​Stay Clear of Evil – Proverbs 4:15

“Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”  Proverbs 4:15 

Proverbs four has three sections that utter the heart cry of a loving father for his son.  Listen to the cry of the father as he begins each section with a command to pay attention and receive his instruction, understanding, sayings, or words. In the first section (4:1-9), Solomon tells his son to get wisdom, get understanding, and heed his words; in the second section (4:10-19) Solomon urges his son to hold onto what he has been taught and to stay clear of the evil way; and then in the last section (4:20-27) Solomon admonishes his son to a lifestyle of keeping his heart attitude right.  These verses picture the heart cry of our heavenly Father for those who are His children through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

The verse we are focusing on today falls under the second section, Solomon urging his son to hold onto what he has been taught and to stay clear of the evil way (4:10-19).  Solomon wanted his son to not just follow his instruction, but to make it his own.  No longer would life be driven by “I have to, because dad said so”, but his heart would be knit with this father’s heart.  The son would choose to do right, not because he had to, but because he had chosen to obey his heavenly Father.  The Bible is our heavenly Father’s instruction to us.  Hopefully, as you and I read our Bibles, we make our heavenly Father’s convictions our own.  

Solomon speaks from the heart as he warns his son against the path of the wicked and the way of evil men.  In the previous verse, Solomon commanded his son not to enter into the path of the wicked or go in the way of evil men.  “Path” and “way” are the activities and lifestyle of the wicked.  Solomon urges his son, to avoid and not even approach these sinful lifestyles, to turn from any inclination to go that way, and pass away from any opportunity that comes to partake of that sinful lifestyle. 

Again our verse is Proverbs 4:15, “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”  There are four commands in this verse each dealing with a different dimension of how we may be brought face-to-face with evil.

Avoid it– Be watchful against the path of evil.  If we are not, then we will enter into temptation.  That is why Jesus said, “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation” in Matthew 26:41.  Keep a vigilant guard against sin.  To avoid we must watch against it and pray.  Pray or be prey.  An application can be made here to the internet. The internet is dangerous. Websites you think would be clean have provocative advertisements.  Filtering services, ad blockers, and accountability software are all great ways to help avoid evil.  It is also super important to have accountability partners.  The latter half of 2 Timothy 2:22 says we are to follow righteousness, faith, charity, and peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  If you are a man, find another like-minded man to keep your accountable.  If you are a woman, find another like-minded woman to keep you accountable.

Pass not by it – Do not consider evil.  Do not entertain curiosities about evil in thought or action.   Do not be like the young, simple man who was void of understanding that went on a stroll near the adulterous woman’s house and then lost his purity (Prov. 7).  In our culture today, the internet is easily the adulterous’ house.  It is very dangerous.  

Turn from it – If you find the opportunity right in front of you to do wrong, stand alone, turn from the wrong immediately.  Be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who courageously stood alone against the king’s command to worship the golden image.  They stood out like sore thumbs among the thousands who were bowed down to worship the golden image Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, had set up.  They knew the penalty for disobedience was death, but they stood and turned from the evil before them, and God miraculously delivered them (Daniel 3).  

Pass away – flee from evil.  Be like Joseph, when Potiphar’s wife caught him by the coat and requested sexual favors of him.  He turned and ran out of the house leaving his coat in her hand.  No doubt, Potiphar who was a high ranking Egyptian official as captain of Pharaoh’s guard had a beautiful wife.  Joseph refused to commit this sin against God, against his master Potiphar, against Potiphar’s wife, and against his own body (Genesis 39:1-12, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).  Certain sins we must stand and oppose, but youthful lusts we must flee immediately (2 Timothy 2:22)

May we be firm in our purpose as the Hebrew young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were to stand up for righteousness.  Their passion for righteousness is clearly illustrated in Daniel 3:16-18 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”  Is this our attitude towards sin?  Have we made that choice that we will not serve sin, or do we like our sin?  Have we ridden our lives of any provision for our flesh that would be a source of failure? 

Romans 13:14 says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”  We all have weak areas, but it makes no excuse for sin.  We must be bold and courageous, because we are victorious through Christ that loved us (Romans 8:37).  God knows with what areas of sin we struggle, and He is standing there waiting for us to humbly come to Him for the grace to help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).  Though sometimes doing right seems impossible, God has given us the victory through Christ Jesus.  We are complete in Him (Romans 8:37, Colossians 2:10). 

