Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

What Are You Listening To?

Proverbs 17:4

“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” (KJV).

Be Careful What You Hear:

There is an old Sunday school song that says, “Oh be careful little ears what you hear!” It’s a fun song, but it also promotes a very Biblical principle. Jesus Himself said, “Therefore take heed how you hear.” (Luke 8:18a). To take heed means to be careful. We need to be careful what we choose to listen to! Words are powerful, and words can either bring life or death into people’s lives.

In today’s Scripture, Solomon gives us warnings about two different kinds of people: Wicked people, and liars. He tells us that a wicked person will give heed – or listen – to false lips, and a liar will give ear – or listen – to a naughty (malicious, spiteful, destructive) tongue. We know that as Christians, God doesn’t want us to be a wicked person or a liar. Therefore, we would be wise to not listen to false lips or naughty tongues.

False Lips and Naughty Tongues:

There are many false lips and naughty tongues in the world today. Wicked people and liars will use their lips and tongues to tell lies, slander people, gossip about others, and stir up strife and disunity – in families, churches, and indeed all relationships. Therefore, we must be on our guard against such people! It’s sad to say that you can even find those people… in the church. As a pastor, I can tell you that there is nothing more dangerous or harmful in a church than people who will stir up strife and division through their negative words!

So what do we do when we find ourselves surrounded by people with false lips and naughty tongues? We can’t just go and bury our heads in the sand or move into a monastery, can we? Of course not. However, we must still guard our hearts from such negative words. Elsewhere in Proverbs, Solomon gives us this warning: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). (Click HERE to read Jason’s devotional about this Scripture). Our ears and eyes are the windows to the heart, so we must be careful what we put into them.

How to Guard the Heart:

How can we keep our heart from being affected by hearing negative words – lying, strife, gossip, slander and more? First of all, make a decision that you will not allow your heart to be a garbage can for other people’s negative words. The next time someone starts gossiping to you, or talking negatively about someone else, refuse to listen to it. (And remember this – if someone will gossip to you, they will gossip about you! This is not the kind of friend you need…). And secondly, make a decision that you will watch your words, and make sure that no negative speech comes out of your mouth. Use your words to bring life to people!

Here’s a link to a youtube video of the old Sunday school song Oh Be Careful Little Eyes:

 


Who’s the Boss?

Proverbs 16:3

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (KJV). 

The Secret to Success:

What is the secret to success? The world tells us that we just need to “be positive, focus, be persistent and work hard!” Is that all it takes? Or is there something else that we can do if we want to do well in life? Eugene Peterson paraphrases today’s Scripture with these words: “Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.” (The Message).

Here are two important keys from the Scriptures that will help your plans to come to pass:

  1. Delight Yourself in the Lord:

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” If we want our thoughts to be established, and see our goals accomplished, the first thing we should do is spend time with God, and ask Him what His plans for our lives are. Too many Christians come up with their own ideas and plans and go to God and say, “Lord, will you bless my plans?” But those plans are not always His will for our lives, and so He may not bless them.

One of my favourite comic strips characters Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes went to his dad and said, “Will you buy me a flame thrower?” His response was, “No.” Does that mean that his dad didn’t love him? Of course not! But he knew his son well enough to know that if he gave into his request, it would have disastrous consequences. So, if we want to see our thoughts established, we must first spend time with the Lord and ask Him what He wants us to do.

This is one of the reasons why the ministry of Jesus was so successful. He only did what the Father told Him to do! Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.” (John 5:19). I was in ministry for several years before I learned this important principle: Instead of going to God with my plans and saying, “Would you bless them?” I now go to God and say, “What’s your plan for today, Father?”

  1. Walk in Obedience:

If we want God to see our plans succeed, we need to walk in obedience to the Lord. The first part of that is obedience to the general will of God as recorded in the Scriptures. James 1:25 says, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” The second part is obedience to the specific will of God for our lives, which is revealed to us in prayer. God has blessed us to be a blessing – who does He want you to bless today?

What is God calling you to do? Do it and it will be blessed!

Calvin & Hobbes - flame thrower

(Calvin & Hobbes (c) 2013 Bill Waterson).


Perception and Reality

Proverbs 16:2

“All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.”

The Way We See It

If I have heard it said once, I have heard it said a thousand times, “perception is reality.” And if I have puked once…

What is it with man’s twisted view of reality and truth? Where do we get the idea that reality is what we perceive it to be? Is truth really relative to our own perception of the way things are? Just because a person believes something to be true doesn’t make it true, only believed.

Have you ever argued with someone who is color-blind over the color of a tie? Have you ever tried to convince someone dying of thirst that it’s not really water, but a mirage? Have you ever tried to convince a 3-year-old that germs are real and that hands need to be washed before eating? Some people think they know what they see, but they don’t.

Clean Drunks

Several years ago I was unfortunate enough to transport a bunch of college kids to a party. It was unfortunate because long before some of them ever got on the school bus they had already been drinking.

The place they were going to was up a mountain. About 5 minutes into the trip, about the third or fourth curve, one girl decided to vomit on the window, down the inside wall, and between the seats. It was all liquid, all alcohol, and all nasty. A few minutes later she felt she was ready to go party some more, for, in her eyes, she was perfectly clean. The only problem was that we (everyone on the bus) could tell she was soaked…in other words, we weighed the “spirits.”

God Sees Everything

When it comes to self-perception, reality is what God sees. He not only sees the outside, but the heart is bare before Him. As the proverb says, a man may consider himself clean, which is his own perception of reality, but the Lord knows what’s really going on.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

It is foolish for men to try to justify their sinful, dirty actions before a holy God. It is foolish to depend on our own perception of what is right and wrong. Our eyes only want to see what makes us look good, not evil.

That is why we need God’s wisdom.

 


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.”


Two Roads

Proverbs 14:2

“He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.” (KJV).
“Those who follow the right path fear the LORD; those who take the wrong path despise him.” (NLT).

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost:

  • I shall be telling this with a sigh,
  • Somewhere ages and ages hence:
  • Two roads diverged in a wood and I –
  • I took the one less traveled by
  • And that has made all the difference 

Often, the references to roads in poetry are metaphors to make us think of our lives and how we live them. Even Jesus used this metaphorical sense in talking about roads when He said, “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14).

Everyone wonders: how do we find the road to the blessed life?  Jesus said that this road is the road less traveled by – that there are few who find it – and that it will make all the difference, for this is the road that leads to life. I believe this is what Solomon was talking about in the above Proverb:

The First Road – The Wrong Path:

The first road that Jesus talks about is the wide road that leads to destruction. He says there are many people who walk on that road. Proverbs 14:2 says that those who are perverse in their ways – those who take the wrong path – show that they despise God by walking on this road. It’s like God put up a big sign that said, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here” and yet foolish people still choose that road. The road of sin, rebellion, and ultimately death. But there is another road…

The Second Road – The Right Path:

The second road that Jesus talks about is the narrow and difficult way that leads to life. He says that – sadly – there are few who find this road. Proverbs 14:2 says that those who walk in their uprightness – those who follow the right path – fear the Lord. And here is the key to walking on the right path. It starts with a fear of the Lord.

To fear the Lord doesn’t mean that we are afraid of Him. However, it does mean that we respect Him, and when He says, “This is the way, walk in it,” we obey. Because we trust Him. And we know that the commands that He gives to us are for our own good.

Today, you are standing at a crossroads. Two roads diverge in a wood. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for those who choose the easy way. But the road to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few find it. Take the narrow road – the road less traveled by. It will make all the difference in your life!


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.


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).