Thoughts on life and Scripture...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Little Creatures, Big Truths

"Four things on the earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; the rock badger are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; the lizard you can take in your hand, yet it is in king's palaces.
Proverbs 30:24-28

 The creation around us is full of wonderful illustrations of Divine truth. The One who made the world is the same who wrote His word for us in the Bible. So it is natural that God should use His creatures to reinforce the truth of His word. Guided by the Scriptures, we can observe the creatures around us to learn wisdom. This is what Agur did. He is the author of this chapter. In the verses we are looking at, Agur points to four small, weak animals that teach us some wise lessons. These animals are ants, rock badgers, locusts, and lizards.


Ants are very small insects. We can easily crush them. Yet they survive many troubles and dangers. Ants teach us to work hard. They are used as examples of diligence and hard work in Proverbs 6 6-8. But they also work smart by planning for the future. In summer when there is lots of food, they gather food to store it for the winter when food is scarce. God has put in these little creatures the wisdom to prepare for the future. Ants are a rebuke to the sluggard. Ants are a rebuke to those who live only in the moment without any thought for the future. Ants don't have brains like us, yet they are wiser than some people. We should do our work heartily as unto the Lord. Like ants, we need to consider future needs and problems and prepare for them.

Rock badgers

Rock badgers are a small gopher-like creature. Here is a link to some info and pictures of rock badgers. They don't have much of a defense against predators. But they are wise enough to recognize their weakness and seek their safety in something else. They live in the rocks and cliffs. There among the cracks and heights, they are safe from many of their enemies. We are weak too. We are no match for our foes. Our only safety is in the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. He is our rock, our fortress, our strong tower. "For God alone, my soul waits in silence; from Him alone comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken." Psalm 62:1-2. We need to turn to God for our salvation and daily look to Him to protect and strengthen us.


One little locust is not a problem. But when they gather together in great masses, these insects are a great terror. They can ruin a country in a short time as they eat all the green vegetation. Together they are more destructive than an army of soldiers. Yet this army of locusts has no leaders. They march together side by side as they cause desolation in their wake. How can they work together for a single purpose without a leader? God has put this ability inside their little heads. The church does have a leader, Jesus Christ. He has also provided elders to lead his people. Shouldn't we be able, with leaders, to work together with one purpose to accomplish the healing work that God has given us? Locusts can work together without a leader. Surely we can cooperate together to bring the gospel to sinners with leaders. Too often Christians let petty differences divide them. Christians are too often divided, distracted, and given to infighting and so the work of Christ suffers. Learn from the locust to work together to accomplish the Great Commission.


Some lizards can fit in the palm of your hand. They are powerless to escape from your grasp. Yet these humble little animals can find a way to get into the palaces of kings. There they live in the presence of great and powerful men and women. How do they do this? They use their ability to walk on walls and slip though tight spots to enter areas that the average person cannot enter. I have seen these kinds of lizards in Cuba. They are swift and agile. They use this to their advantage. Perhaps this example from the lizard illustrates another proverb: Proverbs 22:28 says "Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men." I think the truth is no matter how weak and small you are, use your gifts and abilities to do the very best work possible. Often when we aim for high quality work, we will rise above others and be recognized by great men. Surely it is always true that when we are faithful to use our gifts to the glory of God, He will be pleased and tell us, "Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master." Matthew 25:23.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

An Excellent Wife

'An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.'
-Proverbs 31:10

As women, we often compare ourselves to the Proverbs 31 woman and can become discouraged because we know we fall short. What woman on this earth is an excellent wife? What wife does her husband good and not harm all the days of her life? What wife is so hard working as is portrayed in Proverbs 31? What wife opens her mouth with wisdom at all times and is kind at all times? What wife is not at times anxious or worried about the future? We all are. We all fall short of the Proverbs 31 woman. We are all sinful human beings, and the woman described in Proverbs 31 is perfect.
This should not discourage us, however. Instead, we can look at this text as an example of what we can strive for--what we can ask Christ to work in us so that we can better glorify Him in our roles as wives, mothers, and women in general.
We have to remember that an excellent wife is a gift from the Lord. We are not excellent wives on our own. 'House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.' Proverbs 19:14.