How are you guarding yourself against the evil and anti-Christ philosophies that are so pervasive around us?  Take to heart the truth of Psalm 84:11 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”  Remember, “Without Him I can do nothing, with Him I can do all things” (John 15:5, Phil. 4:13).  Though doing right may cost you much as a Christian, avoid evil, do not pass by it, turn from it, and pass away.  It is always worth it.  Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be without dissimulation (hypocrisy). Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”  It’s a choice.  What choice have you made?  More often than not, we cleave to our sin, and don’t want to give it up. We can’t imagine life without getting our own selfish way.  Thus we abhor the good way, rather than the evil way.  This ought not to be.  Choose to love Christ purely by abhorring the evil way and holding tightly to good. Hear the heart cry of the Father, “Stay clear of evil.”

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The Benefits of Having no Respect of Persons – Proverbs 24:26

Proverbs 24:26 “Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.”

Kiss (H5401) – touch lightly, figuratively or literally.  This Hebrew word for kiss rarely is used in a romantic sense.  It often expresses the dearness of relationships between family and friends, especially at farewell.  It shows a mutual acceptance of moral qualities (Psalm 85:10) – AMG’s Complete Word Study Dictionaries

The kiss in the Middle East was a symbolical act representing affection and esteem.

Thus in this passage, people figuratively kiss by accepting, esteeming, and regarding the one who gives a right answer.

Right (H5228) – plain, upright, correct, straight, integrity

Answer (H1697) – this word is used over 1,400 times and translated by 85 different English words in the KJV.  In Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:13, 10:4, the word “commandments” in referencing the Ten Commandments is translated from this same Hebrew word.  God’s commandments are His very words to us.  This Hebrew word is also used in the familiar phrase, “the word of the Lord” used by prophets when they shared their message from God.  This word essentially means, “Word, matter, or thing” – Lexical Aids to the Old Testament.

The context of this verse is part of a group of four topics of things that belong to the wise according to H. A. Ironside’s Commentary on these verses (Prov. 24:23-34).  The four topics are

  1. Having no respect of persons in judgement (Prov. 24:23-26)
  2. Counting the cost (Prov. 24:27)
  3. Prejudiced witness (Prov. 24:28-29), and
  4. Slothfulness (Prov. 24:30-34).

Our verse today, “Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer” is the last of four verses dealing with the first thing belonging to the wise, having no respect of person’s in judgement.

This social approbation (approval, satisfaction, fitness for public trust)/kissing because of a right answer is one of three blessings of not having respect of persons.  The other two are found in the preceding verse (Prov. 24:25).  The three blessings for not having respect of persons are the following:

  1. Delight (in rebuking the wrong)
  2. A good blessing (God’s favor).
  3. Social approbation  (approval, satisfaction, fitness for public trust)

While most of us, probably will not ever find ourselves in a court of law with an opportunity to have respect of persons (favoritism to another because of wealth, fame, and/or other desirable characteristic), we certainly will in a wide range of life’s circumstances.  These verses can be applied to situations where there is the temptation to have respect of persons.  Respect of persons is wrong because of two reasons.

  1. God does not show respect to persons (Rom. 2:11, 1 Pet. 1:17) and
  2. It creates an unjust double standard (James 2:1-4)

God shows no favoritism; therefore nothing can buy His favor, that is, to cause judgment to be twisted.  Nothing should buy our favor either.  When things buy our favor there will be twisted judgment.

Have you ever been in a large group where you want to speak up, but do not exactly know how to say what you want to say in response to a topic that seems to demand a response?  Then someone else says exactly what you wanted to say and how you wanted to say it.  The acceptance and appreciation that you feel for that right answer is an application of the “no respect of persons” principle this verse is talking about.  Also this verse applies to an individual that can take a controversial subject, simplify it, make the subject understandable in an understanding way, and give clear and right insight on the issue.   People will sincerely appreciate this individual’s right answer that goes against the political correctness of today’s thinking.  The political correctness of today seeks to legalize evil and call those who stand against evil bigots.

For example, Immorality is a self-destructive sin, and legalizing it in no way diminishes its consequences.  Calling evil good does not make it good, just as much as calling dog poop brownies does not make dog poop brownies.  Our generation needs people that are willing to stand alone from the crowd and share the truth in love (Exodus 23:2, Eph. 4:15).  To stand by and say nothing against the evil is to ok it.

Isaiah 5:20-21 says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”  By God’s grace, let’s purpose to stand for what is right in God’s eyes according to His Word, the Bible.  Let’s be ready to give an answer to anyone that asks a reason of the hope that is in us, not with a prideful attitude, but with meekness (humility) and fear (respect, reverence) (1 Peter 3:15).  While the situations we may find ourselves in may be very difficult, when the opportunity arises, give that right answer.  It will be appreciated.

God’s Creative Genius – Proverbs 3:19

Proverbs 3:19 “The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.”

Let’s take a look at a few Hebrew word meanings to gain a better appreciation of this verse.

