Tag Archives: Jesus

Dream Big!

Proverbs 13:12

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” (KJV).
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.” (NLT).

When Hope is Deferred

Have you ever wanted something really bad or prayed about something for a very long time, but it never happened? Everyone has stories that they could share about disappointment and grief over things that they hoped for that never happened. When hope is deferred – when something you want doesn’t happen, or it doesn’t happen as quickly as you want it to – your heart gets sick. Hope deferred can cause you to stop hoping, stop dreaming, and even stop praying.

About ten years ago, my step-father lost his battle with cancer and he died. When that happened, my mom stopped praying. For many years, she refused to pray for circumstances to change, because she feared that they would only get worse. I am thankful that things have changed, and that she’s praying again today. Too many Christians allow themselves to get heart sick and then they lose courage, give up, and eventually they die.

“But”

The key to understanding God’s purpose in this Proverb is found in the small but important little word “But.” When I was an adjunct professor at Pacific Life Bible College in Surrey, BC, I always taught my Bible Research students to look for those key connective words. There is an example of this in Ephesians chapter two where the Apostle Paul talks about how we “were by nature children of wrath… But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us (has) made us alive together with Christ.” (v. 3-5).

So, although it is true that hope deferred can make our hearts sick – But God – His desire is that we would dream, and dream big. For when those dreams are finally realized, there is life and joy. Thank God for the big “buts” in the Bible!

When Dreams Come True

Also in Ephesians, Paul tells us that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20). Our God is a good God, and He loves His children very much. He longs to bless us, to care for us, and meet all of our needs. But so often, we never ask. I wish we as Christians would believe the Bible more than we do!

Jesus Christ Himself taught, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). Do you believe the promise? If you do, then pray! If you are in trouble, call upon the name of the Lord, for He is mighty to save! And when the Lord answers your prayers, make sure you praise Him. “to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:21).


Generally Speaking

Proverbs 12:28 

“In the way of righteousness [is] life; and [in] the pathway [thereof there is] no death.”

Generalities

As a genre, many of the Proverbs are spoken in general terms, such as with Proverbs 22:6, which reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The principle is trustworthy, obviously, but we all know that there are going to be children who go astray and never come back.

Similarly, when we read this verse we see the statement that “the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” Well, what does this mean? Is the writer trying to say that if one lives a righteous life he will never die? What about Christian martyrs? Did they not die?

Specifics

The general idea is that the way of righteousness, and the ones who travel down its path, will fare better. It is much like a verse I commented on a while back, “The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness” (Proverbs 11:5 HCSB).

But there is a truth that is very specific to the follower of Christ. It can be found in another verse.

“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:” – 2Timothy 1:10

Generally speaking, it is more likely that you will experience life, not death, when you travel a righteous path. But when it comes to the end of life, which will eventually come, eternity awaits.

Specifically speaking, the person who puts his faith in Jesus Christ and believes His gospel will have immortality.

That’s the path I want to be on. What about you?


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.


No Servant, No Problem

Proverbs 12:9

“[He that is] despised, and hath a servant, [is] better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.”

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
    than pretend to be somebody and have no food. – NIV

Nobody Has a Servant!

This proverb had me musing for a while. Not many people I know have servants these days, even the well known ones. But digging a bit deeper and flicking across the translations we find a few varieties. The essence remains the same, and ends up sounding a bit like “count your blessings.”

What do You Have?

When Moses first got acquainted with God it’s safe to say old Mo’ was a bit insecure. God reminds him of a few things and then asks Moses what he has in his hand. Moses looks and sees his staff. Nothing special there he thinks, after all it’s just a tool I use everyday. But maybe that’s the point?

We think so much about what we don’t have, about the ways we could be blessed, that we miss the obvious – the ways we have already been blessed.

The Pretender

And then we fall into the trap revealed in the second part of the proverb – we start to pretend. Pretend we are more than we are, we have more than we are, we like what we don’t, we value what we despise, but yet what we actually have is nothing.

Lord, help us to look not to what we don’t have, but instead to the things You have already given us, and in doing so give glory and gratitude to You. 


The Fruit of Your Tree

Proverbs 11:30

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”

Connected Wisdom

This blog is all about gleaning wisdom from the book of proverbs. What is interesting is that in terms of the Bible proverbs is quite a strange book. There isn’t really another book like it. We have these couplets some that link to others, some that can stand alone, others make perfect first glance sense while others still talk about pigs and women. It all seems a bit random… at first but look long enough and you will start to see the connections.

