Christianity 201

August 7, 2018

Avoiding Ambush

Proverbs 11:17-18:

If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away. But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed. NLT

Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net In the sight of any bird; But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives. But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives. NASB

Last year at this time I introduced you to Arnold Reimer, a retired pastor from a church I frequently attended — Bayview Glen Alliance Church in Toronto — and his blog titled Finishing Well. Today’s thoughts are from two consecutive posts there.

Ambushed

A downside of being a news junkie is the gloomy reports of tragedy and violence one hears nightly.  Accidents, shootings bombings, floods, hurricanes, sickness, death, deceit, fires, political strife and corruption – the list is almost endless!  Worst of all are the stories of man’s inhumanity to man – the acts of violence due to anger, revenge, lust, greed, drunkenness, rebellion – the whole gamut of consequences brought about by bad choices.  Too often a damaging environment in home, school, society, even religion or its absence, have shaped and twisted thinking and personality.

Whoever rejects the concept of sin, or the depravity afflicting humanity, is either blind or detached from reality.  The biblical explanation is, “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”  Truly, the “god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  Our nation’s increasing rejection of God’s authority over what is, and is not, sin is determining the decline and bleakness of our future.  The high cost of rejecting God and His commandments cannot be avoided.  We reap what we sow.

Who of us has not experienced, or observed, how easy it is to ambush one’s own life?   A wrong choice or decision, carelessly made, can reek havoc to one’s future, marriage, finances, relationships, reputation, health, career or whatever.   How grievous it is to see youth making choices about behaviour, morality, appearance, companions, habits, work ethics and attitudes that can only result in limitations and hurt, if not disaster.

For years our family devotions included reading a chapter from the Proverbs.  The first chapter contains a vital motive to pay attention to the whole book.  It warns the reader of those who “ambush their own lives,” by rejecting wisdom, knowledge and the fear of God.  They do not accept counsel and spurn reproof.  “They eat the fruit of their own way.

Oh, that young and old alike would seek the forgiveness of God that leads to salvation; and the wisdom of God that leads to wise choices, good decisions and true blessing.  Another proverb admonishes: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  From my youth, I have held on to that promise.  I can report with conviction that deviation from it hurts, but obedience benefits.  God is faithful to His Word and Ways.

Thank God, most ambushes to which we victimize ourselves, though often hurtful, are not fatal.  That allows us time, the wisdom of understanding, the grace of repentance, the kindness of forgiveness and the blessing of renewal.  “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your heart, for the night comes when no one can work.”   “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  What a wonderful, healing promise – a way to avoid an ambush!

Ambushed – Part Two

The Proverbial statement, “They ambush their own lives,” is a sad description of the self-hurt most of us have experienced at one time or another.  Wrong choices, bad behaviour and foolish rebellion result in wounds, dysfunction, crippling limitations, grief and the judgment of hurtful consequences – sometimes life-long and beyond.

The list of things that ambush one’s life can be found in the Ten Commandments.  Most of the disruption to family life, social chaos and corruption can be traced back to our disregard or violation of the divine will and order.  Because our government, educational system and courts of law have often chosen to reject God’s counsel for a noble society, our country is increasingly losing its way and stumbling in darkness.  The individual or family who rejects God’s way misses the pathway to a happy home and a safe environment.  The evidence of this is most everywhere one cares to look.  Our stubborn refusal to admit to our national rebellion against God and His ways, and thus to correct it, condemns us to devastating hurt!  We are literally ambushing our own lives!

Is there a solution?  What can we, who care, do about this before it is too late?

