Thursday, 31 August 2006

Two are better than one

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” - Ecclesiastes 4v9-12

It is tough to be alone. God never intended that for His people. When you are alone there is no one to pick you up when you fall, there is no one to cry with you, there is not one to rejoice with you, there is no one to stand my your side in battles, there is no one to correct you, and there is no one to share with.

God makes it clear that two are indeed better than one. God wants His people to have fellowship with each other. He wants us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. He wants us to join together to exhort and encourage each other. This is part of the reason why we have church, to encourage each other.
God can give us strength to be alone if we must. But his plan is for us to be together, it is not good to be alone, two is better than one, but a threefold cord is hard to break!

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

No man can find out the things of God

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.“ - Ecclesiastes 3v11-15

God is more than we can ever hope to figure out. When life seems empty and like grasping at the air it is because God has been left out of the picture. Solomon begins to figure things out just a little bit. He has figured out that:

No one can figure out what God does
We should enjoy the life God gives
Whatever God does is forever
God does what He does to draw men to Him
God will require and accounting

This alone is some pretty sound reasoning. We must realise that the world is not all about us. There is a God at work Who is carrying out His perfect plan. The sun rises and sets for a reason. The seasons come and go according to His plan. Natural disasters are going to take place and people are going to die. We are wasting our time to try to make sense of it.
Take the lesson – enjoy the life God has given, but remember, God will call for an accounting one day.

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Vanity of vanities

“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” - Ecclesiastes 1v1

Solomon found himself in a situation which all can at one time or another identify. He looked around, saw that the sun rises and sets, the winds go about their cycles, the rivers run their courses, there is nothing new under the sun. It is this kind of observance that leads men to say – “What’s it all about?”

I recently read a book by Ravi Zacharias entitled The Real Face of Atheism. In this excellent text Dr Zacharias paints a dismal view of a life without God. He points out the emptiness that results when God is pulled from the picture. When He is gone there is a void which cannot be filled.

Without God all is emptiness, vanity, and a waste. There is no purpose to life on earth unless there is God. Solomon saw this. Fortunately, at the end, he found the purpose.

All around us there are people who are stuck in their empty, aimless, hopeless lives. Let us be living so that we show them the real purpose of life.

Monday, 28 August 2006

More precious than rubies

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”
- Proverbs 31v10

What is the value of a virtuous woman? Part of what determines value is scarcity and as this verse points out a virtuous woman is a very rare thing. The writer of this particular proverb wrote it thousands of years ago, but it seems especially appropriate today. In Ireland the “ladette” culture with its drunkenness and debauchery is becoming more and more commonplace. I recently saw a woman news presenter make a very crude reference to an innocent comment by her male co-presenter. Virtuous women are rare and at a premium.

The price of a virtuous is woman is incalculable. There is no way she can be priced; it is, as the writer says, far above rubies. Any man who is married to a virtuous woman will be the first to admit it. The children of a virtuous woman realise her preciousness.
Single Christian woman should strive to study the Proverbs 31 woman. Single Christian young men should earnestly seek her out. Be aware fella, she will be hard to find, she is rare, but she is well woth it.

Sunday, 27 August 2006

Hidden Sins

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” - Proverbs 28v13

For most of us it is not the obvious, outward sins that cause us the problems. Everyone can see those so we learn to deal with them relatively early in our Christian lives. It is those other sins that can linger and cause us immense problems.

Sins like jealousy, lust, covetousness, and greed can be masked on the outside to a certain extent. Yet, they are relatively easy to hide in our hearts. One of our greatest sins is hypocrisy, which is a Greek term for “wearing a mask.” We all know how to wear our spiritual masks. We can put on a show for everyone else, but our hearts can be full of hidden sins.

We can rest assured that we cannot prosper while these sins are hidden and not dealt with. God tells us that if we are regarding sin in our hearts He won’t hear our prayers. Unconfessed, hidden sins will keep us from a right relationship with our Lord.

Yet, we have a God who is full of mercy. He is waiting for us with open arms like the prodigal son’s father. If we confess and forsake those sins he waiting to pour out His mercy on us. If we have hidden sins that are keeping us from prospering, isn’t it time that we confess and forsake them and receive His mercy?

