Each Wednesday night at our church I conduct what we call “Proverbs, Prayer, and Praise.” It is a unique study through Proverbs, one chapter a week.
One of the things I encourage our congregation to do is take the places where Wisdom is personified and replace the word and associated pronouns with the name of Jesus (See Col. 2:1-3 and 1 Cor. 1: 24 & 30).
This week we are working through chapter 4, so I thought I would share this example with you. When you remember that Jesus said all Scripture spoke of Him, it’s not a stretch, but a blessing!
Get JESUS! Get understanding [OF HIM]! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake HIM, and HE will preserve you; Love HIM, and HE will keep you. JESUS [is] the principal thing; [Therefore] get JESUS. And in all your getting, get understanding [OF HIM]. Exalt HIM, and HE will promote you; HE will bring you honor, when you embrace HIM. HE will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory HE will deliver to you.” – Proverbs 4:5-9 NKJV [edited]
If you would like additional information on this study, feel free to contact me.
This blog was never intended to become a ministerial diary, of sorts, but reality is what reality is, not what we want or perceive it to be.
Therefore, I will continue to share my observations as we press forward in this new (to us) work in Georgia.
Getting strait to the point, there is a spiritual war going on, and you and I are involved in the conflict. It doesn’t matter where you and I are; the war is on-going and world-wide. We will never escape it until it’s over.
Unfortunately, too many think that life, with all its problems, is rarely affected by the spiritual conflict that rages all around us, even within us. Yet, the reality is that nearly everything we experience in this life is tactically connected to innumerable, web-like strategies meant to bring either victory of defeat. And depending on which side you are on – and that is debatable – victory may mean either bondage and destruction, or hope and deliverance.
There are no coincidences, and no small decision is devoid of long-reaching consequences. This is reality, and that’s a check you can cash.
The Influence Factor
To be fair, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what responsibility you’ve been given: you’ll never know the full extent of how your life and your decisions will affect others. However, what is equally true is that the more influence a person has, the more of a “high-value” target he or she becomes. And because we are in a spiritual war, this is especially true for those in ministry.
Just since the last post I wrote, the one about “Food and Fur,” I have been reminded that the more influence one has, the more the enemy will attack. I have been reminded that the enemy will wait until we are comfortable, then strike where we are least expecting it, and usually with weapons and tactics for which we have little defense. Or, rather, the defense we do have is more than adequate, but the enemy knows we have not done much training on how to use it. Either way, the attack is meant to knock us back and reconsider our ability to continue the fight.
This is why it should never be an aspiration for a minister to obtain a “larger church” or anything like that, for unless it’s in God’s timing, and unless the minister and his family are equipped, because of the “influence factor,” they – and I do say “they” – may not be able to handle it. The more influence over the lives of others, the more the Enemy will desire your destruction.
The “Fear” Factor
You do remember the TV show Fear Factor, don’t you? Do you remember how that it was perfectly possible for every contestant to complete the required challenges, if only they could conquer their own fears? They all had the strength, the coordination, and the skill, but it was so often the fear that immobilized the contestant who failed. So often in this spiritual warfare what we find is that we’ve been given all we need by the Holy Spirit to be victorious, but fear – fear of failure, fear of exposure, fear of sacrifice, fear of inadequacy, fear of the Enemy – saps our strength, makes us weak in the knees, causes us to run, or convinces us to surrender.
This week (even yesterday) my family was threatened. The threat is hard to assess, but it is being taken seriously, so much so that police departments in two states are now involved. Yet, should we live in fear? Should we be intimidated?
Or, should we refuse to cower and hide, put feet on our faith, and trust our God to deliver?
In the Messianic Psalm 91, David wrote of how he would handle threats. He wrote:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust’” (Psa. 91:1-2).
Later in verse five he writes: “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day.”
Then King Solomon, David’s son, echoes these very words when he describes the kind of peace one can enjoy when he puts his faith in the true God and trusts His word:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths…When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught” (Proverbs 3:5-6, 24-26).
Believe me, I am concerned. I am concerned for the safety of my daughters, my family in general, myself, and even my friends and congregation. But I refuse to live in fear! I refuse to live in hiding. I refuse to accept that threats from enemies of God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven, the One who tells me to call Him “Abba” (Daddy) – carry more weight than the promises from God’s Word!
Since I’m already at 907 words, I should bring this “Observation” to a conclusion.
First, I don’t think it’s wise to share specific details about what is going on that made me write this post. Doing so would not help keep anyone safe any more than what is already being done. So, don’t expect any real details to come out in future posts.
However, I will say this: Even in America there are those who will swear they are not radical, but will nevertheless use the “fear card” credit their fellow faith-members have earned as a tool. Even should their veiled threats be hollow and only mean, it is impossible to know what is truly in the heart or intended, and should therefore be taken seriously.
