Wednesday, 31 May 2017

What God does is done

I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him. That which is has already been, And what is to be has already been; And God requires an account of what is past. - Ecclesiastes 3:14-15

Man thinks he is pretty important. He always has. He tried to build a huge monument to make a name for himself at Babel and he still tries to make those monuments.

The sad thing is that the works of men eventually end. The monuments eventually fall. All that man does is temporal.

But when God does it it is done. What God does lasts forever. Man can’t add to or take away from the work of God. Everything we see today has been seen and everything coming has been seen. There is indeed nothing new under the sun. Because God’s work lasts forever men ought to stand in awe of His power.

This is why we read ‘don’t look at the visible things of this world, but the invisible. The visible things are temporary but the invisible forever’ and ‘set your affection on things above, not on things below.’

We have to live in this world. But it is important that we emphasise the eternal – for those things are going to last forever.

What God does is done – what man does will eventually fail. 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Eternity in mind

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.  - Ecclesiastes 3:11

God has indeed made everything beautiful in His time. I could spend a lot of time there, but my attention is drawn to the next phrase ‘He has put eternity in their hearts.’

Man is eternal. From the beginning of recorded history man, even apart from the word of God, has always known that there is more to life than the womb to the tomb. Man has worshipped everything because he knows this is not all there is to life. Many archaeological discovers have something to do with some form of worship and burial sites always seem to be designed with an afterlife in mind. It is so much a part of humanity that even in the Mortal Coil episode of Star Trek Voyager Neelix is crushed by the fact that when he died there was nothing and he suffers a crisis of faith. That theme is a constant trope. It is a constant theme of discussion. People say things 'I just can't get my mind around death being the end.' 

I think that is because God has put eternity in the minds of mankind. There is an eternal mindedness that man must choose to reject, and man has seemingly done a good job of it of late. Most folks seem to have closed the door on the eternity in their minds. God’s ‘eternity in mind’ has been the subject of religion and philosophy since the beginning of human history.

But there is an answer to ‘shuffling off this mortal coil.’ God has put eternity in our minds, but he has provided the answer for eternity. Life goes on, and we need to be concerned about that truth because God has a plan for each of us to spend that eternity with Him.

With eternity in mind or focus should be the eternity in our minds. This earthly part of our lives is swiftly passing away – but eternity will be forever. We have friends and family and co-workers who we need to see the light of eternity. Where will they spend it? We have the hope to fill eternity.

But where is our focus? 

Monday, 29 May 2017

There is a season

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace. - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Life just goes on. Times come and go. There is springtime and harvest and sorrow and laughing and life and death and gain and loss and love and hate and peace and war and the cycle just goes on and on and on for generation after generation.

And that is how God designed it. To Solomon the whole thing became tedious and empty. He saw all of these times come and go and through them all life was still ‘vanity and vexation of spirit.’

I have spent a few years here now and I can almost understand what he is saying. For some of us life is, with some exceptions, life is just a cycle of the things.

The sad thing is that with a time for this and a time for that and a time for other things Solomon found his life empty because he never made a time for God. Without that God time, actually without God being in all those times, life is always going to be empty.

In all of our times we need to make sure that there a time for God. 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

My way

Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labour in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. Then I turned myself to consider wisdom and madness and folly; For what can the man do who succeeds the king?— Only what he has already done.  - Ecclesiastes 2:10-12

Solomon, like Old Blues Eyes’ song put it, did it his way. He had everything he wanted. He did want he wanted to do; he had regrets, but only a few. But most important of all when he searched all the highways and byways – he did it his way.

It may a little of a stretch to say that Solomon and Frank did exactly the same, but Solomon did things his way. We bought what he wanted. He did not deny himself any pleasure. He did his work and made good money. But, when he saw it all he asked ‘what more can a man do. This is all emptiness, it is vanity and grasping at the wind.

