Thoughts on life and Scripture...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Topsy Turvy

"It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury, much less for a slave to rule over princes."
Proverbs 19:10
We have in this proverb two situations that just don't fit with how things should be. The first is a foolish person with great wealth who lives like a king. The second is a slave ruling over princes. Lets look at both these situation to see what is wrong in them.
The rich fool
This foolish person seems to have come upon sudden wealth. He doesn't have the wisdom to gain wealth on his own. So perhaps he won the lottery or received an inheritance. A foolish person can't manage his own bit of money.  So if a fool receives a lot more money, you can bet he will waste it for he has never learned to wisely use his wealth. He will waste it on indulging his sinful pleasure, and in the end he will meet again with poverty. This scenario is played out many times when people win the lottery. Since they are incompetent with money, they will mismanage the money they won and ruin themselves. 
The slave who is king
Generally slaves are not prepared to rule countries. They learn to take orders without hesitation, not give orders. They usually don't have to think through a plan or idea. They don't have to organize to get a project done. They are told what to do and how to do it. For a slave to rise suddenly to the rank of king would be a tragic calamity. The slave has never been trained or prepared to do that sort of work. For him to rule over men who have been trained for that position is wrong. It is likely that the slave will become a horrible despot as he is intoxicated with power. This situation is worse than the last because the rich fool will ruin himself only, but this slave king will ruin a whole country.
It is important that before a person find himself with wealth, power and responsibility that he be trained and prepared for it. For example, we need to teach our children how to wisely manage money when they are young. Having been equipped with that skill, they will do much better when they are older and handling larger sums of money. Too much responsibility early on will crush us. It is good to give more and more responsibility as a person shows himself faithful in his work. A mother of one child can't imagine how a mother of five can handle all her children. But you learn to carry that responsibility a little at a time, unless you have octuplets.
This principle is also how God works as well. He trains us and prepares us so that we will be able to manage greater roles and services for Him. He knows us and what we need to do the tasks he has called us to. This we can see in the selection for elders. Ideally an elder needs to be someone who is more mature in His walk with God. A new convert or immature Christian is unprepared for the challenging work of an elder. 1 Timothy 3:6
We also see God using the principle in this proverb in the 'Parable of the Talents' in Matthew 25:14-30. There we learn that the faithful use of the gifts and responsibilities that God has given to us in this life, will bring us greater responsibilities and rewards in the life to come. God is using this life for the believer as a training ground for the life to come. If we are faithful to use well all the gifts and opportunities God has given us, God will give us more in the new heaven and the new earth. This is the principle that we find in the proverb we are looking at today. So let us be faithful servants of God so that we may produce much fruit to the glory of God.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hey! Did You Hear About What Joe Did?

 Perhaps you are wondering why I continue to write about some of the proverbs. Most of these blog post come out of my morning devotions. I am working verse by verse though the book of proverbs. I make comments and observations in a notebook. Each week I select one proverb to write about in a deeper fashion. It is good for me to carefully consider the proverb and make deeper application for I am not able to do so in the time I have in morning. I also pray that what I am taught by God would benefit you as well. This is the purpose of this blog. I don't aim to be conterversial. I don't care for superficial subjects. This is not a blog of jokes and humor. We hope to proclaim the truth and call for holy living to the glory of God. We want you to know Him as we desire to know Him. My wife has been too tired to blog lately, so that's why most of the blogs are mine. That being said, let us look at another proverb.

"The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body."
Proverbs 18:8
Imagine for a moment, you are at a friend's house. You are sitting together in the living room talking. Then someone comes around with a plate of delicious brownies or cookies. The plate come to you and you are asked if you want one. They look so good, how can you say no. Gossip is like that. We have a hard time resisting listening to gossip. Gossip is to the ears and the sinful heart what brownies are to the taste buds. Gossip appeals to our self righteous nature. When we hear what so and so did, we feel like we aren't so bad. Gossip brings pride and a smugness. Gossip can make us feel special. We may be the select few that know this about this person. We are part of the club. Gossip can inflate our ego.  
  When is telling a certain fact about someone gossip? There seems to be a fine line when it comes to gossip. Our hearts are deceitful above all things and can trick us into thinking we are relating this for some noble purpose. We may share the "news" under the false disguise of making it a matter of prayer. Also gossip doesn't have to false to be gossip. The events may be true or half true. A helpful way to keep ourselves from telling gossip or listening to gossip is to ask ourselves a few questions before we speak. Is this for the good of the person who is spoken of? Is this said in love? Do we truly care for the spiritual welfare of the person? We need to consider these questions before we speak or hear gossip, for gossip can do much damage. 

The last part of this proverb speaks of how gossip can affect us and others. Gossip, like that yummy brownie, goes down inside us. It has an effect on us. The gossip we hear of a person will affect how we think, act, and talk about a particular person. Gossip will shape and mold how we view other people. We may desire to unhear the story, but it is impossible but for God's power and grace. Gossip can separate close friends. (Proverbs 16:28.) Gossip brings quarrels and fighting. (Proverbs 26:20.) Avoid gossip like a deadly plague!