Evidently, the Enemy wants to put a stop to what God is doing, and he’s not going to play nice. When people down here said they’d heard I was stirring things up, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind! And whether or not what we are going through right now as a family is related at all to the overall plan here in Georgia, in reality, it’s all related.
So, pray for us.
Your soldiers on the battlefield in middle Georgia
BONUS: Here’s a song my daughter Katie sang several years ago (I think she was 17). I think it’s pretty appropriate for today. Are we fearless, or full of faith?
Let’s take a look at the following verse from the tenth chapter of Proverbs.
The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth. – Proverbs 10:20
When we look at this verse, it is important for us to remember that there is a comparison/contrast being made. An “opposite parallelism” is being used to make a point that one thing is valuable, while another is worthless.
In this case, it is easy to notice that Solomon is contrasting “the tongue of the just” with “the heart of the wicked.” The tongue of the just person (the words that he speaks) is something beautiful and of great value, while the wicked man’s heart is just the opposite. But if we were to look a little deeper, there is more than meets the eye, or first impressions.
What is really being contrasted are the hearts of both the wicked and the just. You see, what comes out of a person’s mouth is directly related to what’s in his heart. Proverbs 16:23 says, “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.” In the book of James (3:11) we read, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”
Essentially, you can tell what is in a person’s heart by what comes out of his mouth. Jesus said, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” – Matthew 15:11 (NLT)
Do you like to tell dirty jokes? Then there must be lust in your heart. Do you always talk hateful? Then there is hatred (and maybe murder – see Matthew 5:21-22) in your heart.
Do you ever talk about God? About Jesus? About your love for Him? If not, maybe He’s not in there.
Do you realize that your heart is on display? No, I don’t mean that your chest cavity is transparent, nor do I mean that everyone can see your bloody, beating heart muscle. That’s sick!
What I do mean to say is that there is no hiding what is in your heart; because your words, the words from your mouth, tell the whole story.
Maybe we should listen to ourselves. Maybe we should ask others to tell us what they hear. Maybe we should be like King David and pray this prayer…
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”– Psalm 19:14
This morning I want to look at a verse from Proverbs. But before we do, let us read it in a couple of versions.
He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth [very] friends. – Proverbs 17:9 KJV
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. – Proverbs 17:9 NLT
Now, let’s talk about it.
Have you ever had someone remind you of a mistake you made years ago? If you are a husband, like me, then the answer is “Yes!”
I may be running the risk of alienating many female readers, but men who are married know that mistakes made today are likely to be discussed tomorrow…and next month…and ten years from now. You see, wives are endowed by God with the uncanny ability to remember every time a man goofs up. I am convinced it’s an ability given to them to help even out the “weaker vessel” playing field.
However, I have also learned something else about wives – they know when to draw the line. If they wanted to, they could talk all day about the stupid things we men do; but they don’t. They remind us just enough to keep us humble, but not enough to break our spirits.
Most wives actually love their husbands, you know.
Sometimes it is necessary to remind a person that is about to make a mistake what happened in the past. For instance, a true friend who might have been robbed by another friend who was drunk, or on drugs, might remind that person of his actions when he is tempted to take another drink. The reminder can be a warning designed to preserve a friendship, if not a life.
On the other hand, there are people who like to bring up the past on a regular basis. Their intentions are not to prevent anything, but to manipulate and control. That is what Solomon was talking about in today’s proverb.
The word translated repeateth is in the “active participle” tense. So, to put it another way, the person who is losing friends is the one who is continually bringing up the past.
Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” In other words, it is hatred that keeps uncovering the pain of the past, but love heals as it covers. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everything must be forgotten, for even though a bandage covers, the bandage only signifies a wound was there in the first place.
Of course, that’s what makes grace so great. Without sin there would be no need for grace; but because of sin, grace abounds. A love that is real is a love that testifies something is covered.
Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. – Proverbs 5:18
I’ve been doing a lot of weddings lately. As a matter of fact, I probably did 20 in the last two months.
One of the things I explain to the couples before they exchange rings and say their vows is how over time, if they will endure, their marriage will become more precious than the day they say “I do.”
This June my wife and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage, and believe me, we’ve experienced our share of fiery trials.
I ask the couples I marry to look at their rings and consider why the “precious metal” is precious. I ask them to consider what those rings went through in order to be shaped into the works of art they’re about to wear. Fire, forging, testing, shaping, more heat, and a lot of polishing: it was all part of what made the rings beautiful.
So why is it that so many men will throw away something as precious as a marriage tried by fire and forged in the furnaces of life for a temporary, plastic, fragile, and ultra-common shallow relationship?
Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. … And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? – Proverbs 5:18, 20
The fact is that we men (and women, too) tend to forget the value of what we actually have and get tempted by the shiny newness of what we don’t have.
Worse, we forget that the God before whose eyes we said our vows never took his gaze off of us. We have no excuses.