We can look back over the years at all of the ‘rich and famous’ who did it their way and at the end of the day found nothings. Life was so empty that many tragically have taken their own lives.

Even in the song you can sense that no matter what else happened he got to do it his way. Imagine a life lived where all that you can say at the end is ‘I did it all my way’ because there is a way that seem right to man, but the end is the way of death.

My way might be okay if this life was all that there was - but it really is vanity because it is only going to last for a few years. God’s way lasts forever and has eternal impact. 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Vanity of vanities

"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." What profit has a man from all his labour In which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever. The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, And hastens to the place where it arose.  - Ecclesiastes 1:2-5

Why are we here? What does it matter? Is there any meaning to this life? Why bother?

These are the kinds of philosophical questions that are and always have been a part of human existence.

Solomon, the great and powerful and rich, had everything he could possibly want from the world. He had wealth and women and fast horses and silver and gold and jewels and honour and prestige. Whatever he wanted he had.

But, in spite of all that, he still found his life empty. Everything he had was like trying to put the wind in your pocket – empty.

At the end of the day this world doesn’t have a whole lot to offer in the way of eternal peace and security. Everything is fragile and it can all fall apart at any moment. It will always be that way until we realise that our only real meaning in this comes from having a view of eternity. 

Friday, 26 May 2017

A voice for the voiceless

Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.
 - Proverbs 31:8-9

God’s people have always been the ones who are supposed care for, stand up for, and speak up for those who don’t have any voice.

I am still learning these things. For a good part of my Christian life I was a part of churches who rarely if ever said anything about the less fortunate. In order to not be accused of preaching the ‘social gospel’ we did nothing about the needs of the needy and never spoke out for those who had no voice. We left that to the ‘liberals.’

Even today we don’t hear the church speaking up for those who have no voice.  We do it for the unborn and that is a great cause. But how about the poor and homeless and those forced to flee terror and are looking for refuge? Where are our voices calling out for them?

We can be an awful selfish bunch. We cry out when things don’t go our way or when we think our ‘rights’ might be infringed. We praise the politicians who help us and condemn programmes that help the voiceless. We turn a blind eye to the millions around the world who suffer oppression.

How many of us are standing and pleading the cause of the poor and needy? Who is going to speak up for them?

It is God’s people who are called to do it. We can’t depend on anyone else. Of course we should be giving and helping the poor and needy ourselves, but we also ought to plead for them for whatever help we can get for them. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Don't provoke

For as the churning of milk produces butter, And wringing the nose produces blood, So the forcing of wrath produces strife.
 - Proverbs 30:33

Churning milk turns it into butter. Wringing a nose will give a bloody nose. In the same way provoking wrath produces conflict.

Provoking someone to anger is something we get used to very young. You watch any bunch of children and you will see some provokers and some responders. Kids like it when they get someone angry because the responder is the one who gets in trouble – and that is kind of fun.

The problem is that sometimes we don’t grow out of it. Sometimes we can be 30, 40, 50, 60 years old and still like to provoke someone else. Some of us LOVE to push buttons and see what kind of response we can get. I can be that way myself and I think that is why this passage stuck out to me.

There may be some good innocent fun in that, but we need to be careful. It is easy for this kind of thing to get out of control and for fights or even hard feelings to result. Our relationships can be damaged and possibly even destroyed.

While provoking may give us some kind of childish joy – it can, even in its supposed ‘innocence’ divide and destroy.

Let’s just be careful about  this kind of thing and not let ‘a little innocent fun’ get out of hand. We don’t outgrow the ability to do that. 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Hasty words

Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. - Proverbs 29:20

There could not be a more timely verse for me than this. Just a few days ago I saw the reality of this great truth.

While talking to a Christian young man whom I respect and admire I allowed hasty words to escape from my mouth which hurt him deeply. They were foolish words without merit that could have damaged our relationship. I said things that I had no basis for saying. I questioned his character with my hasty words. When he made me aware of what I had done I apologised and he graciously forgave me.