Lastly, let us confess our sins of gossip before the Lord knowing that He will cleanse us from all sins because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Also, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29



Monday, June 15, 2015

The Fear of The LORD

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 1:7
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight"
Proverbs 9:10
What does it mean to fear the LORD? This is an important question for it is the theme of Proverbs. But this expression is found throughout the Old and New Testaments. So it is important to understand what the Scriptures mean when it talks of the fear of the LORD. As we learn from the two verses quoted above, the fear of the LORD is essential for wisdom. In fact if we don't fear the LORD, we will never find wisdom or true knowledge. We will be fools till the day we die. The fear of the LORD is essential for salvation. So, we need to know what it means to fear the LORD.
The fear of the LORD is produced by a knowledge of God and ourselves which is revealed to us in Scripture. God has revealed His character to us on the pages of the Bible. We see God revealed as holy, almighty, all knowing, eternal, infinite, good, just and righteous. We cannot fear someone we don't know. The knowledge of God is essential to fearing Him. Scripture also reveals who we are as well in relation to this God. The Bible teaches that we are sinful and guilty before the Holy One. We are spiritually dead and unable to save ourselves. We are dependent on God for everything. Yet we hate God and will suffer the just wrath deserving to such enemies of God. This Biblical knowledge is vital to fearing God, but it is not enough.
The fear of the LORD is seen in running to the LORD in humility, repentance and obedience based on the knowledge of who God is and who we are. Some people, like Adam and Eve after they sinned, run from the holy, just Judge. But the true fear of the LORD results in a fear of God that leads to running to God.  The fear of God brings humility, not pride. We now compare ourselves before the infinite God. As we behold the glory of God, we shrink in our estimation of ourselves. We are but dust and ashes before the Eternal One. We see our terrible guilt before God, who is pure and good. We begin to hate our sin and leave our sin. So we run to God for grace and mercy. We come as beggars desperate for salvation. The true fear of the LORD brings forgiveness, a new heart, and a new relationship with the LORD.
When we truly begin to fear God, then we begin to be wise. The wisdom of Proverbs cannot be yours without the fear of God. The one who does fear God will study Proverbs to obtain skill in living in relationship with God and with people. Without a right fear of the LORD, the study of Proverbs will only make one a self-righteous moralist.
Lastly, we need to grow in the fear of the LORD.  The continued study and application of Scripture will lead to a greater and greater knowledge and fear of the LORD.  The fear of the LORD is learnt from the Word of God. So a study of God's Word is needed for us to deepen in our fear and reverence of God.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Sovereignty of the Lord and the Casting of Lots

"The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord."
Proverbs 16:33
Nothing in this world happens by chance. Nothing is random. Nothing is out of order. The Lord is in control of everything. From major details to minor details, nothing is outside of God's control, plan and purpose. We must recognize this and learn to accept with thanksgiving and praise all the happenings of this life that come from our Father in heaven who is wise, good, and sovereign. It is a shame and a testimony to our lack of faith when we so often complain, groan, and even get angry at the difficulties that God sends our way. Trials are for our good. God has a good purpose in all that happens in our lives. The Lord is good and always does what is good, but He doesn't always do what we think is good.  We need to then live by faith; trusting in our God.
So this proverb is another reminder that God is in control of everything, even things we consider random, such as the lot. What is the casting of lots? It was a way of determining the will of God in a certain situation. The exact method for doing so is unknown. Maybe stones were marked and thrown down into the fold of one's robe as this proverb suggests. It would be a similar idea to when we roll a dice or flip a coin. Casting lots was done often in the Old Testament to determine God's will. We see it done to determine which tribe will inherit what piece of land in Joshua 18:10. Jonah was selected by lot as the cause of the great storm. Lots were cast to determine whether Saul or Jonathan had violated Saul's foolish curse. 1 Samuel 14. The 11 apostles cast lots to choose a new apostle to replace Judas. Acts 1:26. This is the last time we read of the casting of lots in the Bible. I think this is important when we ask the question, "Can we use the casting of lots to make decisions today?"  Soon after the lot was thrown to choose Matthias, the Spirit come down at Pentecost. After Pentecost, we don't hear about anyone casting lots to make a decision. With the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost and the completion of the New Testament, the casting of lots is not needed as it was before Pentecost. When making decisions, we have the Spirit within us to help and guide us. We have the word of God to teach us the revealed will of God and to give us wise principles. We can ask the counsel of wise and godly brothers and sisters in Christ. Prayer is very important in seeking the guidance of God. Fasting is also another means we can use to seek the will of God. See how prayer and fasting was used by the church in Antioch to select missionaries. Acts 13:1-2  This is the usual and normal means that New Testament believers can go about make a decision.
So is there ever a time when we can cast lots as a way of determining God's will? I believe so, but it would be a rare thing. It would occur only after we have done all the ways ordained by Scripture listed above. If, after doing all that, we are still faced with options that are acceptable to God, we could cast lots. But it must be done with much prayer and seriousness. And when the lot is cast, we must accept the result as being from the Lord and do as directed. This is what Mathew Henry said about lots, "When solemn appeals are made to Providence by the casting of lots, for the deciding of that matter of moment which could not otherwise be at all, or not so well decided, God must be eyed in it by prayer, that it may be disposed aright and by acquiescing in it when it is disposed; being satisfied that the hand of God is in it and that hand directed by infinite wisdom." 
It is a great comfort to believers that the Lord is in control of everything. We should look to this God for direction as we make decisions and look to Him for the grace and strength to go through the trials of this life.