

Know Thy Self

The only person who knows your heart better than God is you. You know how it feels to be you. You know what what it feels like to hurt like you hurt. You and God are the only ones who know the depth of the bitterness contained in your own heart. Other people might have been through similar things, they might have some level of understanding but the only other person to know the full picture is God.

All by Myself

So is this proverb suggesting we should shut up shop, keeping our bitterness and joy to ourselves? I would like to suggest not. This proverb isn’t saying no one should share it’s joy, it is just making the observation that the natural state of play is that no one knows what is truly going on in someone’s heart (except God) unless we learn to share our hearts with others.

Grieving and Rejoicing Together

Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” This is only possible if we open our hearts to others. Now I am not saying we should share our intimate secrets with all and sundry but it is healthy to have a few trusted confidants to open our hearts to.

Extended Family

When we first found out that I had a low sperm count we had to decide whether to keep this news to ourselves or share it with our church family. When I got up and told our church I said something like this: “I tell you this now not for your pity, but so that as you grieve with us presently you will rejoice with us when we have our children.”


Strong Foundations

Proverbs 13:16

Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.
Wise people think before they act; fools don’t – and even brag about their foolishness. (NLT)

Building Wisely

A good explanation of this proverb is found in Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV) where Jesus uses a construction site to illustrate the difference between a wise man and a fool:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

When builders came to extend my home they were required by law to dig deep foundations. Although the extension only involved two ground floor rooms, building regulations stated that the foundations had to be strong enough to support a double height extension. While the builders considered this excessive, it added an element of future proofing and made absolutely certain that my ground floor extension would stand for many years. Call it wisdom, call it forward planning, call it what you like, but I have absolute confidence in the deep foundations supporting my extension.

Foolish Boasting

I also have absolute confidence that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that His words provide a foundation for survival in a world that offers many other choices. In fact there are only two choices. Listen to Jesus or ignore Jesus. He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Sadly there is no shortage of fools prepared to boast that there is no God as demonstrated in an advertising campaign involving buses in the UK during 2009.

Scripture provides a response to such folly:


Vision or Fantasy?

Proverbs 12:11

“He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.”
Uh Oh

Hmmm. This is a proverb I usually avoid. Why? Because I have been labelled as a bit of a dreamer. Some have called me a visionary. That might sound great, but visionaries are often the one’s with ideas who never seen them through to completion! Who wants that?

Vision vs Fantasies

I guess there has to be a distinction between vision and fantasy. The Bible tells us that without vision the people perish. But how do we know that we have the right vision? Vision will give you food, and abundant food, it will also involve work – work for you to do.

But what if you are chasing the wrong vision? A man-made fantasy? Then there will be no pay of any real value. It will provide no sustenance. You will spend your days chasing one fantasy after another to try and find your fill, to make your million, and all to no avail.

Leaning on Webs

What about the times when we are pretty sure we have a God given vision and yet seem to be making no progress? Does that mean we are chasing fantasy? Don’t ask me! Go back to the source – ask God.

Have you stopped trusting in Him? Have you moved the goal posts? Cherish the vision He has given you. Work at it and never stop trusting.

“Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
    so perishes the hope of the godless.
What he trusts in is fragile;
    what he relies on is a spider’s web.
 He leans on his web, but it gives way;
    he clings to it, but it does not hold.” – Job 8:13-15 (NIV, edited)

Lean on God.


Don’t Be Pig Jewelry

Proverbs 11:22

“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”

Proverb or Nonverb?

If you want to run a great quiz round, make up a load of proverbs, mix them in with little beauties like this, and then ask which is the genuine article. I guarantee you will catch some people out. But just because a Proverb sounds made up doesn’t mean it lacks wisdom, or indeed a lesson for us to learn.

Pig Jewelry

As we look into this idea of pig adornment, we discover a theme repeated throughout the Bible: the contrast between the image we present and the person we are. Despite this, we spend an inordinate amount of time working on the outside rather than the inside, and yet the outside makes up for so little of who we are and is often easy to see past.

Consider how small the gold ring is compared to the pig. It may catch our eye, initially (after all it is gold), but let’s be honest, no amount of gold is going to hide the fact it is stuck on a pig.

The Eye of the Beholder

Similarly beautiful women may turn a man’s head, but my experience is that if there is no substance beneath the beauty, no discretion, then the attraction is waning. I may tolerate them, but it is clear they are a pig – so to speak.

But what happens when I turn this mirror to my own life? Do I see a gold ring, or a pig? Is my “beauty” being wasted on a muddy snout?

Beauty for Ashes

In truth, it matters little what I see, but how God sees me. Can I believe that Jesus loves me despite myself? It may be hard to believe, but he does! That’s the truth on which I will stand.

Isaiah 61:3 “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…”


Worthless Toys

Proverbs 11:7-8

“When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth. The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.”

Whoever dies with the most toys wins.

Have you ever heard that phrase? That is exactly what this verse is speaking about.