But the damage was done. Hasty words cannot be undone or recalled or unsaid. They can be laid aside and forgiven and used to build on, but there are out there forever.

Words and speech come up a lot in God’s word. Our tongues are unruly and impossible to tame. They can set a fire from hell itself.

Hasty words always do great damage. James put it this way, ‘be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.’

Too often I speak before I think or before I finish hearing. It always, always causes me trouble.

Lord, keep me from hasty words. 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Go with your heart?

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But whoever walks wisely will be delivered. - Proverbs 28:26

‘Follow your heart’ is common piece of advice that sounds pretty good. It has a romantic appeal to it. It makes sense in a way because we think that we are surely capable of knowing what is best for us.

The problem is that our hearts are a problem. They need kept ‘with all keeping.’ Out of the heart flow everything else that we do, and our natural heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Our heart needs the Holy Spirit’s control and we need to yield to His control and get out of the way. When we act on emotions most of the time we are going to get it terribly wrong.

We must guard our hearts because what is in our hearts will eventually be reflected in our words and actions. He who trusts his heart is just plain foolish and will suffer the consequences of his foolishness. He who walks in wisdom will be delivered. 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Don't count on tomorrow

Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth. - Proverbs 27:1

Don’t boast about tomorrow for you never know what a day might bring.
Take no thought of tomorrow, today has enough issues of its own.

There are plenty of warnings about being too focused on tomorrow. Those of us who have lived any time at all know the perils of pinning to many hopes or casting too many fears about tomorrow. Most have had too many days come along that shake everything up and sometimes change our lives forever. We get a phone call or a text or an email or a letter in the post and the day becomes nothing like the one we woke up to.

We can’t count on tomorrow – we can’t despair of it either. We don’t know what it will present to us. Who knows where will be when the sun sets tomorrow? We ought to pray and plan and prepare – but don’t count on the day going on you want it to go. The Lord may have other plans for you. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

A dog and his vomit

As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly.  - Proverbs 26:11

This is kind of gross – but it sure gets the point across.

Most of my life I was NOT a dog person and this is one of the reasons why. Dogs are, as much as I love Jasper, pretty gross. The stuff he stops to eat on his walk are appalling.

One of the things dogs eat is vomit. They eat human vomit, dog vomit, and even their own vomit.

That’s pretty gross.

But what an apt picture of what it is like for a fool to go back to his folly. How bad must it be when you or I keep returning to our same sin?

It is just crazy. It’s gross, if this picture is true indication of how serious it is. God loves us, but He wants us to learn our lesson and move on from our sin. He doesn’t want us trapped by the same old sick sin cycle.

Surely, this image is so clear any of us can get. Lay that besetting sin aside. Depart from evil.

Leave the vomit alone. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Feed your enemy

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the LORD will reward you  - Pro 25:21

This must sound like the craziest thing in the world. Feed you enemy? That’s mad – who would feed the people trying to hurt them?


Nope, sorry – that’s not how it is for God’s people. God tells us ‘love your enemies’ and here He makes it even clearer with ‘feed your enemies.’

While this may run totally contrary to our way of thinking, feeding our enemy is the best way to beat them, because in doing so we put them to shame because they cannot answer love and one of the best ways to show love is by practically meeting their needs.

And not only that, but God will reward you.

The early Christians in Rome played this our just right. One of the chief complaints on one of the Roman emperors, Justinian I think it was, was that ‘these Galileans have the audacity to feed, not just their own, but our people.’

There is no answer for love in action. Love in action is the best way to defeat our enemy in the long run.

Don’t hate your enemy. Don’t gloat over your enemies losses. Don’t mock your enemy. Don’t fear your enemy. Love him and feed him and trust in the Lord’s reward.

Friday, 19 May 2017

And rise again

For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity. Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, And He turn away His wrath from him. - Proverbs 24:16-18

There is a constant theme of scripture about the importance of persistence and stick-to-it-iveness and dedication and keeping on. That theme is there because we all do falter and stumble and fall.