Saturday, 26 August 2006

The mirror of our heart

“As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.” - Proverbs 27v19

Like it or not when you look in the mirror what you see is what you can’t. Mirrors can be designed to trick and fool a person, like in a hall of mirrors at a fun park, but a true mirror gives a true reflection. We may not always like what we see, but it is an honest reflection.

Our lives always reflect what is truly in our hearts. We may “bend the mirror” occasionally to fool others, but eventually the truth will be known, our lives will eventually reflect what is truly in our hearts.
May my heart always be right with God so that I reflect Him and Him alone to the world around me.

Friday, 25 August 2006

Sharper Irons

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” - Proverbs 27v17

When you want to sharpen a knife you can use a whetstone or another piece of metal. When you rub metal to metal it smoothes and hones the edges. Most people who use knives for a living are skilled at “iron sharpening iron” and you can hear the metals clashing as they skillfully sharpen their tools.

So it goes with us. There is great benefit in spiritually sharpening each other’s iron through godly, spirit-controlled discussions. Two friends who can sharpen each other with godly discussion are of inestimable value to each other. We do well to sharpen on swords on each other instead of going to battle with dull swords. If we go out unprepared we will surely be defeated.

Praise God for spiritual iron-sharpeners!

Thursday, 24 August 2006

Don’t boast about tomorrow

“Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” - Proverbs 27v1

People tend to be great plan-makers. A lot of like to set out all our plans for the future. We want to know everything that is happening everyday. Our day planners and itineraries are full to the brim with our meetings and appointments.

God has a warning for us though. We need to be aware that nothing is for certain. Tomorrow is in God’s hands. He is in control. We are wise to make our plans for the future, but we should always be aware that He is the one who ultimately controls our future. We must always be ready for God to change our plans. Unlike us He knows what is best for us and what will bring Him glory. James puts it this way – “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
The lesson is simple – make your plans, but be ready to honestly say, “If the Lord will we will do this or that.

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Actions have consequences

“Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.” - Proverbs 26v27

I recently saw and ad on the telly for a programme about two parents who allowed their children to do whatever they wanted without repercussions. The mother was nursing three children aged 8, 6, and a toddler. The children were allowed to curse their parents, wreck the house, and use the toilet wherever and whenever they wanted and the parents would clean up the mess. They felt like this would allow the children to develop their true personalities.

The problem is that this is not how the world works. In spite of what the world seems to be saying actions do have consequences. If you dig a pit, you will fall in. If you start rolling a stone eventually it is going to roll back on you. We cannot act with impunity and arrogance. What goes around comes around. You play with fire you are going to get burnt. Even the world has its little sayings for the same truth.

We must always remember that there are consequences for our actions.

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

No wood for the fire

Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.” - Proverbs 26v20-21

The famous fire triangle has three sides – fuel, oxygen, and heat. In order to have a fire you must have all of these. Remove one and the fire goes out. Fire fighters put water on a fire to reduce the heat. If you have a fire in the grate and you block off the oxygen the fire will not burn. Another way to put out a fire to cut off the fuel supply. If you stop adding fuel to the fire it will always go out.

The same thing is true when it comes to arguments and fights. If one side will stop adding fuel the fight will stop. The problem is that it is so hard to stop adding fuel. We all want to have the “last word” and as long as “last words” are being adding the fight keeps raging.
What keeps the “fire” going? It is always pride. We must come out “on top” or we feel like we have failed. Our pride tells us that we must “win” the fight. This is a marvellous lesson for us. Lets learn the lesson and strive to be the first one to stop adding the fuel.

Monday, 21 August 2006

I was only kidding

“As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, So is the man that deceiveth his neighbor, and saith, Am not I in sport?” - Proverbs 26v18-19

One of the terms in the new phenomena which is IMing and text messaging is the little phrase “jk”. It usually comes just after a cutting remark, a little bit of slagging, or a perceived insult. It is something that has been going on for a long time. It stands for “just kidding” and it is the same thing as when we cay something, perhaps innocently, then we say “I was only kidding” when we see that it was not taken well.