  • Proclaim faithfully the saving grace of our Lord Jesus.  Respond to the convicting, convincing work of the Holy Spirit who bears witness to all who will believe that they are children of God.  He guides into all truth those who listen.
  • Demonstrate and teach the fear of God, the value of obedience to absolute truth, and the beauty of holiness.   Sin must be named and forsaken.  Guilt must be understood rather than be disregarded or shoved under a rug.  The way of cleansing, purchased by the blood of Christ Jesus on the cross, must be applied.
  • Search the Scriptures daily to advance your knowledge of God.  Draw upon the sufficiency of Christ.   Find and own the promises of God which cleanse and shape thoughts and behaviour.   These actions build discernment and wisdom.
  • Learn to recognize the deceitfulness of the devil, the lust of the flesh, the nature of idolatry and the lure of the world and its ways.  Distrust yourself, but trust God.  He satisfies the hungry soul.
  • Put on the whole armor of God.  Practice using both the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit.  Expect to be attacked, and prepare for it.
  • Rejoice that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
  • Worship God in spirit and in truth.  Praise Him with a whole heart.  Pray to Him without ceasing, rejoicing in the Lord always.

As long as we walk this earth we will face things that ambush faith, hope, love, holiness, body, soul, spirit and our very lives.  So be it!  But our protection and victory are assured in Christ Jesus who has promised never to leave nor forsake us.  Having done all, stand – and keep standing for victory in Christ Jesus is sure and His coming is near.

June 8, 2018

Selwyn Hughes on Proverbs

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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It’s unfortunate that outside the UK, so few are familiar with the devotional writings of the late Selwyn Hughes. His devotionals were part of my own routine for at least a decade, and unlike other small devotional booklets, you had to pay for them. Furthermore, he would stay on the same theme for 60 days, so each day’s reading built on the previous days. His writing is currently available on the website Crosswalk. While I couldn’t get the earliest ones on this series from the book of Proverbs, I thought we would join the study a few days in progress…

 ►►►To continue with this series during this month, bookmark and track at Crosswalk – Everyday Light

Proverbs 28:1-17
“‘ a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order.” (v.2)

…[A]ny church which does not encourage its people, especially its youth, to dig into the book of Proverbs is doing them a major disservice. I was introduced to Proverbs within weeks of becoming a Christian and this book, perhaps more than any other in the Bible, has supplied me with wisdom for living that has enriched my life. Moreover, the teaching in this book has greatly empowered my ministry and my writing. Every young person in the Christian Church needs to be steeped in the book of Proverbs as there is nothing in the entire annals of literature that can so prepare them for life. Alexander McLaren, a famous preacher from a past generation, said: “Proverbs is portable medicine for the fevers of youth.” How true. And we might add that with medicine what matters is that you take it whether you know the doctor or not.

I have known a number of young men and women who have told me that they came to faith in Christ through reading the book of Proverbs. One such person told me: “When I applied the principles of Proverbs and saw that these wise and witty sayings really worked, I was drawn to search for the One whose hand was so clearly present in the book and also in my life. After reading the Instruction Manual I wanted to know the Instructor.” Not everyone, of course, will react in that way, but I myself am convinced that encouraging and exposing people, especially young people, to the ideas and concepts of Proverbs is one of the greatest forms of evangelism that can be conducted.

Proverbs 8:12-36
“Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors ‘” (v.34)

The more you read and study Proverbs, and the more you apply its words to your life, the more you will find that its wise and witty sayings “work.” They work because that is the way the Lord has set things up. It was said of Jung, the famous psychologist, that written over the door of his study was: “Invoked or not, God is present.” This interesting statement provides us with a clue to understanding Proverbs, for whether men and women invoke the Creator or not, His creative and sustaining wisdom goes on giving them a world where wisdom operates and where things make sense to humankind.

Someone has described Proverbs as “the scrapbook of common grace.” “Common grace” is the phrase theologians use to describe the grace that God gives to humanity in general so that, whether they turn to Him or not, they are enabled to live more effectively and wisely on the earth. “Wisdom,” says Charles G. Martin, “writes the handbook of instruction in God’s workshop and when people despise wisdom, that is, true wisdom, they blot the copy book of life.” …

Proverbs 9:1-9
“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars.” (v.1)

…I would encourage you to read through the whole book of Proverbs, preferably in two or three sittings…Our text for today tells us that wisdom is like a house built on seven pillars. There are two ways of interpreting this text. One view says that both wisdom and folly have a house to which humankind is invited. Wisdom has a much larger house than folly, being built upon “seven pillars” – a sign in ancient times of wealth, status and prestige.

