Tag Archives: NLT

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.


Could You Handle It?

Proverbs 10:16

“The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.”

It’s Not About Money

There is a popular saying that has been around a long time. It goes, “Follow the money.” The idea is that if you want to know who’s behind something, or what’s at the root of something, then just follow the money trail – there you’ll find the answer.

But in reality, it’s not always just about money. Money is amoral. Money is neither good, nor evil. What people do with money has a lot to do with the heart of the person spending it.

It’s What You Do With It

Every once in a while a different translation can help to shed light on certain truths. You see, in verse sixteen it is not about the “labour” or the “fruit” as much as it is about the “righteous” and the “wicked.” Look at how the New Living Translation treats this passage…

The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin. – Proverbs 10:16 NLT

The point of this proverb is to highlight the differences between the righteous and the wicked. The difference is that the same money, the same labor, can bring life, or it can be used to dig deeper into sin, but it all comes down to choice. What a person does with their money; what a person works for each week; these are outward indicators of the heart.

Ask Yourself this Question

If wealth was dropped into your lap tomorrow, how would you handle it? If you were to become a millionaire tomorrow, would it be the end of you, or the beginning? Either way, don’t blame or give credit to the money. The state of your heart, right now, is what would determine the outcome.

Are you poor? Could you handle wealth? If not, then you may have issues that are worse than an empty bank account.


Couch Talk

Proverbs 3:31-32

“Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.”

Preface

Let me preface what I am about to write by saying that it is pleasure to study verses of Scripture which would normally be overlooked in casual reading. When I first selected this passage, I only did so based on the calendar. Only when it came time to write did it become clear there was much more to these verses that met the eye.

I can only scratch the surface, today. However, I would challenge each reader, as with the other texts, to study them for yourself. The greatest riches of heaven are not usually handed over, they are wrestled from the Word. Dig, my friends, and you will be amazed at what you find.

The Oppressor

Solomon recognized that there is always the temptation to envy those in power. If honest, few would deny that they, at some point, secretly wished they could be ruler of the world. And in most cases, the wish would not be to become the most benevolent ruler in history, but a dictator.

But we should ask ourselves, what is it about the “oppressor” that we want? Power? Influence? Riches? Fame? The ability to manipulate others in order to have things our way? Why would anyone who seeks God’s will want those things?

Froward

The “froward” man could also be called “wicked” (NLT), “devious” (ESV), or “perverse” (NIV). The word here describes a man who turns away from God to do his own thing. This type of man, the oppressor, or “man of violence” (ESV), the Lord abhors. Again, why would a God-follower want to be like him?

Do you want to be happy? “Blessed (happy) is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful,” says King David (Psalm 1:1). Don’t choose the ways of the oppressor if you want to experience joy and peace.

What is it, then, that Solomon offers as an option? What can the righteous experience that the wicked cannot?

His Secret

The word translated “secret” (verse 32) comes from a word that means a couch cushion, or a triclinium (see Gesenius’s Lexicon). What is that, you ask? A triclinium was a three-sided couch on which the Greeks and Romans reclined when sharing a meal, or conducting casual conversation. It was a place symbolic of friendship, family, and intimacy. God is sickened by the perverse man, but the righteous is accepted at His personal table.

Don’t be like the man who turns from God; but be like the man who runs to Him. The result may not be the aquisition of wealth, power, and fame; but something far, far more valuable: secret, private communion with the Lord. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the almighty” – Psalm 91:1

What on earth could compare to hearing God say, “Come here, son, recline next to me. I want to share some things with you; things meant only for you, and no one else.” The “righteous” have that privilege, not the “oppressor.”

Dear Lord, keep me focused on you, not the things of others. I long to hear you speak in a still, small voice, “Come close, my child, I have a secret for you.” Cover me in the shadow of your wings.


Somebody’s Watching

The following post was first published in the current order after being missed during the original posts on the fifth chapter. I believe God knew someone needed it at the time it was published, and I believe He will use it to speak to someone today. 

Proverbs 5:21-33

“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” 

Reality TV

Reality television has taken over the airwaves. Nearly every one of the fourteen billion channels have at least one reality show, and there are even whole networks devoted to them. As I read the proverb for today, I couldn’t help thinking of a particular one involving security cameras.

It seems that criminals never learn. Either that, or they never watch reality TV. Do they not know that when they steal gasoline, rob a bank, or mug a toddler at the candy store, someone is watching? Have they never looked up? Have they never noticed that electronic eye mounted in a corner above them?

Never Looking Up

The same question might be asked of us with regards to sin. When will we ever learn that Someone is watching us? When will we look up? When will we notice the “eyes of the Lord?”

Addressing the issue of adultery, Solomon warns his sons that sin is not done in secret. No matter how dark the room, or secluded the hotel, “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth” (2 Chronicles 16:9a). Even though one’s husband or wife may not know, God does.