Now, we can’t say good natured ribbing is always wrong, but God does warn against it. Here He says that “I was only joking” does not always reverse the damage that was done. In fact, he likens one who does it to a “madman” who is shooting out flaming arrows.

Lets be careful about how we use – “I was only kidding.”

Sunday, 20 August 2006

Mind your own business

“He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.” - Proverbs 26v17

Two of my sons have the scars of going face to face with dogs. On each of their lips is a small scar. Both of them, at different times, were innocent victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

On the other hands, my pastor has a scar on his lip. When he was young he though it would be a good idea to staple his dogs ears together. When he grabbed the dog’s ears, the dog lashed out and bit him on the mouth. Pastor deserved what he got!

It is the second scenario that God uses to describe the foolishness of getting involved in a fight that is not ours. We need to learn to mind our own business instead of getting involved in other’s fights.
Lord, help me to mind my business and keep my nose on my own face.

Saturday, 19 August 2006

The right words

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.” - Proverbs 25v11-13

James 2 tells us all of the dangers of the tongue. It is an unruly evil, it is set on fire of hell, it is a poison, and no man can control it. We all know that the tongue can do great damage and our words can have a devastating effect.

Yet the tongue is not all bad. Fit, or proper, appropriate words can be a great blessing, of great worth, and as refreshing as an unexpected snow in the harvest. The word “fit” is the same word as a wheel. The picture seems to be of words that arrive just at the right time. We all know the situation, things are seemingly as bad as they can get and just in time someone calls by, the phone rings, we open a letter, or we get an email that has just the right words at just the right time. Those words are precious, more precious than can be described. They refresh us as much as a snowfall at harvest time when we are hot and tired.

God uses these “fitly spoken words.” May we look for opportunities to send just the right words to others at just the right time.

Friday, 18 August 2006

Gloating over victory

“Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.” - Proverbs 24v17-18

This is an interesting passage – “do not rejoice when your enemy falls.” We want to ask ourselves, “Surely we can rejoice over victories won?” God makes it clear that when His enemies are defeated it is a cause for rejoicing, It is apparent here that God is talking about proud gloating when our enemy is defeated.

There is Biblical rejoicing when God gives a victory and there is prideful gloating when we attribute a victory to ourselves. It is the latter that God is talking about. I think this scene from Shakespeare’s Henry V depicts what God is talking about here. The setting is right after the battle of Agincourt, Henry and Fluellen have just heard the results of the battle and are waking off the battlefield.

Come, go we in procession to the village.
And be it death proclaimed through our host
To boast of this or take the praise from God
Which is his only.
Is it not lawful, an please your majesty, to tell
how many is killed?
Yes, captain; but with this acknowledgement,
That God fought for us.

This is the kind of attitude I think expects in victory – not a prideful gloating, but a humble acceptance of His working.

Thursday, 17 August 2006

Falling, and falling again, and falling again …

“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” - Proverbs 24v16

A mark of true character is how one faces failure. Falling and failure are a part of the Christian life. It is going to happen, and it is going to happen more than once. In fact, sadly, it is going to be a part of living for God, we will fall and we will fail.

What do we do when we fall? What if we fall again? What if we fall again and again? The phrase “seven times” in the Bible is not limited to the actual number “seven.” It means that it happens often. When the just, or righteous man, falls he gets back up, over and over again. We cannot get discouraged or despair when we blow it – we must just get back up and go again and again and again.
Micah had it right when he said, “Though I fall, I will arise.” If you fall – get back up. If you fall again – get back up again, and so on and so on and so on.

Wednesday, 16 August 2006

The day of adversity

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” - Proverbs 24v10

The greatest test of strength does not come when things are easy. Anyone can appear strong when there are no struggles. Sometimes we can coast along with only a few problems and we think that we must be doing okay. The question comes when we face adversity. How do we do when the going gets tough? What happens when the testings come?

God tells us that if we faint in the day of adversity it is proof that our strength is small. The reason is not that the strength is not available to us, but that we have misplaced strength. The problem comes when we place our confidence in our own strength. Our strength is really nothing – we are powerless in the face of the world and the opposition we face.

