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Pride→disgrace. Humility→wisdom.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).

When we see gray clouds we know a storm and rain are probably coming. Proverbs leads us to see other connections and correlations from other phenomena and make other important deductions. Just as if we see gray clouds we know rain is coming, if we see pride we know disgrace is coming.

Disgrace follows pride like dessert follows dinner; one comes then the other. Superiority then scandal, self-importance then shame. Disgrace follows pride as surely as two follows one. There’s a sequential relationship. If one is not humble there will be humiliation.

The prideful person, however, may not even see or experience the humiliation though. They may further puff up against the pain rather than confront their inadequacies.

The arrogant are in the dangerous place of not seeing their own ignorance. If we see ourselves as superior, we aren’t in a good place to see our own stupidity. Those who think they stand then should take heed lest they fall (1 Corinthian 10:12).

What is the solution? Humility.

We should be willing to admit we are sometimes wrong. We have done wrong and been wrong in the past, we should know that this could (and will) happen in the future too.

Christianity gives a basis for humility.[1] It teaches us repeatedly that we don’t always get it right. And Jesus said, blessed are the humble who know that truth (See Matthew 5:5ff).[2]

Christians should be willing to listen, willing to learn. We should be humble because our Lord Jesus has called us to humility. We don’t know it all and we should admit that truth.

“With the humble is wisdom.” Those who know they don’t know, are in a good place to know. If we realize what we don’t realize, we are open to realizing.

Pride → disgrace.
Humility → wisdom.

_____

[1] Christian behavior is not based on knowledge alone, that leads to pride and destroys others, even those for whom Christ died; Christian behavior is based on love grounded in the knowledge of Christ. We tend to think we know all we need to know to answer all kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. As Eugene Peterson has said in his paraphrase of the Bible, the Message: “Knowing isn’t everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings.” I appreciate what Richard Baxter said, “If we have any knowledge at all, we must needs know how much reason we have to be humble; and if we know more than others, we must know more reason than others to be humble” (The Reformed Pastor, 144). I also appreciate this from Thomas à Kempis: “What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? …I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God” and neighbor?” (The Imitation of Christ).

[2] Proverbs also tells us repeatedly that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”

Faith or Flounder

“My steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
Psalm 73:2-3

Our focus and our faith matter.

Wrong Focus = Destruction

It was when the psalmist was envious of people that had stuff that he didn’t have that he nearly fell. When we see a representation of the “good life” that we don’t have, it can make us discontent and even angry at God.

It makes me think of Instagram. Instagram is notorious at giving a very false lens on life. Not only are pictures edited and filtered, they’re staged. They’re set up beforehand so everything is just right. The pictures are also specifically picked to portray the perfect picture behind the perfect life.

If we focus on other people’s lives, or pictures of their “perfect” lives, it will often lead to discontentment. We will think they have it all. And we will think our life stinks.

That’s essentially what happened to the psalmist. “[Their] steps had nearly slipped.” Why? Because they were “envious of the arrogant when [they] saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Ps. 73:2-3).

Faltering faith can be a result of focus. The psalmist nearly slipped not because they began to doubt the existence of God. Nope. That’s not what it was. They began to doubt the goodness of God because someone else was apparently living the “good life;” living the life they themselves wanted to live.

There was no logical argument. The issue was “kardialogical,” from desire of the heart. The psalmist was envious, jealous of someone else’s prosperity, and upset that others have “no pangs until death” (v.4). That is what nearly caused the downfall. He thought, “All in vain have I kept my heart clean” (v. 13). It’s pointless because I don’t get the enjoyment I desire but only suffering (v. 14).  

Right Focus = Delight

The psalmist couldn’t understand and was tiring of considering what he thought was unfairness on God’s part (v. 16), until something happened. The psalmist “went into the sanctuary of God” (v. 17). Then his perspective radically shifted. That was when he “discerned their end” (v. 17). He saw things differently from the viewpoint of the coming Judgment. The wicked may enjoy life now but they will be “destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors” (v. 19).