There are many people who truly believe (or at least really wish) that with more money, influence, and stuff they might be able to prolong life or even cheat death.

Quite frankly, that will never happen. In this world, people die, and there is no escape by our meager means.

It does not matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.

There are many religions in the world that promise peace, life, or freedom.

In our Western culture, one of the current themes is that sincerity in the belief is what really sets you free.

Quite frankly, that is hogwash. You can sincerely believe your hand is indestructible, but that angry dog you just tried to pet does not care.

God is dead.

This is been a common theme since Time Magazine did an article in 1966, but starting earlier. In fact, one reason many atheists enjoy the theory of evolution is that ultimately God is not necessary if there is enough time and random circumstances.

Quite frankly, this is dangerously wrong. Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics and the fact that our Universe does indeed have a beginning prove at the very least that something outside of our Universe caused everything to be.

The Truth

There is a God. This God created everything, including humans. Humans messed up … royally. Therefore, God came to Earth as a man, Jesus of Nazareth. In His righteousness, He took the penalty humans deserved. Now, those who believe in this truth are delivered out of eternal trouble into eternal peace and life with God.

Those who refuse to believe or think they know better are still under the penalty.

Lord Jesus, thank You for taking our penalty. Thank You for life. Use our lives to save as many more of those who are perishing as possible. Teach us to love them as You love us all.


Don’t Fake It

Proverbs 10:9 

“He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.”

Walking Righteously

When I was a child I would watch my pop walking around wherever he worked, and he looked confident and like he knew where he was going. I saw many more people (my parents, my friends, my parents friends, many CEO’s of companies, male, female, etc.) looking confident and like they knew where they were going.

There are three things I learned while growing up:

  1. Many people are faking it.
  2. Many people are distracted by the worries of this world (meaning they are probably angry or self-righteous about something) which helps with looking confident or like they know where they are going.
  3. A few people have real confidence and really know where they are going, and many of them have peace.

Self-righteous, Angry, and Faking It

The problem with faking it, living angry, and being self-righteous is that … everyone knows! Most people are able to tell who is faking it, angry, or self-righteous.

These are people tend to make excuses or shift the blame.

The problem with making excuses and shifting blame to someone or something else is that the truth eventually comes to light, and it can be embarrassing when the truth comes out.

Knowing Peace

It is much better to walk a righteous – an upright – life. You can “walk surely,” or, as the NIV puts it, “The man of integrity walks securely.”

When living a morally upright life, you can have confidence in what you are doing.

When following Jesus Christ, you know exactly where you are going.

When trusting in God, you have peace.

As discussed several times earlier, Jesus Christ is our Peace, our Path, our Righteousness, and our Assurance. When we walk  in His Holy Spirit, we are covered with Him. We walk in peace and righteousness assured that our path leads to glory and everlasting life.

Gracious God, we praise You for Your greatness and great love. Thank You for peace and righteousness, for giving us Your assurance through the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Help us live in that peace. Help us walk in Your ways. Give us assurance through Your Spirit in our salvation and Your Return.


A New Pickle

Proverbs 10:2 

“Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.”

Stolen Treasure

In the summer of 2002, I was a volunteer room leader at Manville Camp. The speaker that year was Rev. Robert Pickle. This is a man few would expect to be a Christian by just looking at him. Rev. Pickle is over six feet tall with a pony-tail all the way down is back, he rides a motorcycle and has tattoos all over his body, and he is an ex-con.

Yet this is a very large man with a very large heart for Christ, a man who cries whenever he thinks of God’s amazing grace in his life.

He related a story to us that summer:

He was a wanted man … but not in the way most people would like. He was in a very violent motorcycle gang. He grew his own marijuana, made his own drugs, and had many guns and knives. He was not afraid to use those guns and knives, either. He had killed dozens of men. He made a lot of money from drugs and stealing. In his own words, “I stole money through wasted lives and from stores and people.”

Because all of his money came from drugs and stealing, he could not spend most of it in case it came from cops or could be traced from a robbery. He ended up burying millions of dollars around his property. He was arrested one day (another great story, I promise you!), and he is certain there is still at least hundreds of thousands of dollars left unfound on that property.

He could not spend the vast majority of the money he had. It was practically worthless.

New Treasure

Rev. Pickle loves to share his story because he was a self-made millionaire who could spend none of it. His treasures were literally laid up in the earth.

Now, he knows his treasure is in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). He knows he has been made a treasure in Christ (2 Corinthians 4). He knows that if Jesus Christ had not sought him out to make him righteous through the blood of Christ, he would be dead today.

That is the real point of today’s verse:

We can only find our righteousness in Jesus Christ. He is the only way we can find life.

As David said yesterday, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters.” With Christ in our lives, we will always finish this life well and enter eternal life.

Heavenly Father, we thank You that You sought us out to make a way for us through Jesus Christ. Draw us close, and show us real Life. Strengthen us in Your Holy Spirit to continually seek out Your righteousness. Help us to finish this life well – with You.