Proverbs 5: Prostitutes, fear & grace

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I have never used the services of a prostitute. I have been approached and encouraged to make a purchase. I was only 16 the first time. It scared me to death and embarrassed me to no end! I also had a memorable discussion with a young lady at the Trenton train station.

In both cases I declined their offers not because I was wise in a Proverbs 5 kind of way. I said no because it was “the wrong thing to do” and I was scared! Probably fear was the bigger of the two motivations.

But other men and unfortunately other pastors have said yes. Read well what I am saying, I am not a better man or a more holy pastor than those others. I am a more fearful man. I fear the damage it would do to my heart and walk with the Lord. I fear the hurt and pain it would inflict on my wife. I fear the shame of my sons learning I had done such a thing. I fear the broken trust that would be a result of such an action. Broken trust on the part of my wife, sons, closest friends, our church, with my Father in heaven.

As I read verses 12-14 I can feel the emotion of a man would have to groan the words, “I hated what was right. I did what I wanted. I have ruined everything.”

I don’t want to ever have to say those words. The only thing that will keep me from doing so is the grace and mercy of my Father. Left to myself, I will fail. Lord, sustain me. Protect me and those I love from myself!

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Proverbs 4: What happens when I “keep”

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“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight, keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their whole body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for them it flow the springs of life.” v. 20-23.

I was talking with a friend today about how we make the Word a reality in our life. Is the secret memorizing it, lots of it? Is the secret knowing where you find all the passages on eternal security or some other doctrinal point? Is the secret a systematized structured study with fill-in the blanks and short answer questions? Surely it could be said that if one graduates from bible college or seminary the Word would be a reality in their life!

I don’t think any of these are the answer. The result of all the above is knowledge, head knowledge. Simply knowing about the Bible does not suffice. Instead the key is found in verse 4, “Let your heart hold fast my words; KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS AND LIVE.” I think the key is in “keeping” and obeying God’s Word. That is where the Bible becomes not mere principles written thousands of years ago, but instead, the Bible is proven to be true and we are changed people when we keep the commandments! I become more like Jesus. I reflect Him. I represent Him well to a lost world. My life becomes a testimony to the truth of the Bible.

Proverbs 3: Do this, not that

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Did you see the pattern in verses 5-7 or am I imagining it?

Trust in the Lord, not on yourself. v. 5

Our way is made straight when we acknowledge God. v. 6

Don’t be in awe of yourself, be in awe of God. v. 7

Why are we so prone to think we can do things on our own, can figure it out, know all that we need to know, can fix ourselves? Why do we reject help and wisdom and correction? Why do we think we are self-sufficient? Why do we think we are god?

When I look at the mess of my life and the lives of others around me and compare that to a sunset, the stars or a tornado why don’t I yield my willful spirit to God and allow Him to fix all my messes and lead the way?

Proverbs 2: What we most want will control us

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The Bible is full of “if, then” statements, “If you do this, then this will happen.” Proverbs 2 opens with an “if, then” that is huge for us. How do we tap into the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God? We gotta have it!

My son, If you . . .

    receive my sayings
    treasure my commandments
    make your ear attentive
    incline your heart
    cry out
    lift your voice
    seek her as silver
    search as for hidden treasure

“Then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God.”

I keep thinking about the quote I read in the sermon this past week, “What we most want will control us.”

I am embarrassed at the frivolous things I “want” when compared to the wealth that God has to offer. I am so sorry Lord for my wayward life. As the old hymn says, “Prone to wander” is so true of me. Let Your grace lead me to your riches!

Proverbs 1

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Proverbs 1 can be divided into 3 parts: verses 1-6 cite the benefits of the proverbs; verses 7-19 offers a warning of following after the “enticement of sinners;” verses 20-33 foretells the consequences of not following wisdom.

In verse 23 the reward of listening to reproof is, “I will pour out my spirit on you, I will make my words known to you.” The consequence of not listening to reproof is found in verses 30-32. They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness of the naive shall kill them, and the complacency of fools shall destroy them.”

Those are heavy words!

I want God’s spirit to be poured out on me. I really want God’s word to be made known to me, because I have seen the how the other side lives. I have been there, done that for a season and don’t want to return.

God is basically saying, “If you won’t do it my way I’ll leave you to your way. What ever comes of doing it your way — you get to live with it! Keep doing it! It will destroy you! See how you like that.”

The word that bothers me is “complacency.” That word has such a lazy, really negative ring to it. I don’t want to be satisfied with ‘good’ when God has the ‘best’ to offer. How do I make sure that don’t get complacent?

The “Man Fear” Test

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In our study of the fear of the Lord, we looked first at what fear of man looks like. There are many authors who have done excellent work on this topic. I chose to use Ed Welch’s book, “When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man as one of my resources for our study.”

I mentioned, what I called, The “Man Fear” Test. Dr. Welch highlights 13 items that might indicate someone struggles with fear of other people. I used nine of these in my sermon. Here is the entire list.

I encourage you to purchase the book if you feel that you need to give more attention to people-pleasing tendencies or fear of other people.

A struggle with peer pressure – most often identified as a teen problem, but Welch states that if you struggled with this as a teen you probably struggle with it today.

Over-commitment – Is it hard to say no due to the fear of what others will think of you. Or do you say yes so others will think you are ‘extra committed’ to the church, project or team.

Self-esteem – Do you need others to affirm you so you feel good about yourself.

Do you “need” something from your spouse? – Do you need your spouse to listen to you? Respect you? Unless you understand the biblical parameters of marital commitment, your spouse will become the one you fear. Your spouse will control you.

Do you ever feel as if you might be exposed as an impostor? Many successful people say they feel this way. If they find out the truth they won’t like me or hire me or listen to me or come to church.

Do you second-guess decisions you have made because of what others might think of you? Are you afraid of making mistakes that will make you look bad in other people’s eyes?

Do other people make you angry or depressed? Do they make you crazy? If so, they are have a degree of control over you.

Do you avoid people? In this case you might not need them, but they do control were you go and what you do.

Diets – How many of us are really dieting because of health? The desire for the praise of men is one way we exalt people above God.

Success – Do you compare yourself to others to feel good about yourself? Success is determined by how much more you have than the next person. If this is true, then your life is defined by other people’s success or lack of success more than by God.

Do you feel empty? Is life meaningless? If you need others to fill you, you are controlled by them.

Do you get easily embarrassed? If so, you are allowing the perception of other people to define you. You exalt the opinions of others to the point where you are ruled by them.

Do you ever lie, especially the little white lies? Do you use lies to cover up areas of your life. This is another effort to influence what others think of you, thereby giving them control of your life.

Are you jealous of other people? You are controlled by them and their possessions.

Proverbs 28

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“To have respect of persons and to show partiality is not good, neither is it good that man should transgress for a piece of bread.” (v21, Amplified Bible)

How many different ways do we show favoritism? I would run out of fingers and toes if I tried to count them all! My flesh will always veer toward those I perceive are ‘like’ me or that I want to like me. Christ instructs us to love the unlovely, the poor, the dirty, the overlooked, the hard to love, those who never return love, those who return hate for love, those who can’t love. Those who are black, brown, yellow. Democrats, Republicans, Communists, bigots, racists, gays, abortionists and gluttons are all on Christ’s most likely to love list. My most likely to love list doesn’t have a lot of overlap with Christ’s.

I sure don’t have anyone on my list that has cursed me in public, accused me falsely, spread lies about me, slapped me, beat me, executed me. All those people are on Christ’s most likely to love list. Matter of fact, I am on that list and I am hard to love. I have returned hate for love, I have completely ignored love.

I am the very kind of person God calls me to love.

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