LORD (H3068) – The self-Existent one, Eternal, Jehovah.  “I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14)

Wisdom (H2451) – wit, wisely, skillful

Founded (H3245) -lay, ordain

Earth (H2504) – world, planet earth

Understanding (H8394) – discretion, reason, skillfulness, wisdom, thus mental prowess.

Established (H3559) – Erect, direct, fashion, prepared, make provision.

Heavens (H8064) – the sky, where the clouds revolve, and the higher heavens where the celestial bodies revolve, space.

A good paraphrase of the passage then is this,”The Self-Existent One by his skillfulness has settled the earth, and by His infinite mental prowess has erected the sky and space.”

To understand this with our frail human minds is beyond our comprehension.  God made all this by the word of His power.  Amazing!  He spoke and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast.   “Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.  For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:8-9).

God directs the planets, stars, and galaxies in their courses through the space He created.  God is the one who has fashioned the heavens.  A big bang could never create order.  I have yet to see a massive explosion create new complex life, as claimed by evolutionists who are willfully ignorant of God, their Creator.  God calls those who deny Him being the Creator and instead put the creation of the universe into the hands of random chance and millions of years, scoffers who walk after their own lusts (2 Peter 3:3-7).  Lusts are desires for that which is forbidden by God’s law.  God’s law is written on the heart of every human.  The evidence of the presence of God’s law is our conscience (Romans 2:14-15).  However, our conscience can be seared and twisted if ignored and violated (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

God created the universe in six literal days by the power of His Word, and He keeps it all going by the laws of nature He established (Exodus 20:11, 2 Peter 3:5, Colossians 3:16-17).  While no sane person would ever credit the creation of the a finely tuned sports car to an explosion in a factory and chance, yet these same sane people will credit the formation of life and the universe which is infinitely more complex to an explosion, which is totally insane.  They will give a credit to the designer and engineer of a car, but will not give credit to their Creator.  What an insult and lie of Satan the fable/theory of Evolution is.  There is not a thread of evidence supporting it.    There is no logic to their reason, all it is, is an attempt to get rid of God to whom they will give an account for their actions in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36)  In fact, here is  a couple of quotes from evolutionists debunking their own theory:

“One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom, a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not been written.” (Dr. Hubert P. Yockey)  From <http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1435562/posts>

“Evolution [is] a theory universally accepted not because it can be proven by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.” Professor D.M.S. Watson, leading biologist and science writer of his day.)  From <http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1435562/posts>

One day, however, these guys too will bow the knee to Christ and confess with their tongue that their Creator Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11)

Praise God for His infinite and marvelous wisdom. Consider the size of space and wonder at our great God from the following examples from Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible:

  1. Paper stack model

Let us say the thickness of a sheet of paper represents the distance from the earth to the sun which is approximately 93 million miles.

To represent the distance to the earth’s next nearest star, Alpha Centauri, we would need a 71 foot high stack of paper.

To cover the diameter of our Milky Way galaxy would require a 310 mile high stack.

To reach the edge of the known universe would demand a pile of paper sheets 31 million miles high.

2.  Orange and grain of sand model

In this illustration the sun will be represented by an orange and the earth by a grain of sand.

The grain of sand is the earth circling the orange representing the sun at a distance of 30 feet.  Thus this thirty feet represents a distance of 93 million miles!

Pluto one of the remotest objects in our solar system (Pluto is not officially a planet anymore) would be another grain of sand, circling the orange at ten city blocks away.

The nearest star, Alpha Centauri, would be 1,300 miles away from the orange (sun), in this model!

As Christians, we serve an awesome God! He wants to share with us the genius of His wisdom through His Word and a personal relationship with Him. In Proverbs 3:21, God said through Solomon, “My son, let them not depart from thine eyes, keep sound wisdom and discretion.” Why would God say that? Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding.” (Proverbs 3:13) God wants the best for us and wants us satisfied. Wow! Let’s not be so slow of heart to believe it, but let’s wholeheartedly embrace this truth! Delight in the Lord and in His wisdom. If you lack wisdom, ask for it (James 1:5-6). We all need it, and we find it in our genius Creator (Romans 11:33).  Now who wouldn’t want the help of a genius?  May we all find our help in the Lord (Psalm 121:2).

How is Your Walk? – Proverbs 28:18

“Proverbs 28:18 “Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.”

How is your walk?  Do you walk upright or is there something down right wrong about your walk?

To walk uprightly means to live blamelessly, to live in truth, to live righteously, and to exude virtue not only in our relationship with God, but also in our relationships with others.  This is not uprightness that brings spiritual salvation, but saves one now from the consequences of sinful choices.

