Tag Archives: relationships

Misjudged

Proverbs 28:21
To have respect of persons is not good: for a piece of bread that man will transgress.”
To show partiality is not good, Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.” (NASB)

Being Wary

Sadly, we live in a world dominated by people who like to take advantage of others.

This is important to remember.

There are so many friendly faces and wealthy people to whom people turn in trust for the simple reason that they appear trustworthy or might be able pull some strings.

Another example that comes to mind is of all of those people out there who add to their resumes to get jobs. Through their resumes, they pretend to have received certain degrees, awards, and accolades, or they insert false positions at companies to make it appear they have more experience.

There are also stories of people who are passed over for promotions, and they end up stealing from the company.

It can be easy to misjudge people if we only look at face value and never dig beneath the surface.

Ultimately, only God knows the heart of people.

The Disciples’ Misunderstanding

I could not help but think of one famous biblical story as I read this proverb.

Jesus sat down for His last meal with His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion. Toward the end of the meal, Jesus is breaking bread with them, and then He sends Judas Iscariot to do what he would do.

The other Eleven disciples thought perhaps “that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor.” (John 13:29, NASB)

Instead, Judas went to the Jewish leaders to help them arrest and kill Jesus.

The other disciples misjudged their friend, and Judas sinned against the Bread of Life.

God, help us to not show partiality or favoritism but to treat others with justice. Give us the strength to do what is right even when we disagree or are wronged. Help us to show Your love and grace in all circumstances.

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Iron Men

Proverbs 27:17.

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” (KJV).

Iron Man

Men’s Ministry:

In addition to our weekly Sunday morning worship service, we also have many different specialized ministries in our church: We have a children’s ministry program which includes classes on Sundays where our kids can learn the Bible at their level of understanding. We have a youth group program for our grade 7-12 students that I have the joy of being personally involved with. We have a Christian 12-step recovery program called Overcomer’s Outreach, home groups, women’s ministry, and a men’s ministry. For some reason, the most challenging ministry we have in our church is our men’s ministry.

For as long as I have been the pastor of our church, we have had a challenge getting a good, solid men’s ministry group in place. Our main monthly meeting has been a breakfast meeting where the men gather for fellowship and to hear a challenging or inspiring teaching or testimony. However, we always seem to have a hard time getting men to commit to coming out. I’m not sure why, and I wonder if other churches have the same issues.

An Attack Against Men:

I wonder if part of the reason for this is the fact that our enemy – Satan – has declared war on the souls of men. True, he hates the entire human race, but for some reason, he is targeting the men, and trying to keep them from living totally sold-out lives for the Lord. I think he knows that if God can get a hold of a man’s heart, that he can do great things for God. Think about what would happen if we had more men in the church like Paul and Barnabas, “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 15:26).

And so this is why the enemy tries to keep men busy. Whether it is by fostering a workaholic attitude or getting them out of balance and distracted by things like sports, hunting or fishing, his goal is that they neglect their necessary roles as husbands, fathers, and men of God in the church. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those things in and of themselves – it’s all about balance).

We Need Iron Men!

Today’s Proverb is the theme verse for the men’s ministry in our church: “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” What Solomon is saying here is that we as men need to be in fellowship with one another – in strong, deep, mentoring relationships with one another, so that we can stay sharp and in keen. In our relationship with Jesus. In our relationships with our wives and children. In our relationships with others in the church and in the world.

The preacher Dwight Moody is quoted as having said: “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. I will try my utmost to be that man.” Will you? If you’re not involved in a meaningful, mentoring relationship with other men in your church who you are accountable to, I want to challenge you to do so today. Let’s sharpen one another in the Lord!


Wandering Away

Proverbs 27:8

As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.”

Birds

A nest is an important place for a bird.

In their nest, a bird finds:

  • a home;
  • security from many predators, and related to this
  • a safe place to eat;
  • eggs, which lead to
  • young.

If a bird wanders away from its nest, it could potentially lose all of that.