But the righteous man keeps getting up, time after time after time after time after time. He is not going to be knocked down for good. Micah talks about that when he said that even if he falls seven times he will arise, pray, wait on the Lord, and God would hear him.

We read in the Bible about not being weary in doing well. We read about being steadfast and unmovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord. We read about not losing heart.

This happens all this time, but this week I saw a story about how one of the triathlete in a major race crashed his bike during the cycling segment. It was obvious he could not win, but instead of giving up he picked himself up and carried his bike to the changeover point and then finished the run segment.

That’s the kind of spirit we are talking about here. It’s the kind of spirit Paul writes about when he wrote ‘we are knocked down, but we are not knocked out.' 

So when the next blow comes, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep on moving. We will get there some day and ‘what a day that will be.’ 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Who has woe?

Who has woe?
Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions?
Who has complaints?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
Those who linger long at the wine,
Those who go in search of mixed wine.
Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it swirls around smoothly;
At the last it bites like a serpent,
And stings like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange things,
And your heart will utter perverse things.
Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying:
“They have struck me, but I was not hurt;
They have beaten me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” – Proverbs 23.29-35

Before I start I want to put in a bit of a disclaimer. The thoughts that follow are not aimed at my brothers who take an occasional glass of wine. Most people know that I am teetotaller, but my purpose here is not to persuade anyone to my point of view because it is my point of view.

But I do think we need to be aware of the danger of drink. This section of Proverbs 23 warns of the practical dangers of too much drink. Drunkenness is fraught with dangers. If we are going to choose to use alcohol we need to be careful that we don’t abuse it.

I don’t need to retype all of those warnings and admonitions and dangers. Drunkenness causes woes and sorrows and fights and complaints and physical injuries. It causes hallucinations and saying things you would never say. It cause things to happen that you can’t understand – and it makes one live for drink.

I understand this passage when I read it. When I was young I was misusing alcohol to the point where much of what I read about here was going on with me. I saw all these things and I had to make a choice.

I’ll leave the arguments for or against an occasional social drink to someone else – but we need to be aware of the many dangers of abusing it. Of that there can be no doubt.

As a believer I need to be more careful of my behaviour than usual.

So I choose not to drink – at all. I can be pretty sure that way that I am not going to get drunk and suffer the ravages talked about here.

Others may choose their own options – and I can choose mine. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Lord God made them all

The rich and the poor have this in common, The LORD is the maker of them all. - Proverbs 22:2

Man seems to be always able to find a way to divide from other men. We divide over race and nationality and creed and religion and economic status and politics and opinions.

I hate to say it but divisions are the norm. It all started with Cain and Abel and it just got worse from there.

But that is all because we are broken by sin. God made us all – rich and poor and black and white and Irish and English and Republican and Democrat and big and small and male and female and any other this and that you can come up with.

That being true, how can we look down on others. We are you we are because we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully’ made. Sure, some have more and others have less and some are different abilities than others and some are honoured by man and others are not.

But we are all facing the grave one day. We are all going to end up the same. 

And we are all precious in His sight.

Therefore God’s salvation is open to all and God wants all men to be saved. 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But deliverance is of the LORD.  - Proverbs 21:31

People seek deliverance in all kinds of things. The folks in this passage put their hope for deliverance in military force. A whole lot of people through the years and put their faith in the military forces for deliverance, and eventually the army is going to let you down.

A bunch of folks, I mean a BUNCH of folks these days are trusting political leaders and political parties for deliverance. If we could only elect enough of the right politicians at the right time everything would be okay. If we can elect the ‘right’ leader, no matter his or her lack of moral fibre or character or principle, everything is going to be alright.

 Some trust in money or jobs or possessions or reputation of whatever to bring about deliverance.