There is no doubt that this is one meaning of the text, but the other view – and this is the one I am following in these studies – is that wisdom has seven major aspects. The book of Proverbs does not state categorically what these seven aspects are, so, based on my study and understanding of this great book, I am going to give you what I consider to be the seven major aspects of wisdom. Never in the history of the human race have there been so many problems, so much confusion, and so many conflicting philosophies of how to live. Those who lack wisdom do not have the perspectives that enable them to discern the connection between cause and effect and therefore they don’t understand what they are stumbling over, or, if they do avoid problems, they don’t understand why they avoid them. We need wisdom to live and Proverbs will show us how.

Proverbs 3:1-18
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding ‘” (v.5)

…The theme of trust is everywhere in Proverbs; it punctuates almost every passage. The word “trust” itself occurs quite often, the frequency varying according to the translation you read (in the King James Version, for example, “trust” appears ten times) and its synonyms, such as “lean,” “acknowledge,” “depend,” are found scattered through the book.

According to Rabbi Bar Kappa, the verse [above] is the pivot around which all the essential principles of Judaism revolve. He claims that these words summarize the teaching of the whole Old Testament and give a clear focus to the fact that the wise are those who trust God and follow His directions for living. But what exactly is “trust”? How important is it to daily living? Why do the word and its synonyms occur so many times, not only in Proverbs but in other parts of Scripture as well? The dictionary defines trust as “a firm belief in the reliability, honesty, veracity, justice and strength of a person or thing.” Basically “trust” is confidence that what we believe about a person or thing is true. We tend to think of trust as a spiritual quality, but actually it is an essential posture of life for everyone… All government, all economics, all institutions, all marriages, all relationships between people, are fundamentally governed by trust. We cannot relate well to God or others unless the capacity to trust is present within us.

Proverbs 14:14-26
“A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” (v.15)

…Without trust, society would deteriorate into paranoia – the feeling that everyone is out to get you. Mental health specialists see an inability to trust as a symptom of emotional illness. Erik Erikson, a famous psychiatrist, says that the capacity to trust is the foundation of good emotional health, and conditions such as chronic anxiety, high nervousness or paranoia could be caused by an inability to trust. Although people may let us down and betray our trust, we must be careful that we do not allow those experiences to lead us to the conclusion that everyone we meet is a conspirator.

On the other hand, you will no doubt have come across the expression “a trusting fool” – a phrase used to describe the person who is unable to discern the diabolical schemes that might be hatched up to exploit him. Erikson also says: “Unless we have a balanced approach to life – a basic trust together with a certain degree of caution – then we will never achieve emotional maturity or wholeness.” Note his words carefully – “a balanced approach to life.” Therein lies the secret. We must learn how to trust while at the same time exercising a certain amount of caution. Our text tells us that “a simple man believes anything,” but that does not mean we should go to the other extreme and believe that everything people tell us is a downright lie or fabrication. Truth is a narrow column and we must watch that we do not lose our balance and fall off.

►►►To continue with this series during this month, bookmark and track at Crosswalk – Everyday Light

 

 

August 12, 2017

Get Wisdom; Get Understanding

Today we’re paying a return visit to the blog with the unusual name: Warning! Sleep Talking Zone. You really need to click through on this one because Christy, who posted this has a lot of passion which comes through in different rich text elements (bold face, larger font, etc.) which you don’t get to see here. (But you’ll feel at home, she puts the scriptures in green!) So for a better rendering of today’s devotional study, click the title which follows:

Let the Wise Listen

I just wanted to share something that stood out to me from my Bible study so far this week. This week’s Torah portion is Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11; Deuteronomy 4:6 is what I mainly want to focus on, but I will include verses 1-9 for context:

“And now, O Yisra’ĕl, listen to the laws and the right-rulings which I am teaching you to do, so that you live, and shall go in and possess the land which Yahweh Elohim of your fathers is giving you.

