Tag Archives: righteous

The Weighed-Down and the Beaten

Proverbs 17:26

Also to punish the just is not good, nor to strike princes for equity.”
If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good, surely to flog honest officials is not right.” (NIV)

There are many ways to go with this verse.

We could look at the injustices between the rich and the poor, the government and the people, or families.

Here is another track:

Religious Leaders

Jesus said, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46, NIV)

Many people may think of the likes of the Catholic Church with all of its rules and traditions. Others may think of cults with their crazy rules and restrictions.

In some cases this may be true. However, any leader from the Pope all the way down to mom and dad at home can place restrictions on people that may be unfair or difficult, things which they may be exempt from obeying.

The other danger comes from giving too much freedom.

It is as though we all take Paul’s words to heart: “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20-21)

All we get from this much freedom, without any restriction, gives us the old burden of our sin. We still have no freedom.

Our Lord

The only true freedom we get comes from Jesus Christ, our good and perfect Judge.

And how did we treat Him:

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

The Prince of Peace and the highest official in the universe, the only One righteous, was flogged, beaten, struck by us.

It may not have been right, but God used it for our sake and His glory. He used our hatred and violence to show His love, forgiveness, and grace to us.

Righteous Father, thank You for redeeming our hatred and violence with Your sacrifice. Teach us to be just and merciful. Help us to love each other, even when we are unjust, by Your power.


Can You Hear Me Now?

Proverbs 15:29

The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

220px-George_MullerHis name is one that many people may not know. It sounds like any other name and if it was said aloud, most would scratch their heads and wander who is this gentleman. His name was plain, but to a group of children that depended on him every day for their well-being, he was a saint. His name was George Muller.

George Muller was a christian evangelist and director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England. It is said that during his time as director, that more than 10,000 children were cared for and loved.

More importantly, George Muller was a man that loved the Lord. No, I am not saying that George Muller was a religious man, I am saying that he had a personal relationship with God.

Our verse today talks about the “prayer of the righteous”. I can assure you that the Lord heard the prayers of George Muller. Am I saying that George Muller was perfect? Far from it, but I know by his fruits that he loved the Lord with all his heart and it showed.

James 5:16b says these very powerful words, “…the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Mr. Muller never once asked for donations from the public to help support the orphanage. He always prayed and depended on God to supply the need. On one occasion, when there was no food in the orphanage at all, Muller had the children come to the tables for breakfast and sit down and pray. At the end of the prayer, a baker and a milkman showed up at the front door with both bread and milk to meet the need.

The Lord heard the prayers of George Muller and He can also hear the prayers that comes from you and me, but we must have the correct connection.

Several years back, Verizon Wireless had a commercial that showed a guy walking around everywhere asking the question, “Can you hear me  now?” The point of the commercial was to show the consumer that Verizon’s coverage was strong and that the connection between two phones was always going to be there and that both parties would be heard.

God has laid out for us some requirements in order for Him to hear our prayers – WE MUST BE RIGHTEOUS! Does this mean that we have to be perfect, no, but we must strive to fear Him and be faithful to Him in everything we do.

Do you want God to hear your prayers? Then strive to be a righteous person – not religious, but righteous!

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm  145:18,19).


Studying or Spewing?

Proverbs 15:28

The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.

Spewing Answers

I am pretty sure you know someone who is a “know-it-all”. These are the people who always have an answer for everything, whether what they know is accurate or even true.

One of the big dangers with the “know-it-all” type is that their answers can lead to big problems.

Take it from one of those know-it-all’s.

I used to respond to someone in any situation, and very rarely with “I don’t know.” Much of the time, I was answering people (whether or not they asked me) about other people and what they were or were not doing.

Many times, I would even answer people’s questions with information I had heard in passing, but I would pass off as hard facts the parts I had to fill in.

Do you know how many fights, strained or even ruined relationships, or feelings hatred/bigotry/fear I initiated due to my spewing mouth? (Neither do I)

Studied answers

Perhaps you know that person who rarely speaks, but when they do they sum up or finish a conversation with their amazing words of insight.

I wish I could say I am one of those, but I still have a long way to go. In any event, this is what this type of person is like:

This person listens more than the speak.
This person pays attention to the details, not just what people say.
This person thinks through what they will say, weighing all of the facts.

In other words, this type of person studies each word and action of others and themselves before speaking.

Christians

As Christians, we must study everything we say, each interaction we have with others.

Not only that, we must study God’s Word so that we are “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

Giving an answer that we think is true or that sounds right can be very dangerous. This is where heresy and blasphemies begin and spread. This is where non-Christians find reasons to avoid the Church and Jesus.

Lord Jesus, move in our hearts through Your Holy Spirit to seek and speak truth. Guide us in all truth that we might bring peace and healing rather than evil to this world.


Making Your Disadvantages

Proverbs 15:19

The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.”

Schooled

In early high school, I stopped caring. I saw little to no reason to try hard at school. Sometimes I was interested enough to put some effort forth, but mostly I just tried to skate by. By the time I was a Junior, my grades were … less than stellar.