But there is only one source of real deliverance – deliverance is of the Lord. There is nothing else and no one else we can really, truly depend to deliver us from whatever we face. He promises us that He will provide. He promises us that He will care. He promises that He will meet our needs. He promises strength for the fight. He promises that He will deliver.

Hope for deliverance from any other source is false hope – only our God can deliver every time. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Any fool can start a fight

It is honourable for a man to stop striving, Since any fool can start a quarrel. - Proverbs 20:3

Some of these Proverbs are just so practical. This is one of them.

‘It is honourable to stop fight, because any fools can start a fight.’

Our world needs a good dose of that. We live in a world that seems always ready to pick a fight over anything and even the church to be looking for a fight. Some people think that ‘earnestly contend for the faith’ mean the same thing as ‘look for something to pick a fight over.’

Clearly, some times we have to stand our ground for the sake of the gospel. We must stand against sin and false teaching. But we need to careful that we are not just out there to look for a fight.

Jesus said ‘blessed are the peacemakers.’ It is pretty clear that God’s people are intended to be a peaceful folk.

This isn’t just on the big things. This applies to every day relationship with each other. It refers to a brawling spirit.

Being a brawler is one of the things that will disqualify a man from being a pastor. It is, like we said above, the kind of guys who is always looking for or always ready for a fight.

God says there is honour in ending a fight.

Christians are not to be the fighters and brawlers. God blesses the peacemakers. As much as we can we are to be at peace with all men.

After all, any fool can start a fight. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Pity on the poor

He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given. – Proverbs 19.17

God has always cared for the poor and He has always wanted His people to care for the poor. Way back in the Law the Jews were commanded to care for the poor and the needy and to not let them suffer. There is a constant theme through the word of God about providing for the poor. If there was any doubt Jesus made it clear and then then the rest of the New Testament confirmed this truth. We could look at scores of passages that talk about meeting the needs of the poor, but let’s just look at this one verse.

He who has pity lends to the Lord, and He will pay back whatever has been given.

I love this concept. God uses His people to take care of the poor. When we provide for the poor we do so for God. We don’t have to worry about it because of the rest of the verse - if we take care of the poor God is going to reimburse us.

It is all so simple when we look at it that way. God wants to use us to take care of the poor and then He will pay us back when we do – and we don’t even need to turn in a receipt.

I hope we can all see how important caring for the poor is – and that it is not something we really have an excuse for not doing. We do the work for God – and let him reimburse us! 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

He who finds a wife

He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favour from the LORD.  - Proverbs 18:22

It’s been nearly 40 years now since I first became aware of this verse. It was probably in my daily Bible reading, but it was some time in 1978 right after Mary and I got married. I bought Mary a Schofield Bible for either her birthday or Christmas and I wrote this reference on the presentation page.

I believed it, as much as I could at that time – but I didn’t really have a clue. We are coming up on 40 years of marriage and the truth of finding a ‘good thing’ becomes clearer and clearer as the years go by. At the beginning the honeymoon aspects of marriage fade away. You begin realise that your spouse is not perfect, and it is a good thing because neither are you. Then, as the years go by, the full impact of God's goodness and favour become more and more clear. Good times and hard times come and go. Joy and sorrow come and go. Happiness and sadness come and go - but God's goodness and favour continue.

After all these years the last part of the verse makes even more sense than it did then. The ‘favour of the Lord’ is exactly what she has brought, is bringing, and will bring into my life.

I can’t even begin to imagine the last forty years without her. It is wonderful that such a ‘good thing’ just keeps getting gooder and gooder and gooder as the years go by.

When I found my wife God gave me not only a good thing, but the best thing and His favour was truly shown to me. 

Friday, 12 May 2017

Glad at calamity

He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.  - Proverbs 17:5

I am seeing something that concerns me. I hope it is only Facebook and online communications that I am seeing, but it seems to go much deeper. I see news and videos and images of a new spirit, even among God’s people.