Finding the Threads

One thing I have been diligent at over the last couple of years is reading through the Bible. Every six out of seven days I sit and I make time for it. Not an awful lot of time but time. And something has happened. I know the Bible better than I ever have done. I remember bits of it. I know my way around it. And when I read proverbs like this my mind is draw on a journey through the Bible to get to the truth.

The Truth

So let’s take a look – ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life’, the first thing is that this is talking about a tree of life not the tree of life. So the verse seems to be implying that the righteous will bring life by their fruit. In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that He has come to bring ‘life to the fullest’ so it’s a good bet that the fruit of the righteous involves Jesus. In fact in John 15 Jesus Himself tells us that the way to produce this fruit is to remain in Him. What does this mean? Quite simply that if we plant ourselves in Jesus then we are more likely to produce His fruit which will bring life to all who taste it.

Of course we still have a choice. We can stubbornly remain in Jesus or gladly remain in Him. Which ever we do will shape the type of fruit we produce and therefore the type of life we are bringing to others. I wonder what type of fruit others are getting from you? Nice to look at but bland in taste? Or fresh and full of freedom?

Soulsome Fruit

The second part of the verse is also a theme clearly picked up by Jesus – that of building eternally rather than temporarily.

Stop reading and think about all the things that were on your mind before you started reading. Now on a piece of paper draw two columns one for temporary and one for eternal. List the things you were thinking off in the correct category. How did you do? Balanced? More on earth than heaven? I could go on but I’m guessing your list will be challenge enough for today.

Matt 6:19-21 ‘ “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”‘


It’s All In God’s Hands

Proverbs 11:28

He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.

It Isn’t Ours

I have been self-employed for the last twenty years. Income in 1992 when I started out was modest, but I believe that over the years God has blessed the business and blessed my family. In turn I have tried to bless others. I have not amassed cash to any extent, other than making provision to eventually pay off the mortgage on the family home through endowment policies and savings. I would not say I have trusted in my financial assets, but I believe that I may have become increasingly complacent, and forgotten one small detail: None of it belongs to me.

A Reminder

Whatever we have on earth we have because God allows us to have it. Over the last three years my income has fallen and it has become increasingly difficult to get paid. While prayers have been answered I have had to dip deeply into savings as it takes longer and longer to receive payment for invoices. I have also had to review my giving. While that has been difficult I have been reminded that it was never mine in the first place. God has challenged me about becoming proud about what I have given.

Temporary Benefit

We cannot and must not rely on or trust in the temporary benefits associated with worldly wealth. We leave the world in the same way that we arrive. Empty handed. Even if we are blessed with monetary riches, nothing can be considered permanent, as many a person who has fallen on hard times can testify. The challenge we face as human beings is to be wise in our choices, and wise in our use of everything God has placed into our hands. It doesn’t matter if the world considers us rich or poor in terms of possessions. What matters most is what God sees in us.

How to Flourish?

So how can we flourish? Jesus spoke about branches that flourish and those that do not. He said:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:1-8 NIV)


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…”


Sometimes Unity Isn’t Enough

Proverbs 11:21

“Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.”
Not Enough Space

Honestly, there is not enough space allowed in this entry to adequately cover all the things that could be gleaned from this proverb. Because we desire that these posts be published one day, if every “thought” was a thousand words, the final book would look like the Encyclopedia Britannica.

At the time of this writing, it is a Sunday evening, and I just preached a forty-five minute sermon on this very text. It was such a blessing, and the result was that a young lady came forward tonight and asked if I could show her how to be saved.  If I were to go into all that I preached, I don’t know how long this post would be.

So, what I am going to do is share some highlights. I would encourage you to take the time, as with all these verses in Proverbs, to study them for yourself.

“We are the World”

Do you remember that Michael Jackson classic, We are the World? Have you seen all the different organizations and activist groups that use pictures of people holding hands to send a message of unity? Have you ever played the game where kids stood in a line with their arms locked together and said, “Red rover, red rover, send some idiot right over?”

Well, the wicked of this world have the idea that if they stand together in a united front against the True God of the universe, all will go their way. You can see it plastered across all the news networks. Flames are rising around the planet as followers of a false god rise up against the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and against Christianity.

