Enticed by Sin!

“My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them” (Proverbs 1:10 NIV).

Although Solomon is addressing his son, the advice is relevant to all–men and women.

“If those who are living in sin, doing all those things that God has said is sin, try to entice you to do likewise, don’t do it.”

Sinful–full of sin–those who see no wrong in doing anything and everything the flesh dictates–“just doing it”–lying, stealing, abusing and molesting children, cheating on wives and husbands, fornication (all sexual sin), favoritism, blasphemy, turning God’s Truth into lies to suit their behavior and encouraging others to do what they do–sin.

How do we avoid being enticed to engage in sin?  We stay away from those who commit sin and encourage others to do so. We study God’s Word. We work on developing and maintaining a right relationship with God. We focus on hearing and obeying God. This is how we avoid being enticed by those who would lead us into behaviors that would not please God.

When we understand the consequences of our actions and that our actions lead to negative consequences, we should not want to participate. However, when we are interested in doing those things that appease flesh, we are easily led astray.

Unfortunately, the temptation to please self and flesh often overrule common sense--the wisdom needed to know that temporary gratification will not lead to lasting happiness. James reminds us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God for wisdom and He will give it without making us feel foolish. When we operate in the wisdom of God, we make good decisions and can look forward to the positive outcomes that will result in lasting happiness.

Having respect for our bodies–the temple where Holy Spirit dwells (if we are filled with the Spirit of God), means that we avoid behaviors that will destroy the body. Much of the illness and disease we suffer is due to behaviors that are contrary to keeping our bodies healthy, including our eating habits, lack of exercise, smoking, drugs, unprotected sex, etc. Respecting God’s Word in all things will keep us mindful of living healthy lives, keeping our temples undefiled, and focused on pleasing God.

Lord Jesus, help us to recognize who people are by their conduct and steer clear of any who would entice us to sin against You!

The Beginning of Wisdom!

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7 NIV).

This selection of wisdom provided by Solomon to his son is as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago.

Who better to tell someone about respecting and reverencing God other than one who started life in His reign totally dependent upon God and then, turned away from God’s instruction to pacify  his flesh (namely all the wives)?

When Solomon admonishes his son by saying “fools despise wisdom and instruction” he knows what he saying. He did not completely follow God’s instruction and although he was given wisdom beyond measure out of obedience at the beginning of his reign, he lost sight of what he had. He became a braggart, showing off all God had given and allowed his ego and pride to overrule common sense. As a result, he did not live to see or receive all of God’s promises to him fulfilled.

What do we learn from Solomon’s experience? A study of Proverbs (or the book of Wisdom) helps us to understand self, flesh, others and God and what it means to obey His Word.

The first thing we have to do in order to receive and understand God’s wisdom is to keep Him in the position greatest honor and reverence. This what “fear” means in this passage–not that we should be afraid of God, but to reverence Him and honor Him enough to always obey.

In many homes, children are taught to respect and honor parents and to some–it might appear that the children fear the parents. What is more important to note is that obedient children, when they are loved and nurtured and admonished about behavior, usually do not want to disappoint their parents, so they obey them as a matter of respect and honor. We should do the same with God–obey Him out of a desire to not want to disappoint Him.

This desire–to please God and not disappoint Him–is the beginning of Wisdom!

 

 

What Does The Lord Say?

For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:7 NIV)

Solomon’s instructions to his son have endured for the benefit of all mankind. The real question is--are we listening?

We listen to everyone who has something to say for just about everything–we know the lyrics of songs that do nothing to honor women or promote respect for others; we listen to naysayers who refute and oppose everything God says; we listen to those who attempt to change God’s Word to support their fleshly desires that do nothing to benefit them or anyone else; we listen to the news media who seldom report anything good; we listen to family and friends who do not have a relationship with God and then they advise us; we listen to children telling us how unfair we are and give into their childish demands instead of parenting them; we listen–to just about everyone but The Lord.

If someone asks us what the Lord says about things–we stutter and stammer–trying to remember, but if someone asks us about an athlete or celebrity–we have a ready answer on our tongues. The real problem is–nothing the athletes or celebrities or anyone else has to say will pave the way into heaven–unless they are saying what the Lord says!

Getting into heaven is simple–we discover what The Lord says and do it. He has established a path for us and He is a shield for those who live right–according to His Word. Success on earth is guaranteed for those who hear what The Lord says. What does The Lord say? “If we keep His commands, then everything we put our hands to will have good success.” (Joshua 1:7,8) Love–the ultimate obedience to keeping His commands–Him and others–for if we do this–we would not sin against Him or others and especially not our own bodies.

What do you hear The Lord saying to you?

Hear, Learn, Attain!

“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels” (Proverbs 1:5)

Wisdom from God can only be heard in the Spirit, before the wisdom can make one wise in the natural. When wisdom is “heard” we can proceed in making wise decisions–decisions that will not cause us regret or harm.