There is however a source of infinite strength. If this is our strength then in the day of adversity then we will never faint. What strength is that? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
We must learn in every situation to lean only on His strength. His strength will carry us through so that we never will faint when trouble comes.

Tuesday, 15 August 2006

A good name

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” - Proverbs 22v1

Everyone has priorities in their lives. Some of them are town a nice home, to have plenty of money in our bank account, to drive a fancy car, or the go on nice holidays. There is one thing that is of vital importance, something that should always top our priority list. Solomon says here that, “A good name is rather to be chosen that great riches.” In Ecclesiastes 7v1 he writes, “A good name is better than precious ointment.”

Why is a good name so important? For one thing no matter what happens to us financially or with goods our name always stays the same. It is one thing that does not have to change. A good name is something that we can leave to our children for them to decide what they are going to do with it. It is a precious gift that we can give our children.
Even more important is what a good name can do for our testimony for Christ. As a Christian my name is a reflection of what Christ has done in my life. When people hear Roger Parrow and know that I am a Christian what is their response? Lord, help me to remember that my name is a reflection of Christ in me and live so that my life is a proper, God-honouring testimony of You.

Monday, 14 August 2006

Revenge is sweet?

“Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.” - Proverbs 20v22

“Revenge is sweet” is an old worldly saying. Chances are that more trouble is cause by revenge on all levels that anything else. On national levels retribution always escalates into a war. On a personal level revenge and recompensing of wrongs can divide families, friends, and churches. Revenge is not near as sweet as people make it out to be.

God has an entirely different response for His people – “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing,” is His instruction from 1 Peter 3v9. Jesus gave the example of turning the other cheek when attacked. Here in Proverbs the instruction is not to try and recompense evil, but to let God sort is and we are promised that He will save us.

One thing stands in the way of this kind of response – our pride will not let us just leave it. We just can’t seem to trust God to work these things out for us. We think that we need to “sort them out” when we are wrongly done by.

If we really trust God we ought to be able to let Him take care of things for us. Lets show our faith by not trying to take care of things ourselves.

Sunday, 13 August 2006

Who can find a faithful man?

“Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” - Proverbs 20v6

There is no problem finding a man who will tell you how good he is. Most men will indeed tell everyone just how good he really is. If there is one thing we don’t lack it is people telling us how wonderful they are.

Yet, there is a test. That very clear test is faithfulness. Faithfulness is a rare thing, so rare in fact that God says, “Who can find a faithful man.” Jesus said, “When I come will I find faith on the earth?” Faithfulness is one thing that God requires – “It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.
God wants us to be faithful – pure and simple. At the end of the day the mark of success will be if we can hear Jesus say, “Well done though good and faithful servant.

Saturday, 12 August 2006

Finding a “good thing”

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” - Proverbs 18v22

Obviously marriage is not always Gods plan for everyone, Paul is a prime example of that. God would have some to remain single as they serve Him. However, marriage is God’s way for most people. God said of Adam that it is not good that man should be alone.

For a man to find a wife is indeed a good thing. A good wife completes a man physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. She is the greatest asset a man can have, no wonder Peter tells us to give honour to our wives. After a few years it can become easy to take our wives for granted. This is not God’s plan. Not only is she a “good thing,” she is evidence of God’s favour on our lives.

May I never be guilty of the sin of taking my wife for granted.

Friday, 11 August 2006

Two sides to every story

“He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him.” - Proverbs 18v17

Of course Proverbs is full of little titbits of helpful advice. Every so often one of them just kind of reaches out and grabs you. That is the case today. There is no deep theological truth, or even a devotional blessing, but juts a little bit of godly advice.

The lesson is simple; there are two sides to every story. This verse makes a clear statement. The first side of the story you hear always seems to be right. We must be careful that we never fall not the trap of only hearing half the story. When we do that we are making a judgement based on only half the information.
First off, we should never be guilty of hearing gossip to start with. However if we do hear one side of the story, we need to “searcheth out” the whole truth and get the other side before we make a judgement. We could stop a lot of gossip problems if we informed the “first in his cause” that we are going to search out the matter.