So, let's take a look at what some of the virtues of an excellent wife are.
An excellent wife has her husband's best interests at heart. He does not need to worry when he is away from home that she will dishonor him or waste his estate. She does not abuse the confidence that he has in her, but seeks to make herself more worthy of it. She is not like the wife described in Proverbs 21:9, 'It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife', or see also Proverbs 25:24.

Instead, she builds up her household and does not tear it down (Proverbs 14:1). In other words, she does good to her household--her husband and children (Titus 2:4). Some ways in which she does good to her household include being hardworking. She works with willing hands (Proverbs 31:13), rises while it is yet night (v. 15) to prepare her household for the day ahead. She uses her physical strength (v. 17) and her lamp does not go out at night (v. 18). That doesn't mean she doesn't sleep, but she will work into the night if needed to get the things done that need to get done. She does not eat the bread of idleness (v. 27).

Another way that she does good to her household is that she is kind (v. 26.) Kindness is on her tongue. Though she may need to discipline or rebuke, she does so with kindness. Her words are wise (Ephesians 4:29) and she is careful with her words, not using them to slander others (Titus 2:3).
An excellent wife is also prepared--prepared for the snow, by having her family well-dressed (v. 21). In fact, she laughs at the time to come (v. 25). There is no worry about the future because she is prepared and also because she trusts in the Lord.

An excellent wife also uses the gifts and talents that she has been given for the good of her household. (v. 18 ,19, 22) In fact, she even uses them to better her household financially (v. 24). 

Not only to her own household but also to others does she do good. She reaches out to the needy and opens her hand to the poor (v. 20). We can assume that if she is helping others that she has already attended to the needs of her household. It is also an outpouring of her heart--it shows that she has a heart of compassion, mercy, and kindness.

All these things are a result of a woman who fears the Lord. An excellent wife is wise and wisdom is from fearing the Lord. Proverbs 9:10, 'The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.' (Also see: Proverbs 1:7, 15:33, Job 28:28, Psalm 111:10)
For more on the fear of the Lord, you can always refer back to this post written by Brad.

Having seen what an excellent wife is, we can strive to become more and more like that. We can ask the Spirit to work in our hearts to give us greater wisdom, kindness, and love--to help us to fight against the sins that we struggle with in our roles, so that we may not revile the Word of God (Titus 2:5).

You Need the Vision

"Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law."
Proverbs 29:18

"You need a vision for the future." That was what we were told some years ago at a conference. The speaker told us how we need to have a plan for the future. We need to make goals and work towards accomplishing them. Don't wander aimlessly in life. Now that is all fine and dandy, but he used the proverb we are looking at today to back this up. The problem is this proverb has nothing to do with making plans and goals for the future. This might be clear from the translation I used here, but the King James Version which the speaker used says the proverb like this, "Where there is no vision the people perish." This speaker's problem in interpretating this proverb was a failure to understand the Biblical meaning of vision and to study closely the second line of the proverb as it sheds light on the meaning of the text. This proverb really speaks about the result of a lack of God's word and the result of hearing and obeying God's word.

The word vision refers to the means by which God often revealed His word to His prophets in the Old Testament. 1 Samuel 3:1 says "And the Word of The LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision." The book of Nahum is called "The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh." Nahum1:1. There are other places where prophets are given visions by God.  To have God's word is a great blessing. For God to remove His word is a great curse. In fact the absence of prophets and God's word was part of God's judgement of Israel. In Amos 8:11-12, God said He would send a famine of the word of the LORD. In Micah 3:6-7 God promised that there would be no visions and no answer from God as a judgement on the false prophets of that day. See also Ezekiel 7:26 and Psalm 74:9 for some other example of a lack of God's word in judgement.

The result of an absence of the word of God is that people are unrestrained. Without God's word to govern what they believe and how they are to live, truth and morality is left to each individual. This is what we see in the times of the Judges, which was a time when the word of God was rare. "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." Judges 21:25. Moral chaos reigned. Israel had turned to idols from worshipping God and God in judgement took away His word which led to a greater plunge into darkness. It was only God's grace that saved them when God sent His word through Samuel to lead the people back to Him. We can see this principle at work in our days. People in our country have rejected the Bible. They want to remove anything to do with Christianity. Other countries have banned the word of God and the results are disastrous. Without God's word as the objective standard on truth and morality, people believe whatever they want to believe and people live however they want to live. And who can object? Or consider how this plays out in churches. When people do not conform the practise of the church to the scriptures, the church becomes whatever people want it to be. Then the church ceases to be the church of Christ.

