Tag Archives: Proverb

The Here and Now

Proverbs 21:7

“The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment.”

Karma

Maybe you’ve heard people say, “What goes around comes around.” The meaning is, like a big circle, life has a way of coming back around. Some people call it karma.

I don’t believe in karma, however. As a matter of fact, karma is a theological idea that is linked to the unbiblical teaching of reincarnation. Karma doesn’t deal with the hear-and-now, only the yet-to-be-known. It pushes the consequences of this life into the unknown of tomorrow, leaving one never knowing for sure what tomorrow holds.

Some may read this proverb and conclude that it is similar to the idea of karma, but it is not. The consequences in this verse deal with the ones committing the wickedness, the judgement of which will be known in due time. In other words, this proverb deals with consequences that will be felt by the wicked doing the crime, not their poor, unwitting, future incarnations.

Consequences

One of the hardest things to do is convince children that their bad actions may result in painful consequences – in this life. Recently, a father I know (not me) was telling his daughter that she was being rude to others and that her selfish, hateful comments would get her in to trouble. No sooner than he warned the young girl, a cry of pain rang out. The little girl had gotten slapped by her older sister, which then resulted in the little girl getting a spanking, too.

When we refuse “to do judgement” and go about with our “robbery” like nothing in this life will ever happen, we live as fools.

“The wicked conceive evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies. They dig a deep pit to trap others, then fall into it themselves. The trouble they make for others backfires on them. The violence they plan falls on their own heads.” – Psalm 7:14-16 NLT

It is unwise to think that we can live however we please and push the consequences down the road. The end of the road may be just around the corner, and there a toll must be paid.

 


Sweet Stolen Bread

Proverbs 20:17

“Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.” (KJV)

The Pleasures of Sin:

I’m not going to lie to you – sin feels good. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t sin all the time, would they? The Bible says that sin is pleasurable… for a season (Hebrews 11:25). In the above Proverb, Solomon tells us that the bread of deceit is sweet to a man. In a literal sense he is saying that stolen bread tastes sweet, but in a figurative sense, I believe he is also talking about sin.

The term the bread of deceit reminds us that sin is deceitful. It looks and tastes good, but in the end it leads to death. When the devil first tempted Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, it says that “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” (Gen. 3:6).

Before I became a Christian, I used to go out and get drunk with my friends. And I had fun doing it! Eating, drinking and being merry, getting drunk, dancing and partying was fun. For a season. A season that usually lasted until the next morning.

The Consequences of Sin:

When I woke up the next morning after a night of drunken partying, I was often hung over and feeling sick. There was one night when I had gotten so drunk that I blacked out and didn’t even remember the things I had done the night before. (Apparently I threw up in the backseat of a friend’s car, and they took pictures of me passed out in a ditch. Thank God they didn’t have Facebook back then!). I often felt guilty and ashamed of my behaviour while drunk.

Sin had promised pleasure, but instead provided pain and destruction. I think this is what Solomon means by the bread turning to gravel in your mouth. Sin may be pleasurable for a season, but in the end it leads to death.

A Harvest of Blessing:

So how should we respond to this warning? I believe Paul gives us a great application point in Galatians 6:8-9: “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” (NLT).

I spent the first 18 years of my life serving sin and Satan, and enjoyed the fleeting pleasures of sin. But I can honestly say that for the past 22 years, I have had more fun serving God, loving people, and doing good. There’s a joy that comes from a life that is surrendered to Jesus Christ. Live for Him today!


Mexican Haggling

Proverbs 20:14

“It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.” (KJV).
“The buyer haggles over the price, saying, “It’s worthless,” then brags about getting a bargain!” (NLT).

Haggling in Mexico:

In 2005, my mom blessed my wife Liza and me by sending us on a trip to Mexico to celebrate our ten year anniversary. While we were there, we enjoyed relaxing on the beach, reading and resting. There was one thing that Liza wanted to do while we were there: shopping.