Do not add to the Word which I command you, and do not take away from it, so as to guard the commands of Yahweh your Elohim which I am commanding you. Your eyes have seen what Yahweh did at Ba‛al Pe‛or, for Yahweh your Elohim has destroyed from your midst all the men who followed Ba‛al Pe‛or. But you who are clinging to Yahweh your Elohim are alive today, every one of you.

See, I have taught you laws and right-rulings, as Yahweh my Elohim commanded me, to do thus in the land which you go to possess. And you shall guard and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding before the eyes of the peoples who hear all these laws, and they shall say, ‘Only a wise and understanding people is this great nation!’For what great nation is there which has Elohim so near to it, as Yahweh our Elohim is to us, whenever we call on Him? And what great nation is there that has such laws and righteous right-rulings like all this Torah which I set before you this day? Only, guard yourself, and guard your life diligently, lest you forget the Words your eyes have seen, and lest they turn aside from your heart all the days of your life. And you shall make them known to your children and your grandchildren.” (ISR)

There is SO much just in these few verses that really stand out to me, but I made it obvious where I am going in this post.  Verse 6 says that guarding the Torah (I have mentioned in other posts that Torah simply means “instructions”) of Yahweh is our wisdom and understanding. I couldn’t help but think of several verses in the Book of Proverbs where wisdom and understanding is mentioned.  I think it would be safe to say that wisdom and understanding is the theme of the Book of Proverbs.  Wisdom is personified and frequently referred to as “she” and “her”:

 Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the broad places.

Proverbs 1:20

 And now, listen to me [Wisdom], you children, For blessed are they who guard my ways.

Proverbs 8:32 

We see in Proverbs 8:32 the same exhortation to guard the ways of wisdom that we saw in Deuteronomy 4!

 1 Chronicles 22:12 we read David instructing his son, Solomon: “Only, let Yahweh give you wisdom and understanding, and command you concerning Yisra’ĕl, so that you guard the Torah of Yahweh your Elohim.”

 Job 28:28 says that the “fear of Yahweh is wisdom“, and “to turn from evil, that is understanding.

Going back to Proverbs, in the fourth chapter there is a sense of urgency concerning wisdom and understanding:

 Children, listen to the discipline of a father, And give attention to know understanding;

For I gave you good instruction: Do not forsake my Torah.

For I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the eyes of my mother, 

Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words;

Guard my commands, and live.

“Get wisdom! Get understanding!

Do not forget, and do not turn away From the words of my mouth. 

“Do not leave her, and let her guard you; Love her, and let her watch over you. 

“The beginning of wisdom is: Get wisdom!

And with all your getting, get understanding. 

“Exalt her, and let her uplift you; She brings you esteem when you embrace her.

“She gives your head a fair wreath, She shields you with an adorning crown.” 

Hear, my son, and accept my words, And let the years of your life be many. 

I have taught you in the way of wisdom, I have led you in straight paths. 

When you walk your steps shall not be hindered, And if you run you shall not stumble. 

Hold fast to discipline, do not let go; Watch over her,

for she is your life.   Proverbs 4:1-13

And in Proverbs 23:23 we read this advice: “Buy the truth and do not sell it – Wisdom and discipline and understanding.”  There are so many more verses that I could share from Proverbs alone, but I will stop there.

In the New Testament we read about Paul praying for Believers to be “filled with the knowledge of His desire in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, to walk worthily of the Master, pleasing all, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of Elohim.” (Colossians 1:9-10) And in Colossians 4:5 Paul exhorts Believers to “walk in wisdom“.

Paul is not the only New Testament writer who wrote about wisdom.  James instructs us to ask for wisdom:  “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of Elohim, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it shall be given to him.” (James 1:5) And then in James 3:17 we read:

“But the wisdom from above is first clean, then peaceable, gentle, ready to obey, filled with compassion and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” I put in italics “ready to obey” because it is the same thing as “guard” that is used in the other verses.

Throughout the entirety of the Bible we see a consistent thread connecting wisdom and understanding to Yahweh’s Torah, and how His children must diligently guard the Torah.

The Torah of Yahweh IS wisdom and understanding. 