They are united. They are hand in hand. They are the world.

Won’t Make a Difference

But even though the wicked stand hand in hand, it won’t make the outcome any different. The whole world joined together in one voice before the Deluge, yet they still drowned. Their unity couldn’t hold back the judgment of God.

Even now, militants are rising up, seeking the destruction of the righteous, but, “The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming” (Psa. 37:13).

The Promise

Many look at history and ask, “If God’s word is true, then why do the righteous die as martyrs? Why are Christians persecuted and killed? Why does it look like the ‘wicked’ are getting their way?”

Here’s the answer: it ain’t over, yet.

Isa 27:13 ESV – “And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”

Deliverance may not come in the way we think it should, but it will come. It may not even be in this life, but it will come. And one day, when that “great trumpet will be blown,” the righteous will all worship on His holy mountain in Jerusalem.


Foundational Hope In A Turbulent World

Proverbs 10:25

“As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.”
Comparison of Versions

To begin with, let us look at some other Bible versions. I think it would be interesting to see how this verse is treated.

  • When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation. – NLT
  • When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever. – NIV
  • When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever. – ESV

Do you see the similarity? Do you understand the point being made? Storms will come to both the righteous and the wicked, but only one has a sure foundation.

Foundations

My favorite hymn is The Solid Rock. It is an old hymn that says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  The difference between the wicked and the righteous is their foundations.

When the storms come, Christ is the Solid Rock on which the righteous stand.  Everything else, including money, philosophy, relationships, etc., is nothing more than sinking sand.

Comparing Funerals

The best place to observe the truth of today’s verse is in a funeral home. Just watch the family of known unbelievers, then the family of someone with a strong, Christian faith. The difference will be obvious.

One day I walked into a funeral home where two visitations were going on right across from each other. On the left was a Christian family; the right a pagan one. The Christian family was crying at times, but with smiles. The pagan family never smiled.

The Christian family dressed in lighter colors, as if they were going to a Springtime church service. The pagans dressed in black. And when I stood around and listened to the mourners, one family said things like, “I’m so glad I’ll see him again,” and “He’s in a better place.” The other family wept as they came to terms with the fact their loved one was gone forever.

Which family was still standing after the storm? Which one was utterly devastated? Which one had hope?

When the Storm is Over

Storms of all kinds come to each of us. Without God we must weather the storms alone. But righteous know that the only sure shelter is found in Jesus.

Another of my favorite songs is Till the Storm Passes By.  It reminds me that even when storms do come, there is a Fortress. I don’t have to stand out in the open and get blown away.


Wicked Fear

Proverbs 10:24

“The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.”
Scary Things

There are not many of things that scare me now that I am an adult. However, as a child I lived in dread of a lot of things. I was afraid of vampires, clowns, Russians, and girls with cooties. Now I know that vampires can be killed with a good flashlight (the handle part, that is), and Russia is less of a threat than China. Clowns and girls are still a problem, though.

On the other hand, I used to love to fly in airplanes, drink from unwashed soda cans and public water fountains, and drive sports cars at ungodly rates of speed down curvy mountain roads. Now I know that it takes a long time to fall from 30,000 feet, germs are everywhere, and deer have a habit of walking in front of good drivers.

But the biggest thing is that most of the scary things in life are either in my mind, or avoidable. I have no fear of them eventually catching up with me. If killer bees get too close, I’ll just move. The wicked, however, have no such hope.

Gonna Getcha

I like the way the NIV translates the first part of this verse, “What the wicked dreads will overtake him…” Verse 24 is telling us that the wicked are running from something, while the righteous are running to something. And more than that, whatever the wicked are fleeing will eventually catch up.

What do the wicked fear? What will eventually overtake them? A few things come to mind: being alone, pain, loss, falling, and death.  Huh…coincidentally, all of those will be present in hell. Go figure.

Gonna Grant It

But for the righteous…the ones who know every good gift is from God, the ones who know grace can’t be earned…their desires will be granted.

Amazing, isn’t it? What does the righteous desire? To be loved. To be healed. To have treasure that won’t decay. To be caught up. To have eternal life. Wow! Everything that heaven will bring!

But there’s one more thing: the righteous will welcomed into the presence of their greatest Desire – Jesus.

Don’t run from Jesus. Run to Him. Make Jesus your desire.