I’m not a fan of shopping on the best of days. When Liza and I go to the mall, I will walk around with her for a little while, but inevitably, I will reach my limit and have to go find a food court so I can go sit down with a coffee to hopefully read a good book. But one of the things I wasn’t looking forward to was the obligatory haggling that would ensue on our shopping excursion.

Here’s an example of haggling from an old Monty Python movie…

One time a street vendor approached Liza and tried to sell her some bracelets for $60 each. Now, the bracelets weren’t worth anywhere near that, but my wife didn’t know how to haggle – even though it was welcomed and expected in Mexico. She had paid thirty dollars for a cowboy hat earlier that day (it was hot and she needed it) and we later saw it selling for $10-20 in other shops we entered. I told the vendor that the bracelets were more money than we were willing to pay, and so he offered to sell us three of them for $20 in total. So I bought them for Liza.

The Boasting Buyer:

How does the above story – and the concept of haggling or bartering – apply to today’s Scripture? Solomon is talking about a man who goes to a shop or the market to buy goods and he undervalues them, and says that they are no good, but after purchasing the items for a lower price, he goes away and boasts about his purchase. Does this mean that we shouldn’t haggle or barter for items? Not necessarily.

The issue that Solomon is dealing with here is the dishonest means that some would use to get a good deal. Matthew Henry says, “See how apt men are to be pleased with their gettings and proud of their tricks; whereas a fraud and a lie are what a man ought to be ashamed of, though he have gained ever so much by them.” John Gill also says the Scripture describes a buyer who feels like he has outwitted the seller “and so glories in his frauds and tricks, and rejoices in his boasting, and all such rejoicing is evil.”

So what is the universal principle behind this Bible verse that we can apply to our lives? God wants us to be honest and generous in all of our financial dealings, whether we are buying or selling. No dishonesty. No cheating. No stealing.


Beer is Good?

Proverbs 20:1

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (KJV). 

God is Great and Beer is Good…

Ahhh… family weddings. The pattern of these events is always the same: ceremony, reception, and then dancing! And with the dancing comes an abundance of country music songs. One of the popular songs that always makes it out onto the dance floor is a song by Billy Currington called People are Crazy. In this story song, he tells the tale about meeting an old man in a bar who tells him, “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.”

Now while it is true that God is great (and few would argue with the fact that people are crazy!) is it true that beer is good? What does the Bible have to say about drinking alcohol? This has been a controversial topic among Christians for many years. The Bible does not have a black and white standard that says, “thou shalt not drink alcohol” but it does say a lot on the topic. Our Scripture teaches us that people who drink become mockers and fighters, and if you are led astray by alcohol, you are not wise. Still though it doesn’t say you cannot drink. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the following Scripture gives a real clear picture into some of the dangers of drinking alcohol:

Warnings Against Drunkenness

“Who are the people who are always crying the blues? Who do you know who reeks of self-pity? Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all? Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is serious business. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with – the splitting headache, the queasy stomach. Do you really prefer seeing double, with your speech all slurred, Reeling and seasick, drunk as a sailor? “They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt; they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing. When I’m sober enough to manage it, bring me another drink!” (Prov. 23:29-35).

So the Bible doesn’t say that you can’t drink alcohol, it just makes it abundantly clear that if you do, you can ruin your life! How many people have destroyed their lives or the lives of their families through the use of alcohol? My dad was an alcoholic who abandoned our family, so I know firsthand the negative effects of alcohol.

Finally, although the Bible doesn’t forbid the use of alcohol, it does state that drunkenness is a sin: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation.” (Eph. 5:18). (Note – just because it says don’t be drunk with wine doesn’t mean it’s okay to get drunk on beer or rum or another form of alcohol!). Drunkenness leads to dissipation (excess in the KJV), a word that means an abandoned, dissolute, wasted life.

So – is beer good? You be the judge!


Help the Poor

Proverbs 19:17

“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” (KJV).

Help the Poor:

The first thing we see here is that God wants us to help the poor. Jesus said, “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good.” (Mark 14:7). But who are the poor, and what does it mean to help the poor?