How blessed are the people who have God's law and put it into practise. The law here refers to all of God's word not specially to the Mosaic law. It is not the having of God's word that brings blessing, but the obedience to its commands. Neglecting God's word is the same as rejecting it.  The Bible is a great treasure. It reveals to us what is true and false. It teaches us what is right and wrong. God, though His word, directs us to Christ as the only way of salvation for lost sinners.  We need faithful preaching which seeks to explain what God's word means and how it applies. We need Christians to do the hard work of searching and studying the scriptures on their own. We need to examine every part of our lives and beliefs to see if they conform to the word of God. "Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:20. We need to stop allowing the culture and traditions to define our practice and doctrine. The Bible must be central in all things. When it is, how happy and blessed we shall be.
     Reader, do you prize the word of God more than your bank account? Do you delight in its truth more than your favorite food or hobby?
Sola Scriptura forever! 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The War Against Abortion

      I would like to break with my normal blog posts about Proverbs and focus on a matter that I feel is very important. I would like to show the root cause for abortion and what is the best way to deal with abortion. I am not going to show how terrible abortion is. This is assumed. It is murder. I think this is very self evident. When people want their baby, it is a baby and we do all we can to protect the baby, even the government encourages us to do this. When we don't want the baby, then we are permitted by the government to kill the baby. Such is the strange hypocrisy in our land.

 The reason people allow, perform, and ask for abortions is not a lack of information. We know more about what happens in the womb than all the generations before us. We have ultrasound machines. We have research and pictures. These may reinforce what we already know deep down inside that this baby is really alive. But abortions are legal not because of a lack of information. Abortions are legal because of the sin of mankind's heart.

Abortion is a spiritual problem. When we fight against abortion, we are engaged in a spiritual war. People allow, perform, and ask for abortions because they are selfish and proud. Abortion is a form of child sacrifice to our idols. The Israelites were warned never to sacrifice their children to the god Molech. "You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD." Lev 18:21. If they did, they were to be killed. And if other Israelites ignore what happens, God would kill them as well. See Leviticus 20:1-5. While our country does not worship Molech, it does worship other gods that may require the sacrifice of infants. The god Work may demand a child sacrifice when that child gets in the way of a career. The god Pleasure may demand a child sacrifice to get rid of the consequences of sexual promiscuity. We could go on, but really the god above these gods that asks for child sacrifice is the god Self. Self desires children to be sacrificed when ever the child prevents Self from pursuing what it wants. We abort babies because by nature we want to be God just like Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit. People are lovers of themselves. They have rejected God and His Word. They want to be God, so they can live as they please. Since they have rejected God, God has given them over to a debased mind. They call what is good evil and what is evil good. They don't want to listen to why abortion is wrong. The root cause of abortion is the wicked heart of man. Jesus said, "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder...." Mark 7:21. Abortion is murder and it comes from the wicked heart of man.

 Since abortion is a spiritual problem, it must be addressed by using a spiritual solution. If it is spiritual warfare, then we are fight against it with spiritual weapons. All other methods of ending abortion will ultimately fail, since they don't address the root of this sin; that is the heart. "For though we walk in the flesh, we are waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
What weapons has God given us? We have two weapons to fight this spiritual war. The first weapon is the Word of God. " the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:17b.  The truth is used to combat lies. God's word is powerful. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is he power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..." Romans 1:16. When it is preached, taught, explained, or read, the Spirit uses the Word of God to destroy the lies of Satan. The word of God is used by the Spirit to convert sinners and make them born again. "Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God."1 Peter 1:23.
 The second weapon we have in this spiritual war is prayer, "praying at all times in the Spirit," Ephesians 6:18a.  "The prayer of a righteous man has great power as it is working." James 5:16. Prayer is asking for the help of a Sovereign God with infinite power. He can change hearts, governments, laws and nations. With these two weapons we are fully equipped for any spiritual battle.

The most effective way to end abortion is then to use these two spiritual weapons. We need the word of God faithfully preached in churches so Christians are equipped to go out into the world and bring the gospel to those they come in contact with. Healthy churches that zealously evangelize will have the greatest impact on the culture. Praying churches and Christians are a powerful weapon against the sins of our time. These are more powerful to end abortion than all other methods and weapons of the flesh.