According to AMG’s Complete Word Study Dictionary the Hebrew word for “upright” is used more than 50% of the time in context of describing the animal without blemish God’s people were to offer Him (Exodus 29:1; Leviticus 4:3, 14:10).  These facts should cause us to ask ourselves, “Would my heart, spiritually speaking, be a spotless offering to God?  Am I withholding any of my life or desires back from Him?  Am I whole-heartedly presenting my body as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1-2)?  The upright’s walk is a lifestyle of living blamelessly before God.  It is having the attitude of King David in Psalm 139:23-24.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Having this attitude means keeping a short list of sins (1 John 1:9, Mat. 5:23-24).  This requires being sensitive to God’s leading and confessing our sins quickly to the Lord and others.

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:”  An easy working definition of “iniquity” is “iniquity is having my own way.”  Do I want my own way or God’s way?  If I choose my own way, I will fall.  If I choose God’s way, I will be saved, and God will hear my prayers (1 Peter 3:12).  I will be delivered, safe, and have the victory.  There is no safer place than being in the center of God’s will.  Yes, it will be hard (2 Tim. 3:12), and though God’s will may require suffering for doing what is right, our hearts and minds will be free in Christ (1 Peter 3:17, Acts 5:40-42).

The second half of this Proverb is a complete contrast.  H. A. Ironside in his commentary on this verse says that, Daniel and Jonah are perfect illustrations of the couplet of this verse.  Daniel was obedient to the Lord and was delivered from the lions.  Daniel was a top official in two world empires.  You would have thought the conquering armies of the Medes and Persians would have killed him, a high ranking Babylonian official.  His testimony of uprightness and wisdom was so strong that he was also a high ranking Persian governor during  the Persian Empire.

Then we have Jonah, a prophet given the command to preach God’s coming judgment to the Ninevites.  Our modern equivalent of the Ninevites  would be ISIS.  Instead of obeying, Jonah attempted to flee from God and God’s will for him.  Jonah fell quickly.  A fierce storm rose on the Mediterranean in route to Joppa as a direct result of Jonah’s disobedience.   Jonah told the crew his disobedience was the reason for the storm.  In order to save the ship and its crew, Jonah advised the crew to throw him overboard, so the storm would cease.  However, God wasn’t done with Jonah.  After being thrown overboard, Jonah was swallowed by a fish, spent three nights in the fish, somewhat repented during his stay, and was vomited by the fish onto dry land.  Jonah finally obeyed God and preached of God’s coming judgement on the Ninevites.  Much to his dismay the city repented and God had mercy on them.  Once again Jonah demonstrated he did not have the attitude that God wanted him to have.  Jonah would have rather drowned than see the Ninevites saved.  His attitude was crooked and perverse.

 

Every moment we have the choice to walk uprightly, or to have a perverse heart.  Know for certain, you will not get away with a perverse or crooked heart.  Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16:18).  You do not know better than God.  The ultimate fruit of your actions will prove just that.  Character is destiny.  Will you fall or be saved?  It’s your choice.  How is your walk with God and others?

Don’t Let the Wilderness Be Better Than You – Proverbs 21:19

Proverbs 21:19 “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

If you have ever been in a house with an angry woman, which I am sure we all have been at one point or another, it is not fun.  I’m not sure why Solomon singles out women the way he does.  It’s not pleasant being around anyone that is angry.  Maybe it is because women have a greater tendency to be more gifted with talking.  A woman’s very nature is to be nurturing.  When she moves outside of God’s design, and fails to nurture, she tears down her house.  This woman is foolish to be contentious and angry; reason seems to go out the window when we are filled with wrath or unrighteous anger.

Proverbs 14:1 says, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”  Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and this woman’s tongue brings death to relationships (Prov. 25:12).

The Hebrew word for “contentious” (H4079) is a plural form for the Hebrew word meaning dissension, strife, arguing.”   It means to brawl, to dispute.  This woman is in a constant state of fighting.

The Hebrew word for “angry” (H3708) means anger, grief, indignation, spite, or wrath.

The woman in this proverb is a fighter.  She has expectations that she demands be met which often are unrealistic.  If her expectations are not met, she impatiently and angrily lets others know.  She will do whatever it takes to get her way.  This woman is fueled by the bitterness inside her.  It spews out of her.  A root of bitterness springs up and defiles any it touches.  Bitterness is the poison ivy of relationships.  Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”  This contentious and angry woman is the epitome of Hebrews 12:15.  She has embraced the bitterness, and has given the devil a major foothold in her life.

Proverbs 21:19 is the second time Solomon says this sentiment in Proverbs 21, and he says it a third time in Proverbs 25:24.  Proverbs 21:9 and 25:24 are identical.  “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”

In context of the culture, storms arose quickly and were often violent in the East.  Solomon is saying that it was better to be exposed to the elements and violent weather conditions than the elements of a contentious and angry woman.  At least in the wilderness or corner of a house top you have periods of repose with the weather, though it may not be very comfortable physically.