I don’t know exactly how to explain it. It is ‘gotcha’ or a ‘boom’ or a rejoicing and gladness and even sheer seeming joy when someone suffers a hardship or a difficulty or a problem.

Proverbs 24.17 also reminds us ‘don’t rejoice, or gloat when your enemy falls.’ When our enemy falls all we can do is to thank God for our victory. It is never a cause for gloating or boasting.

This scene from Henry V after the battle of Agincourt says it well. Henry had just been informed of the marvellous victory over the French and the minuscule English losses.

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.
Yes, my conscience, he did us great good.
Do we all holy rites;
Let there be sung 'Non nobis' and 'Te Deum;'
The dead with charity enclosed in clay:
And then to Calais; and to England then:
Where ne'er from France arrived more happy men.

Henry knew the danger of rejoicing over a fallen foe. It is a trait we have lost today in so many ways. There is no place in our lives for ‘take that’ or an ‘in your face’ attitude.

This worries me. It worries because the world is starting to see no difference between us and them. The world sees Christians rejoicing when those they don’t like fail. This is a shame and God hates it.

It is time for the church to stop rejoicing when calamity strikes others. 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

He who heeds the word

He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he. – Proverbs 16.20

This one really made me think – and that is always a good thing. He who heeds the word of God will find good. Whoever trusts in the Lord is happy.

I think about how many of my problems happen because I am not heeding the Lord. I far too often heed my own fears and my anxieties. I pay attention to all the bad news going on around me. I heed my circumstances and my situation instead of my Saviour.

How foolish can I possibly be? I know the word of God. I know it is true. I trust it. I claim I don’t doubt it.

But I still pay heed to those doubts and fears and anxieties that pop up at 2.48 or 3.23 or 4.12 in the morning. They grab my attention and I end up being miserable because of them.

God though has the answer – simply take heed to God’s word wisely. When all those other things reach out for my attention I can let them have it, or I can instead turn my attention to the word of God and His promises.

He will not fail me. He knows my needs. He will never leave me or forsake me. When I trust him I find the peace and happiness that eludes me when I am heeding everything else.

Lord, remind me to heed you and your word then everything else is clamouring for my attention. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Before honour

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honour is humility.  - Proverbs 15:33

I would suspect, at least to some extent, that that all of us like honour more than humility. Honour feels good. It is nice be recognised and acknowledged. It’s nice to get a little trophy or a pin or a medal.

The problem is that we all want honour and not humility.

True honour must begin with true humility. The word of God tells us that if we want to be lifted up in God’s eyes we must be humbled and the surest way to humiliation is to exalt ourselves.

I like the story Jesus tells about pursuing humility. He speaks of going to dinner and never seeking the place of the guest of honour, but instead to seek the lowest place. That way you can be called up if needed instead of being sent down for sitting in the wrong place.

We pursue humility. We don’t seek honour and praise and privilege. We leave all that up to God. 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Slow to wrath

He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly. - Proverbs 14:29

We live in angry days. Everyone seems to be angry at every and anyone else. Anger Seems to be the solution to any problem. I am glad Facebook is not real, or I would be worried about the number of Christians who are angry at everyone.

Everyone seems to be angry with everyone about everything.

Sadly, that anger is being seen in action more and more. It seems like the whole world has a bad case of road rage. One word, one action, one look – and there is an explosion of anger.

For believers, my brethren, ‘these things ought not so to be.’

He who is slow to wrath has great understanding.

On the other hand –

He who is impulsive exalts folly.

Have you have seen how foolish someone looks when they are angry? Have you ever considered how you might look when you get angry? Of course the idea here is wrathful anger. Anger in itself is not sin – it is what we do with anger that matters. If we let our anger become wrath then we sin.

We must be careful that we don’t let this angry world make us angry people. We can’t even afford to respond to anger with anger.

Stop, take a breath, count to ten, and most importance of all pray for help. Don’t let the cancer of anger spread. 