Christ commissioned His Church to "make disciples of all nations" and to teach "them to observe all that I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19,20 We are not called to change our culture. But when we do what we have been called to do then we have the greatest possibility to change our culture. We can be sure that when we do God's work in God's way that He will bless it. Our task is to be faithful to what God has called us and to leave the results in His hands. We may not change our culture. We may not end abortion. Those are not the goals of the Church. Faithfulness to the commission of our Lord is.

My concern is many churches have become side tracked in their task. Instead of being faithful to reach others with the gospel and teach others the gospel, we have focused more on ending abortion, influencing politics, and other social issues like euthanasia or childhood hunger. Some people seem more concerned about ending abortion than evangelizing to the lost souls around us. Our focus and passion for pro-life endeavors are overshadowing what Christ has commissioned us to do. Let me show by way of an illustration how important it is that we stay on task. A general has come up with a very detailed battle plan. Each regiment has a task to do that is key to the success of the battle. The officers are given their orders for the battle. But suppose one officer during the battle decides that the general was wrong about his objective. This officer thinks it is more important to attack another enemy stronghold. So he directs his troops to attack his objective. This foolish disobedience would greatly hinder the success of the battle. The same is true for the Christian soldier fighting the Lord's battles. Follow His plans!

 Another concern I have is the way they fight against abortion using the weapons of this world. The weapons of this world, such as protesting or political activism, can't be effective to stop abortion. Such weapons are of limited value as they cannot break the hard hearts of those who support abortion. Our country is becoming more and more depraved. Sin has a hardening effect. There is a moral downward spiral that we cannot get out of no matter what laws are made or what government we have. Our country has rejected God and the truth. Those in power, the government and the media, are the most corrupt or they refuse to do anything. Our country is a living example of Romans 1: 18-32. We may slow the slide with fleshly weapons, but we can't stop it. Only God could stop it with a revival and a reformation of the church. Use God's weapons!

I would say in conclusion, the war against abortion is best fought by staying true to the commission of our King and using His weapons. I do believe that we need to remind our governments in a respectful way of their duty to protect the lives of the unborn. We are blessed to have this freedom as we live in a democracy, unlike so many countries. While this is of some importance, it is always secondary to our commission to spread the gospel and live the gospel. Without that, all other efforts to end abortion are vain.



Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Tale of Two Ways

In the kingdom of Cardia, there was two cities that were separated by a mountainous wilderness. Between the two cities there was in ancient times a road built. This road was difficult, but the safest and surest way to get to the other city. But a certain deceitful fellow come one day to the beginning of the road. There he set up a booth where he sold for very cheap maps and compasses. These were to be sold so people could find their own way though the wilderness to reach the other city. Those who passed by the booth were promised that by using the maps and compasses they would reach the city faster. They would have more adventure and ease on their way. They would have none of the difficulty that would be found on the other way. The problem was that all the compasses were defective in some way. The maps were filled with many errors so that they could be of no value in reaching the destination. This deceitful fellow's ploy worked very well. Soon the old path was almost forgotten and grown over with plants and shrubs. Those who took what this fellow sold, soon found that it did not deliver what was promised. Everyone who used the maps and compasses became hopelessly lost. Many were dashed to pieces from falling over cliffs. Some were eaten by wild beasts. Some had the unfortunate demise of being eaten by a large dragon. None of those who used these defective instruments ever reached the intended destination. The king of this kingdom on hearing of this deception, sent his son to drive out this deceiver. He then sent out his servants to seek those who were lost and tell them the way back to the path and to give them a reliable map. Some listened to these servants and by and by came back to the path and reached the far off city. As long as they followed the map and stayed on the path, their journey went well. Others refused to listen and continued on their doomed quest.

This story while failing to illustrate all of the truth, does explain the truth contained in this proverb. "Whoever trusts in his own mind(or heart)is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered." Proverbs 28:26. How many songs on the radio can you think of that tell you to trust your heart? This is the wisdom of the world. Trusting your heart is foolish. Like a defective map or compass, it will always lead astray. Your heart is evil and crooked. It will lead you into danger and doom. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9 Nothing is more deceitful than your heart, why would you let it guide you?

 God's Word teaches us the right way, the way of wisdom. If we trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding then He will make our paths straight. Keep to the old paths found in God's Word. It is the best way. It will bring us to the heavenly city. It is the safest way and the way filled with true joy. This path is opened up to us by the righteousness and death of Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.