The psalmist realized that though there may be suffering in this life, what is of utmost importance is the next life. The psalmist knew that after this life God would receive him to glory (v. 24). We have to have faith that that is true and focus on that truth or it will be our destruction. If we do have right focus, however, it will be our delight. The psalmist said, “There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (v. 25).

If we just focus on Instagram we’re going to want insta satisfaction. But there is a life that comes after this life. And it is eternal. As Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” We need to have the right focus, a focus on eternity.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jim Elliot

Let’s have focus on that truth. Let’s remember that our flesh and our heart will fail, but God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever (v. 26). And let’s make the Lord God our refuge and let’s tell of His works (v. 28).

Guard your Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

We’ve probably all heard someone say, “I love you with all my heart.” What they mean, of course, is not I love you with the muscle in my chest that pumps blood around my body. That would be creepy.

They say, “with all my heart” because the heart is used as an expression to communicate the control center of one’s being. It is where one does their thinking, feeling, and choosing.

Our hearts, then, are very important. That is why we are not to guard first our eyes or our money but our hearts. “Above all else, guard your heart.”

Just as in our physical life, the health of our hearts determines to a great extent the health of our bodies. If our heart is encumbered it impacts our energy and our mental clarity. If our muscles and brain don’t receive the oxygen they need through the heart’s work then we will not function properly and are even in danger of death. 

Because of this, we seek to keep our hearts healthy. We know we need to eat healthy foods, get exercise, and take medicine if prescribed by a doctor. We know we need to protect our heart.

Proverbs 4:23 says the same thing of our immaterial heart. We need to protect it, guard it, and keep it safe. The health of the whole of our lives—not just physical—is impacted by the health of our heart at the core of who we are.

Everything we do flows from our hearts. Let’s make sure we guard our hearts and feed on things that will promote health and wholeness. So, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

Fear & Flourish

“…Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh…” (Proverbs 3:7-8)

These verses stood out to me in my reading today. They’re important to understand and even more important to apply. There are three main points and they build sequentially upon each other.

1.Fear the LORD

This is essential. If God is not rightly respected the following points of the verses fall flat.

Fear of the LORD is the beginning (Prov. 9:10) and the beginning of freedom from sin.

2.Turn from Evil

We must turn from evil. The cold hard truth, however, is that we won’t unless we know and love the LORD. Actually, we’ll even have confusion as to what evil is.

But, we must turn and even run from evil. If we don’t it will be our downfall. It will be our downfall in a million ways. The start will be subtle but the end will be slow suffocation. Choking out life.

If we turn away from evil, we will…

3.Experience Healing

God, as God, knows how life is to be lived. He knows because He created all life. When we turn from the destructive nature of sin, we turn to the good God intended for us. And it’s life giving. It brings medicine to our bones (v. 8).

So, let’s fear the LORD, turn from evil, and experience the flourishing God has in mind for humanity.

The Joy that Awaits

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

-Isaiah 35:10

Some times people paint with colors and at other times they paint with words. Isaiah here is painting with words and what a wonderful picture he paints.

He starts by saying that “the wilderness and the dry land shall be glad” (Is. 35:1). The groaning world, the world bent with the Fall, shall be made right. Even the earth shall be glad. The barren desert, filled with dust and sand, shall beautifully blossom.[1] It shall “rejoice with joy and singing” (v. 2). The whole of the world will unfurl and be in a state of spring. Yes, the desert shall blossom like the crocus (v. 1).

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The redeemed shall see the majesty and “the glory of the LORD” (v. 2). Our eyes as of now have a shutter over them, we see through a fog, or as through dirty glass dimly, but then we shall see. We shall see the full wonder of the LORD’s glory and beauty. We know the whisper but we shall hear the wondrous roar!

