Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

The Praise Test

Proverbs 27:21.
“As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.” (KJV).
“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.” (NLT). 

Student Writing

The Purpose of the Test:

I don’t know of anyone who enjoys tests. I have three children in high school and one child in middle school, and none of them have ever expressed a joy about having to take a test. I’ve never heard one of them come home from school and say, “Dad, I’m so excited, we get to take a test at school tomorrow! I’ll have to study all night. Awesome!” But like it or not, if they were never tested, they would never know if they were learning anything in their classes, and they would never know if they were growing or progressing in their studies.

In today’s Proverb, Solomon tells us that the refiner’s fire is used to test the purity of silver and gold. As these precious metals are heated up, all of the scum and junk that’s hidden within them come to the surface so that the refiner can remove it from the top, so all that remains is precious and pure. In the same way, a person is tested when they are praised.

The Fire of Praise:

When you stoke up the fire of praise, you will quickly find out what is in a person’s heart. Someone said once about praise that “vain men seek it, weak men are inflated by it, and wise men disregard it.” How do you respond when someone praises you?

If someone becomes proud or conceited when they are praised, and take the glory that only God deserves, they will show that they are really a weak or a selfish person. However, if when someone is praised he responds by giving God the glory, and endeavouring to live a life that reflects that shows that they were indeed praiseworthy, then they are a humble or a wise person.

There is a story told that at a Washington, D.C., press conference in 1952, Sir Winston Churchill was asked, “Doesn’t it thrill you to know that every time you make a speech the hall is packed to overflowing?” Churchill responded by saying, “It is quite flattering, but whenever I feel this way I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.”

Giving and Receiving Praise:

We’re not saying here that praise is bad. It’s not necessarily bad to give or receive praise. In fact, Romans 12:3 tells us that we are to give honor to whom honor is due. But we are also warned: “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2).

So if you see someone do something praiseworthy, commend them for it! But if you do something noble, don’t boast about it. Do it as unto the Lord, and let him reward you for what you have done. If someone praises you for something you do, then reflect that glory back to the Lord, the one who gave you the grace to do it in the first place. Amen?


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.’


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!


Forever Family

Proverbs 27:10.

“Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.” (KJV).

Never Abandon a Friend:

It’s unfortunate that we’re living in a world today where people don’t value friendships like they once did. Ours is a throwaway society where – if people get upset, hurt or offended – they abandon friendships. One of the biggest signs of our times is the fact that there is even a button on the social networking site Facebook where you can unfriend people!

In another Proverb, Solomon writes that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (17:17) and “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (18:24). Ultimately, I believe those verses best describe our friendship with Jesus, but they are also an example for us to follow: to love at all times, to help people in their day of adversity, and to stick closer than a brother.

When Things Get Rough:

The Hebrew word eyd that is translated as calamity here means distress, burden or calamity. It is also translated in other versions of the Bible as “disaster”, “in your time of need” and “when things get rough” (The Message). In other words, when life happens! We all have days like that – like over a month ago when my oldest son Caleb was in a car accident. He and three of his football teammates were in a terrible collision that resulted in all of them being taken to the hospital. One of them had a concussion. Another one broke his nose. I thank the Lord that he and his friends are alive and recovering nicely. However, a month later and we are still working things out with our auto insurance company. The day of calamity, indeed!

Solomon gives us this advice for what to do in the day of calamity: Go to a friend for help. This is why it’s important that we never abandon friends, because we never know when we will need a helping hand. In the New Testament, over and over again we are encouraged to bear one another’s burdens, or share each other’s troubles and problems (Galatians 6:2). It is important though that as much as we should be willing to help others, we also need to learn how to ask people for help when we are in need as well.

We are Family:

I thank God for the church. The church is the family of God, and the Bible tells us that God sets the solitary in families. Church is a place where we can love and care for one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, and help each other.

If you don’t attend a local church, I want to encourage you to find a good Bible-believing church in your community and get involved. You will find support, help and hope there! And if you do attend a church, be faithfully committed to being a part of the body of believers there. Even though you might be doing well and feel like you don’t need them, maybe someone there needs what you have to give. We are family!


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.’


Afflicted and Ruined

Proverbs 26:28.
“A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” (KJV). 

Life Lessons:

There are three main places where we go to learn things. One is the home – where we learn from our parents. Ideally, we learn here values, morals, good habits and etiquette. Second is the school, where we learn the three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic. (I know, neither writing nor arithmetic – math – start with the letter ‘R’, but that’s what they used to call it back in the day). And finally, the third is the church, where we learn about the love of God, how to know Him, how there’s a hell to shun and a Heaven to gain.

At church, we have the benefit of learning from the wisest of all wise – God Himself. The Bible is the Word of God, and in it we learn wise lessons for living life. I want to challenge you, reader – do you read the Bible? If not, then what are you waiting for? A virtual treasure trove of wisdom awaits you!

SpurgeonCharles Spurgeon, an old Baptist preacher from the 19th Century (known affectionately as the Prince of Preachers) had this to say about the Bible: “The best food for you is the word of God itself. Sermons and books are well enough, but streams that run for a long distance above ground gradually gather for themselves somewhat of the soil through which they flow, and they lose the cool freshness with which they started from the spring head. Truth is sweetest where it breaks from the smitten Rock, for at its first gush it has lost none of its heavenliness and vitality. It is always best to drink at the well and not from the tank. You shall find that reading the word of God for yourselves, reading it rather than notes upon it, is the surest way of growing in grace.” The challenge is this: Read the Bible!

Warnings against Lying and Flattery:

After that lengthy introduction, let us now come to today’s text. Here Solomon says: “A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattery causes ruin.” (NLT). Let us look at both of these warnings separately here.

First of all, in the KJV of this verse, Solomon tells us that a lying tongue causes affliction. The original Hebrew word sheqer translated lying means lie, deception, disappointment, falsehood, deceit, fraud, wrong, to testify falsely. And when you lie, you cause affliction. That Hebrew word dak means to oppress or crush someone. Anytime you lie about someone, you are afflicting, oppressing or crushing them. Think about that the next time you go to tell a lie! And Solomon also says here that when you lie about someone, it shows that you hate them.

Secondly, Solomon tells us that a flattering mouth works ruin. Flattery means to praise or compliment insincerely, effusively, or excessively. I don’t mind an encouraging word of affirmation if it is sincere, but someone who flatters insincerely causes ruin. So be warned – our words are powerful, and if we don’t use them wisely, we can cause affliction and bring ruin!