 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.
Proverbs 1:5 (ESV)

March 31, 2017

Before April 1st: What the Bible Says About Fools

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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With people reading here from around the world, I don’t know how common “April Fools Day” is where you live, but I thought it would be a good time to see what scriptures might come up in a search for fool, fools, foolish, etc.

As I’m sure you can imagine, many such verses come from the book of Proverbs. This is a book about wisdom and the wise person is clearly the opposite of a fool. I found a number of these verses listed at OpenBible.info. A number of verses also appear at GodVine.

The best source however turned out to be BibleReasons.com. This was a new site to me, but one I felt was the best because the verses were categorized, and they also provided an introduction. As often happens with solid, conservative Christian websites, all of the quotations are from the King James. I decided to go ahead with this anyway, I hope that “201” readers here can navigate the archaic language.

Not wanting to reblog their entire contents on this topic, I’ve done some selecting, so I encourage you to click the title below to read in full.

25 Bible verses about fools

A fool is someone who is unwise, lacks sense, and lacks judgement. Fools don’t want to learn the truth. They laugh at the truth and turn their eyes away from the truth. Fools are wise in their own eyes failing to take in wisdom and advice, which will be their downfall. They suppress the truth by their unrighteousness.

They have wickedness in their hearts, they are lazy, proud, they slander others, and live in repeat foolishness. Living in sin is fun for a fool.

It’s not wise to desire their company because they will lead you down a dark path. Fools rush into danger without wise preparation and thinking about the consequences.

Scripture keeps people from being foolish, but sadly fools despise the Word of God…

Teaching them

1. Proverbs 18:2-3 Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. Doing wrong leads to disgrace, and scandalous behavior brings contempt.

2. Proverbs 1:5-7 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

The mouth of a fool.

4. Proverbs 10:18-19 He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool. In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

6. Proverbs 18:13 Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.

They continue in their foolishness.

10. Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.

Arguing with them

11. Proverbs 29:8-9 Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but the wise will calm anger. If a wise person takes a fool to court, there will be ranting and ridicule but no satisfaction.

12. Proverbs 26:4-5 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

Trusting them

13. Proverbs 26:6-7 Trusting a fool to convey a message is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison! A proverb in the mouth of a fool is as useless as a paralyzed leg.

14. Luke 6:39 Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch?

The difference between an intelligent man and a fool. 

16. Proverbs 15:21 Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.

17. Proverbs 14:8-10 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.

Fools say there is no God.

20. Psalm 53:1 1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.

21. Psalm 74:18 Remember this, O LORD, that the enemy has reviled, And a foolish people has spurned Your name.

Can a Christian call someone a fool? This verse is speaking of unrighteous anger, which is a sin, but righteous anger is not a sin.

22. Matthew 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.


Again, there are 25 verses in the full article, it’s easy to see by the numbers here we condensed this. Click the title to read the full article and bookmark the site next time you want to pursue a particular topic.

That would be wise thing to do!


Related post from April 1, 2014: A Day Devoted to Lies.

November 2, 2015

When to Speak, And When Not To

Several years ago at Thinking Out Loud we linked to Carole McDonnell’s blog; it’s always great to return years and years later and find people faithfully writing.  This piece stood out from a number she’s written over the past months. I later discovered this will be her third piece here at Christianity 201. Click the title below to read this at source.

A soft answer turns away wrath

 A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.  Proverbs 15:1

This is a verse that has saved the lives, reputation, and livelihood of many people throughout the ages. It is found in the Book of Proverbs,  book of great wisdom that is designed to protect its reader from sin, shame, poverty, and death. There is much in Proverbs about anger, and it behoves the reader to take these admonition to heart.

It is generally a part of human nature to defend itself, whether the “self” is right or wrong. It is also generally a part of human nature not to allow one’s self to be intimidated. Humans are also insightful. They can perceive egotistical and subtle human pride in the rebukes, corrections, and scoldings they receive from when certain teachers, officers of the law, pastors or others use or abuse their “authority” to lecture them and triumph over them.  Rebukes can be given at the correct or incorrect time, with the wrong or right attitude, with a desire to help or a desire to assert the rebuker’s pride. Those with power, however, often become so identified with their power that they do not wish to be challenged.