Monday, 8 May 2017

Slippery words

He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction. - Proverbs 13:3

My mouth gets me into trouble far too often. It may not be as bad as it used to be, but every so often some slippery word pops out of my mouth.

I still love the old US comedy The Andy Griffith Show. Most folks know Andy Griffith as Matlock, but this was long before Matlock. In an early episode Andy’s girlfriend is talking about running to town council. Now, that was unheard of in the early 60s, especially in the Deep South.

While out for a picnic Andy and Ellie are talking about the idea. Andy mentions that it couldn’t be true because that is just a silly idea. Ellie gets in a huff and storms off. As Andy is following he apologises and says that ‘silly’ is just one of those slippery words – but then he says it again.

My problem is that I have to fight those slippery words all the time. Things pop out of my mouth and then I regret saying them. But once they are out, no matter how much I apologise, I can’t take them back and they can’t be forgotten.

I need help with those slippery words – so I must ‘set a guard’ on my lips. James reminds us how difficult it is. He even says that ‘no man can control it.’ I must set that guard to stop those slippery words, but I must have the help of the Holy Spirit. That means that I must be sensitive to His leadership and willing to shut my mouth when He guides my words.

Lord, help me to keep hold on those slippery words. In the show at one point Andy actually puts his hand over his mouth. If that’s what it takes, help me Lord ot put my hand over my mouth. 

Sunday, 7 May 2017


Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.  - Proverbs 12:25

I have to say I have never noticed this passage before, but oh how profound it is. It says so much in so few words.

Anxiety in the heart of a man causes depression. Doesn’t that speak volumes? One of the great causes of depression is anxiety, or being full of cares, or worry. When I think about my dark days nearly every time they are caused by some kind of worry over some kind of uncertainty in the future.

I am one of those who has a battle with anxiety. I always have. It is an awful sin to deal with because if I am anxious about the future what it really means that I am not trusting God. It means that I am not believing the God who promises to take care of me. I could even be so blunt as to say that I am calling God a liar.

I need not be here. The word of God tells me that worry does nothing for me. It is not going to change anything. He tells me not to be full of cares. He tells me that instead of being care-ful about anything, but to take it all to God with a thankful heart and that God would give me His peace that passes understanding.

And that is the opposite of depression. Peace and depression are incompatible. If I trust God, and don’t just talk about, I won’t be anxious about the great unknown. And If I am not anxious, that will take care of a great deal of my depression.

That is the good news we need to make our hearts glad. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Multitude of counsellors

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.  – Proverbs 11.14

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? What do you do when there don’t seem to be any answers and you’ve prayed and studied and still you don’t know what to do?

We are blessed of course that we can always go to the Lord, and we should always, always go to Him. We ought to read His word and pray and do whatever we can to discern His way.

But there are still times when we don’t know what to do.

That is why we are told that ‘where there is no counsel we fail and in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

We are blessed in the fact that God doesn’t leave us all alone without any human help. He gives us each other to go to for prayer and advice and a listening ear and sometimes just a shoulder to cry on.

 We don’t have to face difficult situations alone. First and foremost we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, we have His word, and lets never forget the importance of getting counsel and advice from each other. 

Friday, 5 May 2017

Love covers all sins

Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all sins. – Proverbs 10.12

If there were ever a verse that our world needs it is this:

Hatred causes trouble
Love overcomes sins

There can be no doubt that our hate filled world is getting more and more hate filled. Anger is everywhere. The solution to everything seems to be more hatred and anger and strife.

And so the vicious hatred cycle continues and only trouble abounds. Christians have been caught up in a world that says it is okay to be ugly and angry and hate-filled and mean-spirited. We have adopted the methods of the world and brag about. I certainly hope that Facebook and Twitter are not what is really going on in Christian’s hearts.

Hatred stirs up trouble.