Men … and Women

There decidedly has been a breakdown of the family over the past half-century. Many a man and woman has left a family to seek “happiness” or some other distant goal.

Divorce rates are currently around 50% in the Western world.

Single parenthood has been steadily rising.

The definition of marriage has been altered.

New definitions of “love” have come to the fore.

And what does it mean?

There is a lack of relational security for these people. Children learn confusing things about love and acceptance. There is a loss of absolute truth in many minds.

And what does this lead to?

Not happiness. Often it leads to pain, confusion, heartache, lack of direction, and lack of security in general.

What does God say?

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Mark 10:9, NIV

A man (or woman) who wanders from his place is the one who leaves behind his family and responsibility.

A man or woman who wanders from the Lord leaves behind God and responsibility.

Where does that leave you?

Heavenly Father, give us intimacy in our relationships, strength to endure struggles and to hold on, and a love we cannot comprehend. Teach us to be faithful through Your Holy Spirit.


No Lone Rangers!

Proverbs 27:5.

“Open rebuke is better than secret love.” (KJV). 

When I was a student at Pacific Life Bible College (I graduated in 1999, so this was a while back!), I learned an important statistic that I have never forgotten. Seven out of ten leaders – men and women called by God to the ministry – will fail. They will either leave the ministry because of moral failure and are disqualified, or they will give up because they are burned out or discouraged. Do you know what the three out of ten leaders that finished well had in common? Only one thing: accountability relationships with another Christian.

What is accountability? The dictionary defines it as to be “responsible to someone or for some action; answerable.” In other words, God wants us to be responsible for one another, to help each other to grow in the Lord! When Solomon says that an open rebuke is better than hidden love, it means that sometimes in our friendships, we need to challenge our friends, when we see them getting off track or into something that we know is dangerous. These wounds from a friend may hurt, but the ultimate result is to help them to grow. It’s like iron sharpening iron – we challenge each other to be the best that we can be.

The Lone RangerI’ve said many times before that there are no Lone Rangers in the Body of Christ. I remember watching re-runs of that old western TV show when I was a kid, the story of a masked Texas Ranger who fought injustice in the Wild West. (Actually, they have recently made a movie version of this story starring Johnny Depp, though I haven’t seen it yet).

Ironically, even though his name was the Lone Ranger, he still had a trusty side-kick, a Native American named Tonto. Batman had Robin. Frodo had Samwise. Robin Hood had his merry men. And Jesus sent His disciples out two by two for a very good reason. You must not go through life alone! “Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Lord, give us the courage to be open and honest in our relationships, and allow people to speak correction into our lives. Help us to realize that we need one another if we are going to finish well! And give us the courage to speak the truth in love, and openly rebuke our friends when that might be necessary. In Jesus’ name, amen!


Trouble’s Not My Friend

Proverbs 22:24-25

Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

Just Mad

At first glance it might seem like “angry” would be self-explanatory. We’ve all seen someone throw a tantrum. We’ve all gotten furious over something. There’s nothing unusual about losing one’s temper once in a while. But when Solomon advises us to stay away from an angry or furious man, he is not referring to a man who throws his popcorn when his favorite team loses the championship in the last second of the game. We’ve all done that…right?

No, this proverb is talking about people who are always angry, always furious, always upset over something. It’s a warning to stay away from people like that, unless, of course, you want to start acting just like them.

Contagious Anger

  • Women-haters. Hang around these guys very long and you’ll never find love. However, you could start a club.
  • Disgruntled employees. Talk about angry! They make the water in the water cooler boil. Unfortunately, those who listen to them too long tend to overlook the blessing of being employed and end up out of work.
  • Bitter wives and jilted lovers. Talk about furious! Hide all sharp objects and weapons of any kind when you’re in their presence unless you want to get hurt. Better yet, don’t listen to them for too long or you might end up being  recruited to exact their revenge.
  • Political conspiracy theorists. They mean well, but they’re not well. They see grander schemes than actually exist and draw others into their paranoia.
  • Church gossips. They’re typically angry because things aren’t going their way. They look for ways to tear down others while they sap the joy and faith out of you. Before long you become one of them.