Thursday, 10 August 2006

A friend loves at all time

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” - Proverbs 17v17

Family is great. In most families you always know that in times of crisis, no matter how difficult things are for the family, everyone will pull together. Indeed a brother is born for adversity. Families are always there in the tough times.

Sadly, too many families only pull together in times of crisis. On the other hand, a true friend loves at all times. There are few more precious gifts on earth than godly friends.

I think of how during our most difficult days God has always sent along friends to help us, lift us up, and encourage. I think of other times when I have needed friends to correct me and put me back on the right track. I am grateful for these situations every time they come up.

True friends love at all times, good times and bad, rough times and smooth, pretty time and ugly times.

Praise God for friends who love at all times!

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Goodness and happiness

“He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.” - Proverbs 16v20

Goodness and happiness are a couple of things that everyone would like to have. People try to achieve these in a number of ways. After a while they find out that nothing really seems to bring real goodness and happiness. The best job, the most beautiful family, the nicest house, and the fanciest car might bring satisfaction to a certain extent, but they fall short when it comes to true goodness and happiness.

Fortunately there is a way to find goodness and happiness. We find true goodness when we handle things wisely, and true wisdom comes from doing things according to the word of God. True happiness, real, true, deep down happiness comes from a full constant abiding in the Lord and trusting Him. If we could ever learn to REALLY trust Him, then we could happily rest in the knowledge that He is in control and that He knows best.
Happiness is the Lord!

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

The poor little rich man

“There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” - Proverbs 13v7

This passage is an enigma. How can a rich man be poor and how can a poor man be rich? Like many teachings in the word of God this one seems to be “upside down” or “inside out.”

Obviously there is more to this than meets the eye. There are clearly two kinds of wealth and two kinds of poverty. There is a physical wealth and a physical poverty and there is a spiritual wealth and a spiritual poverty.

It is common enough to have both physical and spiritual poverty. It happens, but it is rare that a man would have both physical and spiritual wealth. Too often men will rush off to make themselves rich physically while they ignore their spiritual needs. On the other hand there are many men who have nothing in this world, yet are rich spiritually.

This same truth is played out in Revelation. The church in Smyrna is poor in the eyes of the world, but rich in God’s eyes. The church in Laodicea thinks they are rich and need nothing, but they are “wretched, and poor, and blind, and miserable.”

What happens here? How does this some about? The problem is the same thing that we see over and over again. When we look at the things of the world, the things we can see, we focus on them and that is what we go after. While we may very well become rich in the eyes of the world we would have nothing. When we look at the things to come, the things that are not seen, we may never get rich in the eyes of the world, but we will have great wealth in God’s sight.

It is a battle, but may God always give us the wisdom to seek after the unseen things and not the things that we can see.

Monday, 7 August 2006

With pride comes shame

“When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” - Proverbs 11v2

Pride must surely be the source of all sin. Pride always has its roots in looking at self first. Men tend to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think. It is one of the most difficult battles to face, for each one of us carries it around inside us.

In this passage there is a practical application of the danger of pride. In fact, there may even be a pragmatic application. “When pride comes, shame will follow.” Jesus gives the illustration of coming into a feast. He warns us not to take the best seat, for if you do you might be sent to a lower seat.

Shame will always follow pride. Eventually pride will bring embarrassment. We are much better off to learn the lesson of the last part of the verse, “There is wisdom in being humble.” When we are humble it is like the other half of the illustration. The best thing to do is to take a lower seat at the feast so that you can be invited up to a better seat.
It is wonderful that God not only instructs us, but He makes His truth practical and appealing to us. Let’s never be guilty of taking the best seat so that we are not embarrassed. Indeed, when pride comes it will be followed by shame.

Saturday, 5 August 2006

The things God hates

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” - Proverbs 6v16-19

Of course we know that God hates all sin. It never pleases Him and sin is so horrendous that God cannot even bear to look at it. However, here in Proverbs chapter 6 we find a list of seven things that God specifically hates. I can’t work out all of the hermateological implications of how God hates some sins more than others, but here we have a lost of sins which somehow made this list of sins he specifically hates.