In his book, The Power of Generosity, Dave Toycen (President of World Vision Canada) writes: “Living in the twenty-first century offers tremendous opportunities to those who have, but for the three billion people of the world living on less than two dollars a day it’s a crushing existence of grinding poverty, despair, and unremitting daily challenges.”

In the Western World (those of you reading in Canada, the United States, England, etc), none of us think that we’re rich, but the truth is, we are. If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world. That’s a sobering thought, isn’t it? I have been on several missions trips to countries like Mexico and Costa Rica, and I can testify to the fact that we really do have it good.

To those of you reading this blog post today: We are the rich, and God has called us to help the poor. What does that look like? It could be as simple as giving money to a family that you know that is struggling financially, taking a homeless person for lunch, or giving money to mission works in third world countries.

Lend to the Lord and He Will Repay:

The Lord gives us a wonderful promise in this Proverb. When we give to the poor, we are actually lending to the Lord! This was echoed by Jesus in Matthew 25:34-40:

“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me… inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” 

When we help the poor, we are lending to the Lord, and when we lend to the Lord, He will repay us. We will reap what we sow. When we care for those that God cares about, He takes care of our needs, too. So trust Him today, and look for ways to help the poor around you. Amen!

Lord, we have so much, but we are often selfish and unthankful people. Open our eyes to the poor and needy around us, so we can help them with your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Restrained Anger

Proverbs 19:11

“The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” (KJV).
“People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.” (NLT).

In Your Anger, Don’t Sin:

It’s not wrong to get angry. Anger is an emotion, and when bad things happen to us, we will feel angry. However, the Bible says, “Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Eph. 4:26, NLT). So anger itself is not a sin, but what we do with that emotion is what makes it either good or bad. If we let that anger control us or we explode and hurt other people with our words or actions, we have sinned.

The above Proverb tells us that a man’s discretion (or good sense, NLT) causes them to restrain their anger. When they are hurt, wronged, or offended, instead of lashing out in anger, they pass over the transgression. They choose to overlook the wrong. Or – they forgive.

Increase our Faith!

There’s an interesting story in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus is teaching His disciples about offenses and forgiveness. He said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” (Luke 17:1,3-4).

What makes this story interesting is not just this hard statement about forgiveness, but how the disciples responded. They said, “Increase our faith!” In the past, Jesus had told them to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, and cast out devils, and they never asked Jesus for more faith. But when Jesus told them they had to forgive, they said, “We need help with this Jesus!”

How to Deal with Your Anger:

Jesus made it clear that offenses are going to come, and most of our anger comes from being hurt or offended by someone. We are living in a sin-cursed earth with hurting people who are hurting other people. So what do you do when you get hurt?

First of all, there is another Proverb that says, “He who covers a transgression seeks love.” (Prov. 17:9). To cover a transgression means you are willing to overlook it or forgive it. Because God has been gracious to us and forgiven us, we should extend grace to others and forgive them, too.

Secondly, the Bible tells us that Jesus is the one who heals our broken hearts (Luke 4:18). If someone hurts you, take it to the Lord in prayer and ask for His healing. Spend time abiding in Jesus in prayer, and allow the fruit of the Spirit – which includes peace, kindness and self-control – to replace the anger. Amen! Receive His healing and forgiveness, and be at peace today.


Honking Escalade

Proverbs 16:19

“Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

Rich and Poor

Not all poor people are humble. Not all rich people are proud. We should never jump to conclusions and assume that just because a man is poor he is humble, or prideful if he is rich.

That being said, today’s proverb addresses the heart of man, and that heart is usually more proud when he is rich, humble when he is poor. For instance, the people who blew their horn at my wife and I, as we sat at a stop sign and couldn’t go anywhere, were in a big Cadillac Escalade. They honked at us, but we didn’t honk at the little old lady in front of us who couldn’t decide where to go. (That actually happened just a few moments before writing this)

Riches and Poverty

This proverb also addresses the misconception that wealth is better than poverty. Sure, to have more money and possessions can be a great blessing, but it can also be a curse far worse than being destitute.