Matthew Henry says this in his commentary on this verse “Those cannot dwell in peace and happiness that cannot dwell in peace and love.”  That is quite a profound statement.   If you cannot have a heart of love and peace towards others, forget about having peace and happiness because it isn’t going to be.

Let’s ask ourselves a few questions.  What is my heart attitude like?  Do I have an attitude of irritability, discontentment, and anger like the contentious and angry woman?  Are people on pins and needles when they are around me?  Would it be better for the people around me to be in the wilderness facing the elements rather than facing my rotten attitude?  Am I better than the wilderness?  By God’s grace let’s not be like this contentious and angry woman.  Let us have the love of God and His peace evident in our lives.  That does not mean we compromise for standing for Truth, but it means we stand for Truth in love.  May our expectation come from the Lord, not our own desires (Psalm 62:5).  Let’s yield our expectations to Him, so we do not have a reason to get angry readily.

Are You the Ransom – Proverbs 21:18

Proverbs 21:18 “The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.”

When I think of the meaning of this verse, an historical account comes to mind from 2 Samuel 20:14-22.  In this passage Sheba rebelled against the rule of King David.  This took place right after Absalom’s rebellion against his father King David which had resulted in his death. Both of these men that rebelled ended up being a ransom for righteous King David, the man after God’s own heart.  In the case of Sheba, Sheba was also the ransom for the walled city of Abel into which he had fled from David’s army.  A wise woman on the city wall negotiated for the city to be spared with Joab, the captain of King David’s army.  Once this wise woman found out that all the attacking army wanted was the life of the rebel they were harboring in their city, she talked with the men of the city.  The city executed Sheba and dropped his head over the wall to Joab.  The city of Abel was spared.  The wicked was a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.

This verse also cross references with Proverbs 11:8 which says, “The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.”  In Isaiah 43:3-4, the prophet Isaiah reminds God’s people how he had given Egypt for their ransom.  God’s people were being oppressed by the Egyptians, and God delivered them out of trouble and Egypt ended up being the nation in big trouble with the ten plagues and the annihilation of their army at the Red Sea (Exodus 7-14).

At the end of the seven years of tribulation, God will again rescue Israel and wipe out the armies of the anti-Christ who seek to destroy Israel and God (Rev. 19).  This proverb of the wicked being a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright is a truth woven throughout history.

The most blessed and glorious reversal of this is when Jesus Christ the righteous chose to be the ransom for the unrighteous (1 John 2:1).  He willingly was numbered with the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12, Mark 15:28).  He, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, all humanity, when he died for the sins of this wicked world (2 Cor. 5:21, Romans 5:8, 1 John 2:2).  Praise God, Jesus did not stay dead but rose bodily from the grave three days later.  Jesus was and is victorious over sin and death, and is seated on the right hand of His Father in heaven (1 Cor. 15:3-4, Heb.10:9-11).  Christ freely offers the gift of eternal life he purchased with His own blood to whosoever will accept it by faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9, Romans 6:23).  Christ chose to be the ransom for all.  Because He was the ransom, salvation is afforded to all those who believe in Him.  Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much.  It is as simple as ABC.  “A” we must admit that we are a sinner. “B” we must believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead three days later.  “C” we must confess Him as our Lord.

Praise God that though He is a God justice, He is also a God of mercy.  We all deserve to be in hell.  By God’s grace, let’s remember, that anything better than hell is a privilege.  Let’s also have a continual attitude of gratefulness as Christians because yes, we, wicked sinners, should have been the ransom, but Christ was our ransom.  Are you the ransom or is Christ your ransom?

Grief, a Fact of Life – Proverbs 14:13

Proverbs 14:13 “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.”

What happens when you are having bad day? Have your plans been completely turned upside down? Have your expectations not been met? Have you tried and failed to have a Godly attitude? Maybe you have struggled in another area and are grieved because you feel that once again you have let down the Lord because of your repugnant selfishness. Your situation may be completely different. Possibly you have lost a loved one, you are just feeling all alone, or the news and the political scene are grieving you. Maybe someone has deeply hurt you. These situations all can cause sorrow in our hearts. Man’s sin brought sorrow not only to himself, but to his Creator and all God’s creation as well (Genesis 3, 6:5-6, Romans 8:22).

While we can laugh and be sorrowful, while we can force a smile and yet feel down, the laughter and smile is only a cover up for the emotional pain we are feeling. Many times, this guise is a poor one. Even the mirth of this laughter seems to further exacerbate grief once it is over.

The Hebrew word for “heaviness” is used only four times.   Half of those times it is used to describe the grief and depression that a fool causes in the hearts of his parents (Proverbs 10:1, 17:21).