Read More…

Our Hope in the Midst of the Virus

“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by his love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.”
—Zephaniah 3:17

This is a difficult time for many of us. Yet in the LORD we find comfort that transcends our earthly struggles. What hope do we have in the midst of this time of difficulty?

Zephaniah recounts for us a lot of really difficult things. Zephaniah is not a lighthearted read. It is heavy. If Zephaniah was a painter, he wouldn’t have used pastel colors. Instead, the canvas would be filled mainly with black and red.

Yet, there would be a glimmer of light, a glimmer of hope in the darkness. What hope is that and who is it for?

Read More…

Layout your Lament to the LORD (Psalm 10)

The Bible teaches us that we can layout our lament[1] to the LORD. We can cry out to Him for help or to honestly share our disillusionment. Lament psalms make up around a third of the book of Psalms and is the most numerous type of psalm within Psalms.[2] And so we see, “The vast majority of psalms were written out of a real-life struggle of faith.”[3]

The Bible teaches us that we can layout our lament to the LORD. We can cry out to Him for help or to honestly share our disillusionment.

Here we’re looking at Psalm 10.

Cry for Help (v. 1)

The first thing we see the psalmists does in this psalm is cry out for justice. “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”

We too can take our honest wrestling to the LORD. In fact, that is what we must do. We must bring our laments to the LORD.

Read More…

The Resurrection and Our Hope No Matter What

What is the correct response to the coronavirus? Should we have fear or faith?

Well, the answer to that question depends on where you’re coming from and your understanding of this world…

The Bible teaches Christians that through Christ, no matter what we face, we can have faith. We can have hope.

Reflecting on the resurrection of Jesus helps us have faith. It helps us see that we have a solid, untouchable hope.

In Acts chapter 2, Peter refers to Psalm 16 which is a Psalm that king David wrote. Psalm 16:27 says, “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.” In Peter’s message he said: Friends, I can confidently tell you something about king David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us today (Acts 2:29). David is dead and his body rotted.

Read More…

The Gospel Ripple

“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Ephesians 4:28).

How does the good news of Jesus impact individuals, families, neighborhoods, and cities? Does the gospel make people prideful begets? Does it make people unloving and judgmental? 

Ephesians 4:28 gives us a case study of what the impact of the good news of Jesus is supposed to have. It should change individuals. If they steal, it should change them so that they no longer do so.  In the same way, the employer who is a jerk and does not treat people well is to change and instead be kind and care for their employees. The employee is also addressed, they are to do honest work and work as unto the Lord Jesus Himself.

So, we see the thief, the employer, the employee, the soldier (Lk. 3:14), and all types of people in all sorts of positions, are exhorted to not take part in wrong and destructive practices. That is the negative command. That is the, “Don’t do…” But there is also a positive command. Something we are told we must do. And that is labor. Whoever we are and whatever we do, there is something we must do. We must engage in labor, we must do the work before us in honesty. So the Christian is to work their best whether someone is watching or no one is watching. 

Read More…

Not Afraid, Really?…

Photo by JR Korpa 

“I will not be afraid of tens of thousands of people who have set themselves against me on every side” (Psalm 3:6).

This verse by itself makes no sense and is even dangerous. I would be afraid and very afraid if thousands of people had it out for me. This would especially be the case if they were on every side. 😬

How could the psalmist write this? Why would David, the author, be so puffed up? It seems he’s either arrogant or amazingly naive.

Of course, with anything that’s written, no less the Bible, context is absolutely vital!

What we did not see yet about Psalm 3 is that David had already written, “I cried to the LORD, and He answered me” (v. 4). And so David could rest even in the midst of a very scary situation. David says, “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me” (v. 5).

In the midst of all the many difficulties we face, may we with David confess: “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (v. 8). May we cry out to the LORD for help. May we take comfort knowing that He is our shield (v. 3). And then May we rest in His powerful and capable care.

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