A proud look
A lying tongue
Those who shed innocent blood
Those that rush to do evil
A false witness that speaks lies
He that sows discord among the brethren

It is interesting to note that five of these deal with attitudes instead of actions and that two of them deal with lying. This should let us know the importance that god places on the heart and on the tongue. We tend to think of the more visible sins as being the bad ones,” but here it is clear that God places a great emphasis on the less obvious sins.

Friday, 4 August 2006

Be ravished with the wife of your youth

“Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” - Proverbs 5v18-19

Proverbs is a very practical book. Sometimes its practicality can be very pointed. Proverbs 5 is written to warn men about the dangers of adultery. When you read the whole chapter you see a very picturesque description of sex outside and sex inside a marriage.

Suffice it to say that there are a couple of key phrases here that would solve all of the Christian immorality problems if taken and applied. “Rejoice with the wife of your youth…be thou ravished with her love.” These words are so clear and so precise. They need no exposition. You want to stop any problems with immorality in the home? Rejoice in the wife of your youth and be ravished with her love!

Thursday, 3 August 2006

Keeping your heart

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” - Proverbs 4v23

“Keep” is a wonderful English word. It is packed with diversity and loaded with variety. It can be used in a number of ways to illustrate the truth of Proverbs 4v23. We can think of the keep of a castle where family and treasures are secure. We can think of a shepherd keeping watch over his flock, and numerous other ideas of “keeping.”

I think a great picture here is of a gardener keeping his garden. We don’t garden much, but this year we planted a herb garden. It has been fun to watch the basil, oregano, parsley, chives, and other herbs flourish. These are the things that a herb garden is supposed to bear.

Keeping a garden is work. Weeds must be pulled up and various little invaders must be dealt with. If you don’t do this things the garden will be destroyed and bear no fruit.

Here God reminds us to keep our hearts with all diligence. The reason is clear – the heart is the center and source of all our lives. If we don’t keep our hearts our lives will quickly show it. We will stop bearing fruit and will instead be a breeding ground for weeds and pests. We must constantly deal with the “weeds and pests” that show up in our hearts if we don’t want them to bear their fruit.

How do we keep our hearts with all diligence? We must careful heed to what thoughts and ideas come into our minds. Lusts of the flesh will grow into sins of the flesh. Envy will grow into jealousy that will grow into anger and bitterness. Selfishness will grow into covetousness, which is idolatry.

May God remind us of the importance of diligently keeping our hearts.

Wednesday, 2 August 2006

He shall direct your paths

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” - Proverbs 3v5-6

What do we do when we get to point where we really don’t know what to do next? I am sure that we have all had times in our lives when we have said, at least in our own hearts, “I don’t know what to do next!” In many cases, in fact in most cases, the word of God will give us all the direction we need.. We simply read His word and obey.

Other times we obey Bible teachings and principle and we still don’t know what to do in a particular situation. God’s word does not always give us specific instructions for day to day living. How do I know what job to take? How do I know where to live? When it comes to this kind of situation God does not leave us helpless.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Don’t depend on your own understanding
In all your ways acknowledge Him
He will direct your paths
In those when the Scripture does not give specific instructions we can still apply God’s principles. If we are truly trusting Him in everything, let His word rule, and acknowledging Him, He will directs our very steps.

Tuesday, 1 August 2006

Seeking after wisdom

“So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” - Proverbs 2v2-5

One of the greatest plagues of Christianity is laziness. We tend to think that somehow we are just going to pick up wisdom my osmosis or something similar. On the other hand God instructs people to “get wisdom.” Getting involves some effort on our part.

These verses in Proverbs 2 describe how we are to go after wisdom.

Incline your ear
Cry after it
Seek it like silver
Search for it like a treasure

In each of these there is an intense, earnest effort involved. God wants us to have His wisdom, but He is not going to force it on us. It is there for the finding and it is more precious that silver or a hidden treasure.

You want wisdom – its there, go after it!