The Hebrew word for the “sorrow” (H3510) that Solomon uses in this proverb means “to be sore, in pain, to grieve.”

King David wrote about this type of sorrow in Psalm 69:25. He said, “But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.” David was going through a time of terrible distress in his life where it felt like he was going to be drowned by the circumstances He was going through (Psalm 69:1-3). He was emotionally and physically exhausted.

We all go through times of testing. These times of testing reveal in whom we put our trust, God, ourselves, someone, or something else. In Psalm 69, David demonstrates what our response should be in times of distress and grief.

 

In faith, David took three actions.

  1. He prayed patiently,
  2. praised the name of God with a song, and
  3. magnified the Lord with thanksgiving (Psalm 69:13, 30).

Notice that David poured out his situation to the Lord in faith and was waiting on God (Psalm 69:1-36). He realized he needed help, and happy is the individual who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God (Psalm 146:5). He then praised God’s name with a song. David’s actions demonstrated that he believed God was his Helper and salvation. His heart was filled with a chorus, not of whining, but of praise. Following David’s praise to God’s name was his magnification of God in thanksgiving to Him. David said that God valued a heart attitude of faith, praise, and thanksgiving more than any sacrifice of an ox or bullock. Though we no longer have Old Testament sacrifices which foreshadowed Christ’s cross work for our sins, these verses shows that God values a right attitude more than any outward shows of obedience (Psalm 69:30-31). If our hearts our right with God, outward actions of obedience will naturally follow.

Right now, whether you are going through a time of testing or life is relatively easy, keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus. He has borne your griefs and your sorrows (Isaiah 53:4) He knows your situation. He sympathizes with you (Psalm 138:8). He calls you to cast your burden on Him for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Follow David’s example in Psalm 69.

  1. Pray and wait patiently for God.  Be honest with the Lord, and tell Him that you will trust Him. Ask Him to help your unbelief (Mark 9:24)
  2. Praise His name with a song.  Psalm 9:10 says, “And they that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee: for Thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee.” Psalm 91:14 says, “Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.” Do you know and praise God’s name? It’s the key to deliverance. Do you sing to Him? Keeping a long face long is impossible when you are seeking His face in song (Psalm 16:11).
  3. Magnify the Lord with thanksgiving.  Thank Him for the good work He is doing in your life (Philippians 1:6). Complaining is impossible when your heart and mouth is filled with thanksgiving.

Proverbs 14:13 states the facts. There may be laughter in sorrow, but heaviness follows. Sorrow is an overwhelming reality, but God is a greater overcoming reality. His reality gives me hope. My hope is in the Lord! Let’s live in that hope.

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13

Sin’s Attraction – Proverbs 7:16

Proverbs 7:16 “I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.”

The Hebrew word for “bed” in Proverbs 7:16 is distinctly different from the Hebrew word translated as “bed” in Proverbs 7:17. In his commentary, Adam Clarke says that the Hebrew Word for “bed” in Proverbs 7:16 refers to a couch that a person would recline on for eating. In Proverbs 7:17, the Hebrew Word for “bed” refers to the bed in the bedchamber. During Old Testament times, people typically ate their meals sitting or squatting on the ground with the table being a mat on which the food was set. This was especially the case with those living in tents. Only royalty or the well-to-do would have furniture to sit on while they ate. Thus, the strange woman was offering this simple man a lavish and luxurious dinner experience. The couch on which she wanted this man to eat with her was well decorated, adorned with beautiful blankets, imported linen from Egypt, and carved works which many commentators actually believe refers to striped Egyptian linen coverlets.

Proverbs 7:16 contains part of the prostitute’s offer to the simple man. She has already presented herself to him as a somewhat spiritual person in her ploy to allure this young man to evil. In Proverbs 7:14-15 she says, “I have peace offerings with me; this day have I paid my vows.  15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.” The peace offering was a voluntary offering made to God of an animal without blemish in thanksgiving and praise to Him. The offering was split between the altar, the worshiper, and the priest. Therefore she may have had several good meats on hand since she offered peace offerings; notice the plural ending.
Whether this prostitute was lying or not, we do not know. The Bible says that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination and even more so when brought with a wicked mind (Prov. 21:27).

