Tag Archives: Jesus

Hear the Law

Proverbs 28:9.
“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” (KJV).

The Law is Good:

It’s unfortunate that even in the church today, many people have turned away from the hearing of God’s law. “We’re under grace, not law!” they protest. However, Jesus Himself said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matt. 5:17).

Now it’s true that that no one can ever be right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (Gal. 3:11). But that’s not the purpose of God’s law. You can’t get saved by keeping the Ten Commandments.

Having said that though, I do believe that God wants us to keep His law, not break His law. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). We don’t keep the law to try to get God to love us, but because He already does love us in response to His love.

What Law?

When we speak of keeping God’s law, what are we talking about? We know that the ceremonial laws (the religious ceremonies, offerings and feasts of the Israelites) were fulfilled in Jesus, and because we don’t live in the nation of Israel, the civil law (their dictates for how to punish law-breakers) doesn’t apply to us. However, the moral law – the law that teaches us what is right and wrong – does apply to our lives as Christians. And not only the five books of the Old Testament called “The Law”, but indeed all of the commandments in the Bible – Old and New Testaments. Love your neighbour, turn the other cheek, treat others as you want to be treated, etc.

Listen to the Law:

In today’s Proverb, King Solomon gives us a warning. He says that if you turn your ear away from hearing the law, then even your prayers would be an abomination to the Lord. This is very similar to Psalm 66:18: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” In other words, if we choose to disobey God’s law (which He gave us for our own good), then we shouldn’t expect Him to listen to our prayers!

Let me illustrate. If one of my children was to disobey me, and refused to apologize for doing something wrong, and they were to turn around and ask for the keys to the car, do you think I would give it to them? Not likely! This doesn’t mean I don’t love my child, but I’m not going to reward their rebellion by doing something nice for them.

The same thing is true with the Lord. He is more concerned with our relationship with Him than the things we are asking Him for. Therefore, if we will do our utmost to walk in obedience to His Word, and when we miss the mark, be quick to repent and ask for forgiveness, we will continue to enjoy His loving presence. Amen!


From Riches to Rags

Proverbs 28:6 

Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich. (NLT)

There was once a vertically challenged tax collector who climbed into a tree to see over the heads of the crowd when a famous itinerant Teacher came to town. The gentleman in question was reasonably wealthy, but should not have been. Why not? Because he was a civil servant. He gained his wealth not through fair wages but by cheating the taxpayers of the town. Did he feel any discomfort or remorse about the way in which he accumulated his riches? Possibly not, but something drew him to a Teacher with no visible wealth, just a wealth of wisdom in His words.

The tax collector was called Zacchaeus. When the Teacher came to the tree he looked up and told Zacchaeus to come down out of the tree, and immediately invited Himself to dinner. The dinner party that followed was a life-changing event for Zacchaeus and resulted in him donating half of his wealth to the poor. The reminder probably went in the compensation he promised to anyone he had ever cheated. Scripture does not say that Zacchaeus was reduced to a life of poverty because of his encounter with the Teacher, but it seems likely. Not everyone who met Jesus was changed in this way, but everyone has a choice. Listen to the words of eternal life, or walk away (as one rich young man did).

This proverb is very similar to Proverbs 19:1, which also teaches that it is better to be poor and honest, than dishonest and a fool. The fact of the matter is that God does not measure wealth in worldly terms, but examines each human heart to discern whether wisdom is present and in what quantity. Zacchaeus appears to have been blinded by the shiny things of the world, but had sufficient wisdom to recognize the need for change in his life. His encounter with Jesus didn’t just change his life, but totally transformed it. I can’t imagine that anyone in the crowd saw that one coming.

Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good! (Psalm 53:1 NLT)

Justice Understood

Proverbs 28:5

“Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.”
“Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the LORD understand completely.” – NLT
Media Courtrooms

One of the greatest hindrances to the legal system is the media. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that the public can find out what goes on our courtrooms. However, when the public relies solely on the media (especially social media) to keep them abreast of all the details of a trial, nothing but confusion, misinformation, and bad judgment can come from it.Conscience and law

Depending on who is reporting the news, one arrested for a crime might either be portrayed as a monster, or the second coming of Ghandi. Then, when one adds the prejudices of certain segments of society, it wouldn’t matter who did what, just as long as justice is seen to favor the group prejudiced against. In the meantime, as Rome burns, the media fuels the fire for the sake of ratings.