Why doesn’t the sinner look up? Too often he suffers from a form of tunnel vision. He is so focused on the temptation that he becomes blind to everything else, including that heavenly security camera above.

Bound by Sin. 

It may seem crazy that a criminal would forget cameras are watching his every move; but some the excuses they give, once caught, are equally insane. Some will literally watch video of themselves committing a crime, then deny it. They say, “That wasn’t me!”

In one program called “Bait Car,” police rig an automobile with hidden cameras. They also wire the care so that it can be remotely shut down and locked. When criminals steal the car, not only do they get filmed, but they get trapped.

Sin has a nasty habit of not letting go. The one who says “Just this once” usually gets bound by his actions. Once the fun is over, there is always a price to pay. Unfortunately for the wicked, most “die without instruction.”

Don’t Get Trapped

The Apostle Paul could have been speaking of the car thief or the adulterer in 1 Corinthians 3:19. The wisdom of the world leads the wicked to think he can get away with sin, but God “traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness” (NLT).

Yet, for those who have sinned – for those who have forgotten to “look up” – Jesus offers you freedom from the chains of sin. When one “sees Jesus” (John 12:21), he will not only “turn from his wicked ways,” but he will find One who can break the “cords of sin.”

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” –  Luke 4:18 KJV


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).


Working to Give

Proverbs 21:25-26

“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.”
“Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work. Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give!” – NLT

Work

As I sit here typing this “thought” for the day, my body is aching and my eyes are still blinking hard trying to bring the world into focus. Trying to make ends meet, I have been getting up early and going to bed late as I work on several different jobs and projects. Visiting, studying, making calls for work, painting cabinets, attending meetings, practicing music for a recording, and preaching have worn me out.

But if the truth be known, I would rather be tired from working than worn out from doing nothing. I would rather have a paycheck in a blistered hand than nothing in a soft, weak hand. I would rather say my bills are a little behind than say all my bills are paid by the government. I’d rather die from working than die from being lazy.

Giving

There are few things more enjoyable than to be able to give to others. The problem with the “slothful” is that he is always wanting, always greedy, always talking big and promising bigger, but never giving.

The reason the godly love to give is because they love to see others happy. As a matter of fact, Jesus says when when they give unto the least of His brothers and sisters, they give unto Him (Matt. 25:40), so giving becomes an offering of praise.

The slothful only care about themselves. They have nothing to give as a true offering, for nothing they have has any true value – they haven’t worked for it (See 2 Samuel 24:24).

Now, time to get back to work. I have some giving I’d like to do.


No Need for Stripes

Proverbs 19:29

“Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.”

Reality Shows

Have you ever watched reality television? “Reality shows,” as they are called, are television programs that seek to entertain the viewer with the craziness of other peoples’ lives. Reality television is usually anything but true reality, however. But what happened last night while I was preaching was anything but fake.

Before I get into the details of this post, it has been pointed out by more than one person that our family needs to star in its own reality TV show. The only problem is that no one would believe it.

It Happened During Church

Just after 9 p.m. I got a phone call from a concerned church member: “Pastor, are you all right? You OK?” “Well…yeah…I guess,” was my reply. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Come to find out, a lady across the street from our church wrote on Facebook that bounty hunters had shot at a man, chased him, and arrested him in our church parking lot – while church was going on! No one inside the church knew a thing! But what is even more amazing is that the man had come to visit our church, and his wife was in the sanctuary. She never knew her husband was taken away!

Why did all this happen? Evidently, the man was wanted for a parole violation, and they followed him to church. He and his wife had been in trouble many times, but they had visited Sunday morning and felt that it was time for a change. That is why they came back last night.

Judgments and Stripes

There is more to the above story, most of which is sad, but I told it in order to help make a point. You see, actions have consequences. Sin has a price. Even though this poor couple realized that they needed God in their lives, judgment caught up with them.

All is not lost, however. Many times God’s judgment is what it takes to open the eyes of the sinner. As I prayed with the woman whose husband was hauled away, I reminded her that the road ahead would be very hard, but that God loves her, and her husband.

By His Strips

This might be a good time to point out that wounded people need to be loved. Too many people feel unworthy to come to church, and it’s all because they feel like they will be judged, like everyone else is “better” than them. The fact is that we are all sinners, but Jesus bore the punishment for our crimes, so our job is to love each other as Christ loved us.

This man and woman may have to pay a temporal price for the sins they have committed. It may mean jail time. But there is no need for them, or you, to suffer the eternal penalty for sin – separation from God. Jesus took upon Himself our sins and bore them to the Cross (1 Peter 2:24). There He was “wounded for our transgressions, and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).”

Don’t continue to be a “scorner.” Don’t be a “fool.” 

“This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” – 1 John 4:10 NLT

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9 KJV