Once we have heard the voice of God speaking wisdom into our spirits, we will increase in learning–both spiritually and naturally. We shall make room for all we need to know in order to be the best representative of God that we can be and in producing means to assist others in the natural realm. All knowledge comes from God whether we believe that or not. We come into the world knowing absolutely nothing and yet some achieve more wisdom and knowledge than others because they were willing to hear–God’s voice (not their consciences that could nothing apart from God anyway).

When we truly “understand” that we know nothing apart from God and that we need His direction in all we do, then we shall be considered wise and others will seek our counsel in all matters because they know they can trust what we say and do.

The fear of the Lord (reverential respect for God and His ways) is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

If we are not wise and walking in the wisdom of God, then we are fools doing foolish things.

Lord, help us to be wise and do all things to Your glory, not our own so that we will not appear foolish in anything. Create desire in us to move forward by Your direction only so we won’t have to back-up and retreat in order to keep going. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen!

For Long Life, Peace and Prosperity!

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity” (Proverbs 3:1,2 NIV).

“Do not forget my teaching”–what teaching was Solomon referencing? His teaching about all He knew about God and living a life that pleases God. I have often had my children’s friends come back to me when they become adults and remind me of the things I taught them. One young lady in particular, almost had an accident during a snowstorm, but she remembered what I had said about driving on slippery roads and avoided an accident. Many of them still remember bible study at my house and the things they learned when they were kids.

“Keep my commands in your heart”--why? If we hold fast to our instructions in righteousness, we will not disobey or disappoint. Whatever is in the heart of man (or woman) will surely come to light. Perhaps, this is why scripture tells us that God is not concerned with the external trappings of man, but looks at our hearts.

For they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity”–what will? Keeping the commands/instructions given (obedience) we were given. Imagine that!

Let’s look at how that might work in our society.

“Look both ways before crossing the street” –won’t get run-down by a car.

“Don’t spend every dime you get, save money (learn to invest)”–if we save, we’ll have money when we need it.

“Treat people the way you want to be treated” –unless there is something seriously wrong with a person, most want to be treated with courtesy and kindness. If we do this, we effect peace where we are.

“Learn to respect self, others and the property of others”–when we respect others, there is no need for strife and we will not kill, steal, or destroy.

“Eat your vegetables”–proven to have not just nutritional value, but can thwart the growth of cancer cells.

“Stay away from drugs and alcohol”--drugs change the chemical production in our brains and cause us to be delusional and eventually erodes any sense of rational thinking and so can alcohol, when misused. When we destroy brain cells, we destroy our ability to function at maximum potential.

There are so many other things I could say, but this is not the appropriate forum. Perhaps, I’ll expound more in a book, specifically dedicated to a reflection about Proverbs 3.

So, if we want long life, peace and prosperity, we need to be obedient–not just to parents, but to God and those in position of authority (teachers, laws of the land, etc.). (Please read the rest of this passage to the end–very powerful and pertains to our lives today.)

Now, just to look at things in a balanced perspective–if we don’t do all the things that Solomon was advising us to do, we won’t have long life, peace or prosperity. Could it be that this is the reason the world is in the shape it is in today? Hmmm. Something to think about!

What a novel concept! Disobedience leading to shortened lives, unrest, and poverty! This should not be a surprise to anyone if we understood that the act of disobedience is what caused man’s fall from God’s favor in the beginning with Adam and Eve. Nothing new under the sun–just recycled stupidity and foolishness when people refuse to listen and obey. We cannot keep doing things the same way, expecting to get different results (Einstein’s definition of insanity), it just won’t happen. We need to wake up, acknowledge where we are, and make some changes in what we do and how we do them. The first step is in seeking God and His wisdom to guide us in all things.

Lord, help us today to see the truth of Your Word and how it applies to every area of our lives.  Pour into us Your wisdom so we can get living right according to Your Word and then be in position to receive all that You have promised.

 

 

Simpleton or Fool?

“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?” (Proverbs 1:22 NIV)

Though many may think the Proverbs have no relevance for us today in contemporary society, they are rich in wisdom and only a fool would ignore the implications. The same snares and pitfalls that doomed men and women during Solomon’s time are still snaring and dooming people today.

From the beginning, God uses Solomon to guide us-with nuggets of wisdom that are relevant for any era. Why Solomon? When Solomon became King of Israel, God granted him anything he asked for and Solomon asked for “wisdom” to govern the people. God was so pleased with Solomon’s request that He granted him wisdom and gave him riches because he demonstrated that material wealth was not his primary concern.

There are some who say that many of the Proverbs are Chinese in origin and the writers of the bible are in error. Here’s a thought. If wisdom is wisdom–no matter the source–should we refute or negate it’s importance? I think not. Wisdom is the key to creativity and it is not restricted by any types of limits–we simply have to “receive” it. Everything that mankind has made is the result of the wisdom endowed by God that stirs up the creativity that resides within all of us. Some of use the gift more than others, but that is a choice we all make.