When I went to college the first time, I did well, but I learned just days before the second semester started that two of my loans were denied. Instead of asking around, I listened to the first person I heard from who said it meant I could not go back. So I stayed home. I eventually got another two semesters at a community college, but I could not even finish an associates degree.

In both cases, I got lazy and prideful, assuming I knew better and could handle anything.

Following God

In the middle of my Junior year of high school, Jesus got a hold of me. I went to a youth event that stressed Colossians 3:23: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men“. I knew I had work hard at school. I managed to get my average up to a solid B!

With college, I was trying to do things for God, but I was not trusting in His guidance. I got good grades, sure, but I was doing everything under my own power. That is why I completed three semesters in four and a half years. At the time I write this, I am seven weeks from graduating from a good university, and I have been through more things during the past few years that have given me invaluable experience. And I have a vision for the future that has been made plain to me.

On our own, things will always get in our way, cause us pain, and lead to trouble. In Christ, all things are possible!

Powerful God, thank You for Your love and patience, and thank You for Your favor and help! Push us through the power of Your Holy Spirit to strive for what You have for us. Do not let us be lazy or prideful, but show us the path You have for us.


True Treasure

Proverbs 15:6

In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.”

Where is my money?

I can hear many people asking after reading this verse, “If the house of the righteous is full of treasure, and I am a devout Christian, where is all of my money? It sure seems wicked people have all the money!”

If this is you, you are not the first to complain about evil people seeming so well-off. We read in Psalm 73:3, “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Many godly people have wondered at this.

Claim It in Faith

There is another s0-called gospel message out there, often called the “prosperity gospel” or “Name-It-and-Claim-It,” teaches just that: if you name your desire in faith that God will deliver, you will receive that very thing.

Under this message, with enough faith you can be happy, healthy, and wealthy. Proponents of this message firmly believe in the combined promise of Proverbs 13:22b, “the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just“, and John 16:23, “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

Trust me that these verses are taken entirely out of context.

True Treasure

Here is the real context: while some righteous people will be wealthy and/or healthy, most will only earn their treasure as good standing with God in Heaven by obeying His commands and living in His love.

Read Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-24:

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

The wicked lose out on the favor of God. Our true treasure is Jesus Christ.

Lord, grow Your love in our hearts that we may serve You and love You. Grant us Your grace and patience, that instead of pursuing money and things we would seek Your favor. You are the true treasure.


Enjoying Sin

Proverbs 14:9

“Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.”

Television

Watch almost any program on television today, and it is easy to see a stark difference from the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Programs from the ’50’s and ’60’s promoted good morals, honesty, and integrity. There was rarely a dirty word uttered, married couples had separate beds (let alone hearing about people who were not married having sex), bad guys usually had some sense of decency, and a “wild-child” was considered a black sheep. Liars were corrected. Selfish people were left to their own devices. Yet, forgiveness was promoted and self-control taught.

Look at today:

  • It is getting increasingly harder to find shows without foul language, and that language is getting worse and more prevalent all the time.
  • Marriage is often portrayed as old-fashioned or as more of a chore than a blessing. Divorce is celebrated. Sleeping around is celebrated. Independence is often valued more highly than cooperation and commitment to a significant other.
  • Bad guys are not only more ruthless and vile, but many times they are also celebrated as an anti-hero.
  • Partying, promiscuity, binge-drinking, drug use, immaturity, rudeness, and all manner of nastiness to ourselves and others is promoted as a fun and viable alternative to boredom and the status quo.
  • Holding grudges and doing what you want is taught as healthy, with just a pinch of forgiveness when it suits us.

Two Paths

The Bible warned us two thousand years ago in 2 Timothy 3 that this is exactly what would happen. Society on the global scale would by and large leave God behind, all of His precepts and promises, and do and promote everything they wanted.

You must ask yourself which path you will follow: The path the world is taking that walks away from God and promotes the self, or the path few choose which is walking with God? (See Matthew 7:13-23)

The path the world takes leads straight to destruction (v. 13), and it is led by many who profess to be Christian or simply “good people” but will also be destroyed (vv. 15-23).

Only those who follow Truth, who choose the narrow path, enter eternal life (v. 14). Only those will find favor with God.

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Gracious God, thank You for loving us so much that You came to die on the cross to forgive us of our love of sin over You. Help us to choose You over our sinful selfishness. Help us enjoy You, and to love those who choose sin.


Two Pursuers

Proverbs 13:21

21 Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.

Yesterday, Jason discussed how bad company will make us bad ourselves.

To go a step further, when we live a life of sin, whatever that may look like, we tend to gather like-minded people around us, reinforcing our sinful behaviors. Eventually, we have to deal with our sin.

If all we have around us is our sin and those who promote it, what should we expect? That everything will be alright? That we will never have problems?

This verse tells us that, in fact, the consequences of our sin track us down. The Apostle Peter told us in 1 Peter 5:8 that the Devil is actually seeking us out to destroy us!

Whatever vice or sin we have in our life is a beacon for Satan, calling him after us to pursue us and drag us deeper to our death. Things will only get worse the longer we live in our sin. Eventually, it leads to not only a literal death but eternal destruction.