In American culture, there have been many instances of cruelty done by police, slaveholders, financiers, and others in some kind of authority. Sadly, those in power have often won, especially when there was no videotape or fair-minded judge to challenge them. The guilty have often triumphed over the weak even when the laws were fair.

The Preacher writes in Ecclesiastes 4:1, “Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless.”

The Preacher also writes in Ecclesiastes 7:17, “Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them.”

Those who believe in God trust God to defend them and to show them when to speak and when to be silent.

The Psalmist writes: “How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” Psalm 13:2

He also writes: “O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.”  Psalm 25:2

The Preacher also states, “I said to myself, ‘In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.'”

A victim might or might not get justice inside a court of law, but learning to answer one’s oppressor carefully by “biting one’s lip” can protect one’s life, livelihood and health. As the Preacher says in Ecclesiates 9:4, “There is hope only for the living. As they say, ‘It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion!'” The victims of oppression in many countries have learned to survive the unjust authorities over them by knowing when to use gentle –if cowardly– answers. This is how the ancestors of Black people survived during the early days of lynching and perhaps this will be necessary in the modern day when the counterpart of lynching is also prevalent.

January 6, 2013

The Prayer of Agur

Tony Pearsall at the blog FireSpeaks, is beginning a series on prayer. Here’s the first installment. Click the title for the link, and then bookmark the page if you wish to continue in the series.

The Prayer of Agur

( I dare you to pray this prayer)

I would say 95% of all Christians have heard of the prayer of Jabez, but only about 5% of the those Christians would tell you where it’s located in the Bible. This is just the opposite with The Prayer of Agur, of the very few Christians that have heard I would guest that nearly 100 % of those Christians knows where it can be located in the Bible. Why this is so, we will address later, right now lets look at the prayer.

Proverbs 30:7-9
Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.(KJV)

In this prayer a man named Agur ( identified in proverbs 30:1) ask God for two things,

  •   That God’s sustaining Grace will keep him from falling into sin because of his vanity and lies
  •   That God would meet his needs
    • but not so abundant, that he will forget that God is the source of all good things in his life.
    • and not so sparingly that he has to steal to meet his own needs.

This is a difficult prayer to pray it deals with or vanity and pride, the lies that we tell and that others may tell us, and our lust for money and fear of poverty. However Agur does not ask God to help him stop lying, but to keep him out of the situations and circumstance that may tempt him to lie, or that may cause him to act in vanity or pride; to keep him out of circumstances where others are likely to have him as a subject of their lies.

We are cursed with the false belief that we can handle riches in our life , but this is far from the truth. When the options for large amount of money becomes a subject of our interest we almost universally see it as an opportunity to to get more things. I heard Christians who would never play the lottery, say things like “if I won the lottery I would buy…” you fill in the blank. The fact is, the natural man desires the gifts, and blessing of God greater than he desire God. It is for this very reason that God will not answer a prayer from us that would take us from his presence.

James 4:3 (AMP) says “ [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.”

Agur was a man of wisdom, he knew his own fear of want, and the temptation that being impoverished has on mankind. So he prayed God don’t hold your substance from me so much that I am out of my lack will steal and defile your name.

The question we must ask ourselves are we willing to admit that we are unable to subdue our vanities, and pride ? Are we willing strip ourselves bare of the curse of plenty, so that we may live upright in the presence of Christ?

June 23, 2012

Freeing Yourself From Anger’s Poison

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:22 pm
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Today we introduce you to the ministry of Allen White, who ministers through the blog Galatians419. This post was originally entitled Churning Up Anger: How To Free Yourself. You’re encouraged to read at source and then visit the rest of Allen’s blog.

For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.Proverbs 30:33

The Slow Food Movement is gaining momentum across the U.S. and around the world. People are making the connection — treating plants with poison leads to eating poison, and giving antibiotics and hormones to animals leads to people eating the same. Our food is making us sick.