So who are the simple? Those who have closed minds and are foolish (according to Strong’s translation from the Hebrew). They have no desire to seek wisdom because they are happy with what little they have. (Hence the origin of the expression–“Ignorance is bliss.”)

The fools (and this has been repeated through the Proverbs) scorn wisdom and knowledge and make fun of people who demonstrate having knowledge and exercising wisdom in all things. When people do not understand certain things, their immediate reaction is to refute or negate its relevance or importance. If they cannot handle the fact that others have more knowledge than they or exercise wisdom before making decisions when they don’t, they tend to get upset with the other person–simply because they do not understand.

I believe (you don’t have to believe the same) that one of the reasons James tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God for wisdom and He gives liberally (in abundance), without condemnation or chastisement. I’m sure James remembered what happened with Solomon and understood the importance of our exercising our faith–tempered with wisdom.

If a person chooses to be a simpleton or a fool–that is their prerogative–let them remain in that state. However, if that position is a choice, please stop putting down others for making the choice to be wise–gathering knowledge and learning how to use it to the glory of God.

We choose what we do with what God has given us. He has given us all the same opportunity to do great things if we would simply obey His Word and become “doers of The Word and not just hearers of The Word.”

Lord, help us today to always seek You first in all that we do so that You get the glory and we have a testimony about how good You are.

What Will You Receive?

“To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God” (Ecclesiastes 2:26 NIV).

The writer, who most conclude to be Solomon before his health failed, provides us with nuggets of wisdom and insight that pertain to all–whether in relationship with God or not.

Sometimes, we don’t want to hear both sides of the story and there are usually two sides of every story.  We love to hear all the good stuff–the prosperity, fame, victory, etc., but there is another side of the story which will happen whether we believe it or not. In more than one place in scripture (in the Psalms, Proverbs, Zechariah, etc.) we are told that those who gather wealth–outside of a relationship with God–will see those in relationship with God, enjoy their riches.

God has stated in His Word that He has given us (His Children) power to get wealth and when we please Him, we get to enjoy it. When we don’t please Him, we won’t.  At this stage of life, here on earth, we must be more concerned about pleasing God, than pleasing man. Man’s favor may last for only a moment, but the favor of God will last as long as we please Him.

What to do, what to do? For those in relationship with God, there is but one answer. Our conduct and our lives must demonstrate what it is we want to receive from God–from which side of the fence (or the story). Our history–can be written with one of two endings–we lived to please God and enjoyed the abundance of His goodness or we lived to please self and suffered the consequences of our actions–sowing, but never reaping!

In which reception line will you be found? Receiving the wealth by pleasing God or watching others enjoy the fruit of your labor?

O God, help us to stay in position to please You and receive all of Your many benefits that we may be a blessing to others as You have blessed us.

Wisdom and Instruction

“but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm” (Proverbs 1:33 NIV).

In the very first chapter of Proverbs–commonly referred to as the book of wisdom–we are see the importance of knowing God. In fact, Solomon begins by reminding us that, “the fear (reverential respect) of The Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:1 NIV). Throughout this conversation, we are told what happens when people refuse to hear God and obey and God’s reaction to our disobedience.

James tell us that “if any lack wisdom, ask of God who gives it liberally without condemnation” (paraphrased). Wisdom is mentioned 234 times in the KJV and instruction 33 times and knowledge 172 times, obey 69 times, pray 313 times, God 4,447. So, what’s the point? Wisdom, knowledge, and talking to God are important to Him.

Scoffers have always rebelled against any knowledge of God because they simply want to live their lives any way they choose. This is the way it has been since the beginning and this is still the way in the hearts of many. Any time a person or groups denies the credibility of The Bible or God–it is because they do not want to live a righteous life. By refusing to acknowledge moral values, they exempt themselves from the consequences of disobedience–they think.

When people violate or ignore “man’s laws” there are consequences when caught and man’s law states, “ignorance of the law is not an excuse to violate it” and fines or the consequences for breaking the law must be paid. What the rebellious have forgotten is that most of “man’s laws” were based on biblical principles. And now that lawmakers are changing laws, they think they are changing God’s principles, but when the consequences come due, they will understand that ignorance of God’s principles is not an excuse to ignore them or violate them. For those who have the mind of Christ, look around at our society right now and see the destruction already coming upon the land and know that when it’s over, God will have pronounced His judgment upon all because we refused to hear and obey.

What can we–who know God–do? We can continue to pray. “If my people, who are called by my name, would humble themselves and pray, turn from their wicked ways, and seek my face, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal the land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). The Believers must act with wisdom and follow God’s instructions–love Him and love others, and promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ by our actions.  We must become the true ambassadors in order to save the lost. When we think we lack wisdom in doing the will of God, we must ask Him for more wisdom and He won’t think less of us when we do.

Before the trumpet sounds, we must make sure we have built our faith on a solid foundation and know without a doubt, we have attained the right to enter into our eternal place of rest, to be with The Lord. When we listen to God, we have no need to fear what the enemy might do because the enemy is already defeated for those who know and hear God.

Help us O God, to always hear You and obey!