This verse also addresses the misguided belief that “the one with the most” wins. Many only have “the most” because they have taken advantage of those who have little.

The NIV translates this verse, “Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” It might not always be the poor and rich we’re talking about, but the oppressed and the oppressors. Either way, the one who is worse off in God’s eyes is the one who sits with those who have become wealthy by taking from others, and is proud of it.

Be Content

Let us consider Proverbs 16:19 as we observe the words of the Apostle Paul…

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

Ultimately, it’s better to have nothing and a humble heart, than have everything and be at odds with our God.

(I hope the horn on that Escalade breaks and starts blowing when they’re behind a State Trooper)

 

 


Control Your Anger

Proverbs 14:29

“He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.” (KJV).
“Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes.” (NLT).

The Emotion of Anger

The Book of Proverbs gives us a smorgasbord of wisdom that applies to every area of our life: It gives us wisdom in our relationships, family life, dealing with finances and walking in righteousness. But it also gives us a window into our heart, and helps us to consider our emotions as well. In the above Proverb, Solomon addresses the emotion of anger.

Anger is not necessarily a bad thing. It is an emotion, and when we are treated unfairly, we are going to get angry. However, what we do with that emotion is what makes it good or evil. If we can control our anger, it proves that we have great understanding. But those with a hasty temper will make mistakes. I’ve seen people get angry and then do things that they later regretted, impulsive and often embarrassing mistakes. When we control our anger, we can avoid some of those blunders.

How do we control our anger?

So what is the antidote to a person who struggles with anger? It’s easy to say, “Stop being so angry!” But it’s another thing entirely to try to control those emotions in your own life. What is the answer then? I believe it’s found in a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to a church in Galatia. He starts out by identifying the problem: “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21). He then gives the solution: “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23).

How do we get more of this fruit of the Spirit in our lives? Spend time with Jesus in prayer! Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

Lord, help us to abide in the secret place of prayer, abiding in Jesus the Vine, so we can bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Amen!


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.”


Attaining Dreams

Proverbs 13:19

“The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.” (KJV).

If I Believe It, I Can Achieve It?

There was a popular song by R&B singer R Kelly from 1996 called “I believe I can fly.” It hit the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The song boasted, “If I can see it, then I can do it, if I just believe it, there’s nothing to it… I believe I can fly.” Really? If I can see something then I can do it? All I have to do is believe it and I can achieve it? I don’t think so!

Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I’m all for being positive, but just because you want something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I can have a desire to be the best basketball player in the history of the world – rival to that of Michael Jordan – but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

Think about it for a minute: What kid hasn’t dreamed of being able to fly like Superman? As a child, I remember donning a red cape and leaping off of the diving board into the swimming pool, but the end result was always the same: I got wet. (Fortunately, unlike some foolish daredevils, I never tried this feat off of the top of a roof!).

Put Your Dream to the Test:

A couple of years ago I was preparing to write my first non-fiction book Supernatural: Contending for Signs and Wonders Today. When I sat down to accomplish my goal of writing and publishing my first book, I came across an excellent book by John Maxwell called Put Your Dream to the Test. John Maxwell says that the difference between a dreamer and someone who achieves a dream lies in answering ten powerful questions.

One of Maxwell’s questions included The Cost Question: “Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?” That question made me think of our Scripture in Proverb 13:19: “It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools will not turn from evil to attain them.” (NLT). When your desire is accomplished, it is sweet to the soul. But a fool isn’t willing to pay the price – turn from evil – to achieve his dreams.

To Accomplish Your Dreams:

The Bible says 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). God wants us to dream big dreams! But, if we want to see those dreams come true, we must be willing to do what it takes to accomplish them.

When I wanted to finish writing and publishing my first book, I set a goal for myself to write a minimum of 15 minutes a day until I was finished. Quite often, those 15 minutes ended up being much longer, but I had a goal and I stuck with it, and saw my dream become a reality. If you’re willing to put God first in your life, you can see your dreams realized, too.