Perspectives

No matter the case, this proverb tells us that from an evil person’s perspective, compared to one who “follows the Lord,” he cannot, under any circumstance, be made to understand justice. No matter the reason for the verdict, if one is convicted for a crime, the evil will always cry, “Foul!

On the other hand, even good people can unwittingly align themselves with evil men. Without knowing all the details, only being fed what the media wants to dish out, they can resort to aberrant behavior. I have seen this happen many times, and have even been on the receiving end of unwarranted righteous indignation. Whatever happened to hearing both sides? Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” Whatever happened to mercy?

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” – Micah 6:8 KJV

Whom Do We Seek?

When we seek our own, selfish desires – the ones that cause us to have the verdicts turn our way – our understanding can be darkened. It is only when we seek the Lord and let Him handle the situation that our eyes and hearts are open to better recognize true justice.

However, crazy as it may sound, for the believer and follower of God, the most outrageous verdicts handed down by the most insane judges are only lower court rulings yet to be tried by the Judge of the Ages. His judgment will be true, righteous, and clear enough for the vilest to understand.

In the meantime, the wise man will never forget these words: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).


The Eyes Have It

Proverbs 27:20

“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
“Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.” – NIV

I, I

I enjoy video games. I have done for a long long time. I have worked in a video game shop. When a new big game comes out I find it hard to resist: I want to play it, to experience it. I knew the latest Grand Theft Auto would be a well deserved 18: but I am a sensible deserving adult, right? However upon playing a portion of the game I just simply decided that I didn’t want this kind of thing in my life. I can appreciate that it is a good game: the mechanics work well but for me the mechanics are implemented in a dark fashion. So I got rid of it. To be honest it was a sacrifice. I enjoyed most elements of the game but when it forces me in a direction that I don’t want to go in and have no chance to skip, I have to make a choice.

Why? Because what I fill my life with dominates it. What I let my eyes see affects my actions. Or as Jesus put it: what I fill my heart with will eventually come to the surface. Let me be clear – I’m not suggesting that playing dark or violent video games will turn a person into a killer: just that at some point, on some level, it will have an impact on their mood and outlook. That’s why despite me enjoying parts of the game, especially the chance to play online with friends, I have decided it’s not for me. I guess it crossed a line that I didn’t want to. Now I still have games in my collection that involve things like shooting so what does this verse have to say about them?

Balance in Favour of God

The eyes are never satisfied. They take everything in and the more they see of one thing the more they want it. Be that video games, films, porn or purity. People talk about our lives being in balance but for me the key is to make sure your eyes see enough of God that they just keep wanting more. The times I have genuinely spent focusing on God are the times when all other things in my life take a back seat. You may not like video games but I guarantee there is something in your life that is your go to thing when God is not central. The thing you spend most of your time doing, or thinking about when you aren’t doing it. If we could make God that thing, a lot of our other problems would fade into insignificance.

Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’


Protecting Assets

Proverbs 27:13

“Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.”
“Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt. Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.” (NLT)
Taking a Garment

The verse today relates to the previous.

There are many dangers which we must be constantly watching out for.

Whether in business (such as banks) or personal life, we have to make sure we are not being taken advantage of in some of our dealings.

For example, suppose you have a friend who is always helping others financially, and he always asks you for help with a promise to repay. Over time you learn that he never makes good on that promise.

To help in such matters, you can ask him for something valuable as a way of urging him to repay.

This item serves as a reminder of a debt that is owed.

Reminder of the Debt

This passage has little to do with spiritual matters, but there is another debt in our lives that a constant reminder.

In Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 we find a list of things called the 10 Commandments. In Romans (specifically chapter 5), Paul tells us that the Law, the 10 Commandments, was given as a reminder of our sin. It shows us how we fail to live up to loving God.

The Law shows us our debt.