Why be like the angry and furious man? Is not God in control? Prolonged anger signifies a heart problem fueled by selfish demands, so is it worth a snare to the soul?

Avoid Trouble

The next time Mr. Trouble comes around looking for a companion, politely excuse yourself; he’s not your friend.

Rather, make Jesus your friend; He is gentle and lowly of heart. Instead of a snare, He will give rest to your soul (Matthew 11:29).


Dealing with Troublemakers

Proverbs 22:10.

“Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.” (KJV). 

Building the Church:

I don’t know where it has come from, but we’ve got this idea in the church today that we need to keep everyone who walks through our doors. “We don’t want to lose anyone!” However, I would like to suggest to you today that maybe this isn’t the healthiest perspective to have when it comes to building the church.

Every church is full of good people and bad people – those who love the Lord and want to honor and obey Him, and those who don’t. However, the seeker-driven church model today is so anxious to get more and more people to join the church that they give no thought to lifestyle concerns, and will let anyone in if they would simply make a profession of faith. However, this leads to all sorts of problems!

If you let people join your church who don’t believe in your mission or vision, they’re not going to help fulfill God’s purpose for your church. In fact you might even find them fighting against what the Lord is calling you to do. (Incidentally, the word division comes from two words: di meaning two, and vision. Two visions). This is one of the many different situations that wise King Solomon is addressing in today’s Proverb.

Kick out the Troublemakers:

In the Message paraphrase of our Bible verse, Eugene Peterson writes: “Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down; you need a break from bickering and griping!” In other words, if you have someone in your church who is a troublemaker, then it’s probably best to ask them to leave – for the good of the church!

One of my life verses is Psalm 133 which says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious (anointing) oil… For there the Lord commanded the blessing– Life forevermore.” In other words, when a church (or a family) lives in unity, that’s where God’s anointing (presence), blessing, and eternal life can be found. But where there is strife, there is every evil work. That’s why it’s better to remove the troublemaker, for the sake of the unity in the church.

The Pruning of the Lord:

Now – this isn’t easy! As a pastor, I am thankful that I have never had to actually do this, although there are times where we have had troublemakers in our church. Thankfully, the Lord in His graciousness did some pruning and removed them from our body before they could to any more damage than they already had. And in every circumstance where the Lord brought about a pruning and removed a troublemaker, we found that the church always grew again in a better and a healthier way. So maybe a good starting point in dealing with a troublemaker is asking the Lord to do the pruning, so you don’t have to!


Under Another

Proverbs 22:7

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Buying a House

My wife and I just bought our first house.

Technically, it is not really ours, because we have to pay the bank for buying it for us. That means, for up to 30 years, the bank owns our house.

During that time, the bank owns our money. We have to give to them, or they can take from us our dwelling place! We serve them until the debt is paid.

Emotional Dependency

Banks may have financial superiority over many a homeowner, but there are other ways people control others.

The emotionally weak person will be either controlled by those who are more out of control of their emotions or inadvertently control their relationships out of their need.

The former situation has the person whose emotions are all over the place seeking power over the weaker person. They are rich in emotional intensity that they cannot control, therefore they control someone else.

The latter situation has the emotionally needy person draining others’ time and emotions. In this sense, it can be seen as the one rich in need has control over the person poor of need.

Neither is morally justifiable, but it happens all the time.

Moral Superiority

We all find ourselves in some emotional or moral need from time to time or for our entire lives.

There is One who is in perfect control of His emotions, and, though completely sovereign, He does not force us to obey Him, but He calls all people to repentance and forgiveness.

God wants us to live godly lives, not lives of manipulation of strong over weak.

Heavenly Father, help us to be good stewards of all that You have entrusted to us: finances, possessions, emotions, and each other. Guide us by the Holy Spirit into all righteousness, and rule over our hearts with Your grace and love.