The Other Pursuer

Those who live a life of righteousness, a life given to God, can expect a different outcome.

While a righteous person may interact with the more sinful, they are not tainted by that sin. Instead, they more closely associate with those who promote righteousness, or at the very least keep God central in their lives.

An interesting thing happens when we pursue God:

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
James 4:7-8

Do you see it?

Not only does God actively pursue those who pursue Him, but the Devil will actually run away!

We must remember, however, that he only runs away because he has been close. The more we walk with God, the more the Devil will want to break us apart.

The great news is that as we pursue God, we have God defending us.

Ultimately, we are repaid with eternal life.

Precious Savior, thank You for rescuing us from our sin and the grip of the Devil. Help us see You pursuing us. Give us the faith to pursue You. Give us the strength to resist the Devil when he comes after us, for by Your power he will flee!


I Was Despicable

Proverbs 13:5

“A righteous [man] hateth lying: but a wicked [man] is loathsome, and cometh to shame.”

Loathsome Lies and Shame

I have shared before that as a child and teenager I had a habit of stretching the truth, spreading rumors, and flat-out lying. I was rather despicable.

In truth, I told these stories and fabrications to satisfy my own needs.

My need to feel important. (People actually listened to me!)

My need to feel accepted. (People listening felt like people liking me!)

My need to control my life. (That big lie we all believe at some point in our lives.)

Many times, I got caught in my deception. I felt shame and guilt. It led to hating people more and more.

Hating … in a good way

I also have shared before that  because of my deceitful tongue, I learned the importance of being open with people.

I started out hating people, because I felt that no one understood me and no one wanted to be with me.

I learned to hate those things that pushed people farther away. I learned how much God hates sin, and I wanted to hate what He hates.

Several chapters ago, we discussed some things God hates: specifically “lying lips”.

We should hate lies. We should love honesty and openness. Otherwise, we will find ourselves coming to shame and being hated.

Good Father, thank You for Your truth and confronting us in our lies. Thank You for Your forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Forgive those who continue in lies. Help us learn to hate anything that goes against Your truth.


Choose Your Guarantee

Proverbs 12:21

“There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.”

Good and Bad Life

There are certain things that no one can get away from in this life. There are good things and bad things that will have an effect on every person. Jesus told us so, when speaking about God: “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

In terms of today’s passage, this deals more with how we conduct our lives.

When we do good things in the pursuit of God, we may very well see good things in our lives. Wise choices generally make life easier and better.

Simply pursuing what we want or what makes us feel good or willfully causing pain or grief to others will eventually lead to bad things in life. We can not spend beyond our means for too long before we have to deal with the consequences of over-spending. We can not push the world away and expect the world to continue to help and give anything good.

It especially applies with our relationship to God

When we are following our Lord, when we believe in the truth of who Jesus Christ is and live out our faith, we have a guarantee, a strong hope, that we will one day be with Him forever.

The wicked have no such guarantee. Choosing your own path and not believing in Jesus Christ, choosing to promote your own well-being and happiness without considering others, disregarding the teachings of the Bible, all of these all but guarantee suffering when this life is over.

Which path do you choose this moment?

Loving God, thank You for Your grace. Thank You for giving us a way out of our mischief and troubles. Strengthen us to choose You every moment of every day that we may show love and grace to others when they choose the path of wickedness.


Play It Smart, Not Safe

Proverbs 12:13

“The wicked is snared by the transgression of [his] lips: but the just shall come out of trouble.”

By What We Say

There is a funny thing about evidence. It points to the truth.

Guilty

Watching some of the detective shows on television can be a trip, because there is always somebody accused of doing something. Sometimes the person being accused is innocent while the accuser is the guilty one. Sometimes the accused really is guilty.

Most of the time each party, guilty and innocent, is revealed by the simplest of things: what they have said.

Whether they are the accused, accuser, or someone on the sidelines of the investigation, the guilty party often gets caught, because they say the one thing that reveals their guilt.

Free

There are a few reasons why the Christian is called to honesty:

  • God is Truth (John 15:26). If we are in God, then God is in us. Lies should be the last thing on our minds.
  • We are commanded to truth (Ephesians 4:25).
  • We are blameless in the truth.

Here is what the last one really means:

If we do what we say, avoid wrong-doing, and speak honestly in all things, there is no evidence against us.

When all of the evidence supports us, we get out of trouble.

(To be fair, however, we also know that we will receive much trouble because of the truth and righteousness of Christ, as told by Jesus in Matthew 24:9)

It is always better to “play it safe” and be honest, but there is also ample evidence throughout the Bible that we are called to the higher standard.

Ultimately, it is repenting of our lying hearts and turning to the truth of who Jesus Christ is that saves us from Ultimate Trouble. That is not just playing it safe. That is smart.

Righteous Judge, give us honest hearts and lips. Lead us in all truth. Help us forgive and love those who are still caught in the lie of sin, especially when we are caught in the middle of their lies. Help us to be honest with ourselves and own up to our own lies.