The big three of the world are the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17). This man wanted to indulge all three. This sly immoral woman sought to be the solution to his perceived need, but at a price not anyone can afford. Sexual sin destroys a person’s own soul (Prov. 6:32). The prostitute had already successfully appealed to the lusts of his eyes and now the lusts of his flesh through her flattery. The lust of the eyes was indulged by the simple man coming in hopes of possibly catching a glimpse of this woman (7:7-10), and the lust of his flesh by her kiss, offering this simple man an extravagant dinner experience, and a sensually appealing bedroom to do an immoral act (7:13-18). Then lastly she appeals to the pride of life in this young man by persuading him, he can get away with this pleasurable sinful act (7:19-20). However sin always has a price tag attached to it (7:23). This sin in particular has a higher price tag of self-destruction. While all sin is self-destructive, sexual sin is against one’s own body (1 Corinthians 6:18).

From this verse, we learn that sin is attractive. However, we know that under sin’s beautiful tapestries is a deadly trap that will destroy us spiritually and physically. Just as Solomon warned his son about loving/lusting for this strange woman, prostitute, our heavenly Father warns us against the love of this world. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments (1 John 5:3). Just as Solomon counseled his son to keep his commandments as the apple of his eye we ought to keep our Heavenly Father’s commands as the apple of our eye. Love and obedience to God is key to overcoming the attractiveness of sin in our lives. 1 John 2:15-17 says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” Looking over the past week, month, or year, based on these verses, who have I chosen to love, the Father or the world? Let’s be faithful to live holy lives for the Father’s glory (1 Peter 1:13-16, Eph. 1:12). Do not let sin’s attraction side track you! Let us be one track focused on the Lord, His holiness, and His beauty (Mat. 6:33). God bless!

Your Word Power – Proverbs 25:18

Proverbs 25:18 “A man that beareth false witness against his neighbor is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.”

The context, here seems to indicate that this false witness is slandering a person in a court of law which results in their punishment unjustly.  King Solomon saw this happen probably on more than one occasion as King of Israel.  1 Kings 3:16-28 vividly illustrates this proverb with the account of the two harlots and their sons and how Solomon determined the true mother of the living son and the mother of the son that had died.  King Solomon saved the true mother from greater suffering through his wisdom.

A person that tells lies about another is a slanderer.  Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “slander” as:

To defame; to injure by maliciously uttering a false report respecting one; to tarnish or impair the reputation of one by false tales, maliciously told or propagated.

A slanderer is likened to three instruments of destruction in this proverb, a maul, a sword, and a sharp arrow.

The maul refers to a war club.  It was a tool for scattering and breaking down.  This Hebrew word for Maul is only used once in the Bible and comes from another Hebrew word that means “to scatter.”  Therefore, a slanderer is like a heavy club delivering jolting, crushing blows to one’s character and reputation that shatters it in pieces.

Secondly, the slander is likened unto a sword.  A sharp weapon designed to cut, pierce, and kill.

Thirdly, a slander is likened to a sharp arrow.  This speaks of a whetted arrow or an arrow carefully sharpened.  This arrow is designed to pierce through its target with ease.

So in other words, slandering someone is figuratively wounding or killing them; slander delivers irreparable damage.  Slander crushes.  Slander divides with precision.  Slander pierces through a person’s reputation.  The slanderer or false witness is well aware that what he says defames another’s character and causes suffering.

We can learn several things from this verse.

  1. Lying words motivated by hate are words of death.The opposite also holds true.
  2. Words are powerful, words can destroy.  Therefore we need to be careful what we think and say. The little saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a flat out lie.  Since God created the entire universe with just words, words are very powerful.  Words influence and form the opinions of others.  Words are the basic language in which everyone thinks.  Just as blood is the life of the body, so good words are the blood and energy of life.  Inversely, just as poisoned blood can kill the life of the body so can poisoned words kill the life of a person’s soul, that is their mind, will, and emotions (1 Thes. 5:23).
  3. Words of truth spoken in love are words of life which promote life and spiritual growth.  Ephesians 4:15 says, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” The truth spoken in love is what needs to be on our minds, and it is these words that ought to proceed out of our mouths (Eph. 4:29).

While we may never lie about someone in a court of law, are we careful with  our words, whether it be spoken, written, or posted on social media?  Words are an outflow of what’s in our hearts, so let’s keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23).  Let’s never defame another’s character, but let’s always strive to use our words to build another up.  Let’s then ask ourselves, “How is the building process going? Am I at a standstill? Have I forgotten about the power of words?”  Also, let’s be careful that we do not complain, otherwise we are that maul, sword, and sharp arrow to God’s character and His goodness to us.  Let’s instead be in stark contrast to a false witness, and be a true witness of the one true God as David was.  Let’s catch the spark of his love for God in Psalm 71:15, “My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof.”  Let’s be in awe of who He is and the rest will follow as we seek Him first (Mat. 6:33).  Remember your words are powerful, so use them for good for the glory of God (Rev. 4:11)

Establish His Purpose – Proverbs 15:22

Proverbs 15:22 “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.”