Now, if you have some great argument in favor of Food Inc, please send your comments to eatmorepoison@galatians419.com. (This is not a real email address, but please feel free to send your complaints there.)

The Slow Food folks believe what we put into our bodies affects our bodies. They prefer organic, grass-fed, free range, cage free, hormone free and overall more natural foods. Don’t be mistaken. They don’t advocate eating cardboard – those are the weight loss people. (Please send your complaints to the email address above).

When it comes to food, we are what we eat. If we put the right things into our bodies, we tend to be healthy. If we put the wrong things in, we can become unhealthy. It’s simple cause and effect.

Solomon applied this principle to other common practices. If you churn milk, you get butter. While we may be eating healthier, few of us are back to churning butter…yet. If you can get milk worked up enough, it will produce butter – not margarine, not fake butter, but the real thing.

If you twist your nose, it will bleed. If you don’t believe me, then go ahead and try this at home. Have a towel handy and maybe some ice. If you try this on another person, then you’ll end up with two effects from this verse – blood and strife.

Anger produces strife. According to the dictionary, strife is “vigorous or bitter conflict, discord, or antagonism.” Strife is getting someone stirred up for sure.

Now, milk is not volatile. If you stir chocolate syrup into milk, you get chocolate milk, not chocolate butter. If you twist your nose slightly, you might look funny, but you probably won’t bleed. But, keep the towel handy. When you continually activate anger, you antagonize the other person and cause on-going conflict.

I say “active” anger, because I learned from Dr. Archibald Hart years ago that anger is only a present emotion. We don’t store anger up in some vast reserve to be released. If that was the case, we would feel better after we lashed out at someone. That just doesn’t happen.

The Bible tells us, “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26) and when we do get angry we need to resolve things before sunset. We shouldn’t carry the results of anger over into the next day.

Anger isn’t sinful. Anger is an emotion just like happiness, sadness or any other emotion. How we use anger can result in sin.

If we continually keep ourselves worked up over something that happened long ago, we are probably entering into sin. If we can’t get past an issue or forgive someone, we’ve also violated some Scriptural principles like Colossians 4:32.

Much of our anger comes from fear. We become upset when we’re afraid. So, here’s the exercise for today. Set aside a few minutes and ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What am I angry about? 
  2. What am I afraid of?

If you can’t come up with a few answers right off the bat, then pray and ask God to reveal these answers to you.After you have the answers, then begin to ask God to help you work through these issues. Read Scripture to give you a truthful perspective on your anger and fears. It can be transforming.

~Allen White

April 14, 2010

The Wisdom Psalms

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In the text considered in the previous post, the “Rivers of Babylon” Psalm, we’re provided with some background information not available anywhere else in the scriptures.   At this point, the Psalms, while not a historical book, lapses into history.

In the Messianic Psalms, the book clearly lapses into prophecy.   While the Psalmist’s words have fulfilment at points closer to the time of writing, we see a clear picture of events fulfilled in the life of Christ, to the point where I truly believe that Jesus’ cry from the cross, “My God, Why have you forsaken me?” is, in addition to many other things, a giant billboard flashing out the message, “Turn to Psalm 22 and read it.”

Mostly, however, we think of the Psalms in terms of poetry and worship, but I’d like to suggest that many of the Psalms are more Proverb-like.   If you were asked to guess the source for the verses featured today, you’d be forgiven if you said they were from the book of Proverbs —

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat– for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.   (Ps. 127 1-5 NIV)

or this one

No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man.
But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.  (Psalm 75: 6-7 NIV)

Of course, this is balanced out by the many times historical books, prophetic books and even New Testament epistles surprise us with moments of worship which are very Psalm-like.

Conclusion:  We find both worship and wisdom throughout the scriptures.   Someone has suggested that each and every of the 66 books of the Bible contain the DNA of the gospel, enough to lead a person to Christ.   You could also argue that each contain a sampling of all that is contained in the other 65 books; proving the harmony of scriptures and the idea that the Bible is truly one book.