Fortunately, our God has shown us grace and forgiveness. He paid our debt by sending His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to live a perfect, sinless life and die on a cross to pay the debt we could not pay.

To receive the full grace and forgiveness He has offered us, we need only believe that Jesus is God made flesh, paid for our sins on the cross, and rose again to life and now lives with the Father awaiting the time to return and redeem His faithful.

Heavenly Father, help us to be good stewards of what You have given us. We admit we are sinners in need of grace and forgiveness. Thank You for offering that grace and forgiveness through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Give us the faith we need to live in the light of that truth every day!


Kiss Me Kill Me

Proverbs 27:6

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses.

It Makes Sense

This is one of those proverbs we can look at and agree with. We all know it makes sense. It is much better to have friends who will be honest with us even when it hurts, then friends who will just pamper and flatter us even when we are clearly in the wrong.

The trouble is something making sense doesn’t guarantee we will follow the advice. In this case there are multiple reasons why we ignore this advice, our society is much more comfortable with flattery, even when it’s false, than truth; it can be hard to receive truth from a friend; we can find it difficult to speak truthfully to our friends in case they decide to ditch us.

First Things Firsts

To see more meaningful relationships we need to be ready to be examples. We need to be people who are good at taking criticism, and also brave enough to give it. Many people misread the plank in the eye parable. They use the excuse that as they will never be perfect, and therefore always have impaired vision, they cannot challenge other’s behaviour. I have even heard parents say that they cannot challenge their wayward ward because they were just as bad when they were children. But we only need to read to the end of the parable to see Jesus intention –

Matthew 7:5 (emphasis mine) ‘You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’ 

We are to be wounded and we are to wound. And all the better our friendships shall be for it.


Red Mist vs The Green Eye Monster

Proverbs 27:4

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
    but who can stand before jealousy?

Ch Ch Ch Changes…

I was never that bothered about hitting 30. I just thought it would be a birthday like any other, the only significance being what others placed on it. I was wrong. Since hitting 30 my memory has declined, I can no longer stay up past midnight and operate the next day, sprained ankles take months to recover rather than days… you get the picture and it’s a grim one. I also noticed I was rapidly becoming a grumpy old man.

Red Mist

I decided to cheer up a bit, I couldn’t change some of the physical stuff but I could change the grumpiness, and I was doing so, and then we adopted a three year old boy! There is nothing that challenges patience greater than a child! I certainly look back on my own childhood now with a slightly different perspective! Raising a child certainly shows me the truth of the first part of this verse. For my son his anger can strike at any time with no obvious reasons and it cripples him. When I get angry it’s easier to spot the reasons but just as hard not to be overwhelmed and suddenly flip into hulk mode. Anger is overwhelming, but anger passes. Losing control is not comfortable, but it usually dissipates fairly quickly. The chemical reaction in our body does its work and then we come down. Our son certainly bounces back quickly, the events seemingly left in the past.

Green Eye Monsters

Just as we all experience anger, we all certainly recognise the pangs of envy. The writer of this proverb seems to be implying that jealousy is worse than anger. I wonder if it is because of jealousy’s lingering nature. Jealous leads us to be consumed by something we don’t yet have. At worst it can make us plot and plan devious schemes to obtain said items, at best it can lead to restless nights consumed with thoughts of our supposed ‘need’.

So What?

We may all agree with the verse in question but so what? Should we favour anger over jealousy? Anger and jealousy are both things that we are told God has experienced – so what is this verse all about? Well firstly I think there is a recognition that anger and jealousy are very much part of the human experience – there will be a day when they are gone, but for now we are stuck with them. But that doesn’t mean we have to indulge in them especially when they are both potentially destructive. This verse hints that we may not be able to control when they hit, but we can certainly limit the damage they cause.

Self Control

The problem is a lack of self control, we are encouraged to revel in our feelings as long as they make us feel better. This is world’s apart from the way of life Jesus choose, a life of self control and sacrifice benefiting others before himself. If we want to be more like Him we need to spend more time with Him drawing from His reserves of love, being strengthened to be self controlled and disciplined and getting grace when we invariably mess it up.

Philippians 2:1-11 (The Message) ‘If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.’