For a man’s ways are before the LORD’s eyes, and he considers all his paths. A wicked man’s iniquities will trap him; he will become tangled in the ropes of his own sin. – Proverbs 5:21-22 CSB
Satan hates families. Satan hates anything that mirrors the faithful love of the Lover of our souls, the Groom of the Bride – the Church. Therefore, he loves nothing better than destroying (and redefining) marriages.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. – Ephesians 5:31-33
This year, instead of taking my wife for granted, I want to spend time strengthening my marriage. I want to remind the wife of my youth that she’s more precious to me now than ever.
One reason is because my “ways are before the Lord’s eyes.”
Another reason is because the world is watching, especially my own children, and I want them to see in me a reflection of the faithful love of my Savior.
But there’s one more reason I want to strengthen my marriage… Valerie deserves it.
Without a doubt, there is someone who needs to read this today. I know I did.
The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts. – Proverbs 17:3 NKJV
Gold or Silver
In case you were not aware, there is a difference between gold and silver (Well, duh!). Seriously, there is a difference between the two, and that fact should not be taken lightly. Gold is gold, and silver is silver. Obvious stuff, right?
Well, sometimes the obvious is profoundly important.
Gold is extremely valuable but is soft and pliable. Silver is not as valuable per ounce but is nevertheless a harder precious metal. Gold is highly sought after and coveted; silver is more common but is still critically important for a wide range of applications, everything from electronics to medicine.
How one refines gold, compared with silver, is not the same. What’s more, the temperatures of the refiner’s fire is hotter for one than the other.
What R You?
When I read Proverbs 17:3 yesterday during a Sunday School class I teach, something obvious proved to be very profound: depending on how God wants us to be used, each one’s trial by fire will vary in intensity, the heat of which will determine what metal we are made of.
Source: The Australian
Unlike gold and silver, we are human; our qualities and usefulness change. Some days we are made of gold, while other days we are silver, but most of the time it is hard to determine which. That’s when the Refiner turns up the heat.
There is a lot to refining gold and silver. Not only is there heat involved, but various acids, too. Therefore, it should come as no surprise when God not only allows us to endure intense pressure (heat), but permits the caustic, painful situations of life to eat away the impurities within us.
God is the refiner of hearts.
But, you know what? Gold and silver, while both rare and beautiful, will never make good axes, swords, cannons, I-beams for skyscrapers, or bridges across raging streams.
Sometimes there are jobs that can only be done with iron.
Don’t feel special? Don’t think of yourself as gold-like? That’s OK! You’re important, too! As a matter of fact, the melting point of iron is nearly double that of gold.
You may think what you are going through right now is far tougher than anything a “golden saint” might deserve. Don’t lose hope; the fires forging you are instilling a strength that may be needed to wage war against the Enemy, support the heavy loads of many, or bridge the gap between understanding and ignorance.
Don’t curse the furnace. Let the Refiner do His work.
The impetus for this post came from an insurance commercial and a walk down the “princess aisle” at Hobby Lobby.
My Little Princess
Believe me, I get it. I have three daughters, so I am keenly aware of the need to make them feel special.
As a matter of fact, I have been known to go out of my way – actually, it really wasn’t – to make it known my girls are royalty. I have purchased the pink crowns, gone to the banquets, done the “daddy dances,” and participated in the high teas and fingernail polishing.
Shopping at Hobby Lobby
Every Dad should treat his daughter like a princess.
But What About Boys?
I shouldn’t have to elaborate very much because most of you probably already know how maligned the average male is in society, especially if he resembles anything masculine. However, society has yet to recognize the extent of the damage inflicted upon it by a radically-feministic and anti-gender agenda.
An anti-masculine paranoia has left men confused, scared, and spineless. Heck, even car insurance commercials (Liberty Mutual) tout the praise of coverage that can take care of teen boys who don’t know how to change a flat tire!
Proverbs 31 – It’s Not Only About Women
Now, whenever you think of Proverbs 31, what do you think about? The perfect woman? The high bar that is set for any woman who wants to be a model wife? Do you get stressed out with all of the expectations a male society is placing upon you?
Have you ever stopped to consider that Proverbs 31 starts out with a mother warning her son about other women? Have you ever noticed that the first few verses of Proverbs 31 contain words of affirmation…to a MAN?
Speaking of the tempting women and “strong drink,” this wise and caring mother warns,
“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings…” (Prov. 31:4).
What we need these days are more women like King Lemuel’s mother. We need women who will teach their sons about morality, ethics, duty, honor, responsibility, leadership, and genuine love…because they are kings.
We need parents who will pull the plug on the raw sewage put out by the likes of Yo Gotti and Nicki Minaj (I’m attaching a link to prove my point – viewer beware), and say, “It’s not for kings, my son, it is not for kings.”
The enemy doesn’t want to encourage biblical womanhood any more than he wants to encourage biblical masculinity.
So, empower your little princess; she’s truly precious.
But don’t forget about your prince; we need realmen, too.