But love covers all sins. That of course doesn’t mean that love simply covers up sin. It means that loves overcomes sins. Love breaks the cycle of hatred and anger. Love is our ultimate weapon. When we resort to hatred and anger and strife we ignore our greatest tool in fighting the enemy. Our battle cry is love.

‘Love your enemies’ Jesus said. ‘Do good to those who hate you. Bless them in response to their curses against you.’

Paul tells exactly what our response the world’s hatred must be in 1 Corinthians 14 – pursue love. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Forsake foolishness

Forsake foolishness and live, And go in the way of understanding.  - Pro 9:6

On the other side of pursuing wisdom we are also told to forsake foolishness and go in the way of understanding.

Foolishness is all around us. It is normally defined with something like ‘a lack of good sense or judgement.’ According to Wikipedia ‘Andreas Maercker in 1995 defined Foolishness as rigid, dogmatic and inflexible thinking which makes feelings of bitterness and probable annoyance.’

And still, despite all the warnings and dangers foolishness is all about us in a world that seems like it has totally lost its way. How often we seen a lack of good sense in government or the media or on social media or even in our churches? Good sense seems to be forgotten in world of craziness.

The problem is that foolishness has so much become the norm that it is easy to get caught up in it. Everyone else is chasing after foolishness so we do as well so that we don’t miss something.

But foolishness always brings trouble. It can’t go right. It can only go wrong. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that our wisdom is foolishness to the world and that their wisdom is foolishness to us. It is up to us to discern true wisdom from the world’s wisdom.

Even with all the foolishness going on around us we need to seek God’s wisdom and forsake the foolishness of the world.

Pursue wisdom, and forsake foolishness. 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Wisdom personified

I have been established from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was ever an earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills, I was brought forth; While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, Or the primal dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, When He drew a circle on the face of the deep, - Proverbs 8.23-27

I just had to use this because I love the picture of wisdom as a person. This is such beautiful poetry that makes wisdom sound wonderful – which it is.

Wisdom has been around since before the beginning, since before God said ‘Let there be light.’ She was there before God laid out the oceans and mountains. He was there when it was just God and the great void. He was already there ‘in the beginning’ when ‘the earth was without form and void and darkness was over all’ and the Spirit of God hovered.

After reading the allure of sin in Proverbs 7 and then the draw of wisdom here one feels cheap and tawdry and the other has beauty and innocence and a draw that makes the other pale in comparison.

Remember who wisdom is. It has been with God since before the beginning and it is still there, unchanged, for us to pursue. 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The way of death

Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth: Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths; For she has cast down many wounded, And all who were slain by her were strong men. Her house is the way to hell, Descending to the chambers of death. - Proverbs 7:24-27

To really get the impact of this passage we need to go back a few verses. This is like an exposition on ‘if sinners entice you don’t consent.’ We see here an immoral woman personifying all kinds of temptation. Listen to her words:

So I came out to meet you, Diligently to seek your face,
And I have found you.
I have spread my bed with tapestry, Coloured coverings of Egyptian linen.
I have perfumed my bed With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
Come, let us take our fill of love until morning;
Let us delight ourselves with love.
For my husband is not at home; He has gone on a long journey; He has taken a bag of money with him, And will come home on the appointed day."
With her enticing speech she caused him to yield,
With her flattering lips she seduced him.

When you read this you can almost feel the allure of the woman’s offer. It makes sin sound like the most exciting and amazing thing you could imagine How could anyone resist that draw?

That’s the terrible thing about sin – it never sounds bad. It is not ugly and disgusting and scary. I once saw a puppet show for kids where Mr Sin was thus scary demon like creature who terrified the kids. It would be nice if sin looked that way, but sin masks itself in such a way that it draws us to it.

So beware. Sin looks tempting. It has an allure.

Stay away from it. Don’t go near it. Don’t be drawn in.

Or, as Solomon puts it:

Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth: Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths; For she has cast down many wounded, And all who were slain by her were strong men. Her house is the way to hell, Descending to the chambers of death.