When I look at this verse, several questions come to mind. “What is God’s purpose for me? How is His purpose for me being established in my life? What counsel have I sought?” While we all know that our purpose is to bring God glory, that He is worthy to receive glory, honor, and power, and that we were created for His pleasure; how do we daily work out this truth in our lives individually? (Rev. 4:11) Well first off, we need to go to the “Whole Counsel” of the Word of God (Acts 20:27). God has created each one of us with a specialized and customized purpose tailored just for us which fits into the broader purpose of giving Him glory.

While at first thought, it might seem to us that God is selfish because everything was created for His glory. There is nothing farther from the Truth (Rev. 4:11). God is love (1 John 4:8). He has loved us with so great a love it caused Him to give His only Begotten Son to die for our sins while we were His enemies (1 John 4:10, Romans 5:8). In this was manifested His unfathomable love for us, which is a manifestation of His glory. We have the privilege to bring our most worthy Creator glory through living for Him. As we behold His glory as in a glass that is the mirror of His Word we are changed into His image from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

Thus, our purpose is to bring God glory. Some other purposes that are subsets of this broader purpose are clearly spelled out in God’s Word. Some of these purposes or God’s will for us are found in the following nine passages: Rom. 12:2; Eph. 6:5-6; 1 Thes. 4:3, 5:18; 1 Pet. 2:15, 3:17, 4:2, 19; 1 John 2:15-17. Since gaining a framework of God’s will or counsel for us is so important, I have included these verses in today’s ProWisdom Text. As you read through the verses, prayerfully consider how you are fulfilling God’s will or purpose for you. Don’t let His purpose for you be disappointed. Like me, you will find yourself saying, “Ouch,” as you read these verses. When you do say, “Ouch,” ask God to give you wisdom and the grace to take practical steps to obey His will and fulfill His purpose for you.

  1. Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  Application: I ought to start each day by sincerely praying these verses back to God and asking Him to help me obey the truth of these verses.
  1. Ephesians 6:5-6 “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;  Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;”  Application: Is my goal to do everything I can to make my boss successful for God’s glory? Do I work at my job as a God-pleaser or a men-pleaser?
  1. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:”  Application: What is my thought life like? Jesus said that whoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Mat. 5:27-28) How is God leading me to be set apart from worldliness, and thus to be set apart to Him?
  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:18  “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  Application: Do I realize that when I start to complain, I am no longer Spirit filled and am walking in the flesh? When I complain, do I confess my complaining as sin and ask Him to fill me with His Spirit so I can walk in His Spirit.”
  1. 1 Peter 2:15 “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:” Application: Do I have a good testimony and reputation for the Lord?
  1. 1 Peter 3:17 “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.Application: Am I willing to suffer for doing what is right? Jesus was tortured to death because He chose to obey His Father’s will, and willingly laid down his life for us. Am I willing to lay down my life for Him whether in life or death? Will I live for Him with all my heart today? If not, why not? His love for me is glorious.
  1. 1 Peter 4:2 “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” Application: Would others that know me, say that I live to the lusts of my flesh or to the will of God?
  1. 1 Peter 4:19 “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” Application: Those that live Godly in Christ Jesus are promised persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Am I living right, and have I committed my soul to Christ’s keeping?
  1. 1 John 2:15-17 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Application: An inference can be made from this passage that if it is not the will of God to love the world and the things in the world, it is the will of God to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30, Mat 22:37). Who has my love? Are the lusts of my flesh my love, or is Christ my consuming love and passion?

We do not just magically do the will of God, though it is supernatural. It is not happen stance. We must consciously and deliberately choose to yield ourselves to Him allow Him to live His resurrection life through us (Romans 6:11-16). Without Godly counsel, God’s purposes for us are disappointed or made of none effect and the devil’s purposes are advanced. All the devil has to do is get our eyes off God, and he has accomplished his devious purpose. Take hold of the counsel of God’s Word and do not let it go, and God’s perfect will for you will be accomplished in your life. Just trust Him (Prov. 3:5-6). Keep your eyes on Him. He knows what He is doing. He is God only wise (1 Timothy 1:17). You and I certainly are not. Your purpose will become His purpose, and He will establish His purpose in you. His Word, the Word, is our life (John 1:1, Proverbs 4:13). May we surround ourselves with the light of His counsel and those who would wisely follow the light of His counsel (Proverbs 13:20).

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Don’t let God’s purposes for you be thwarted by sin, the devil, or any weight that easily besets you (Hebrews 12:1). Remember, the good is the enemy of the best. Seek God’s counsel, His purpose for you, and His purposes for you will be established. Run with patience. May this be our prayer as it was David’s “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)

Praise God, someday the purpose of being conformed into His image will be a reality in all those who have trusted in Christ as their Savior!

God bless!