Proverbs 27: My Filthy Rags

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Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. ~ Proverbs 27:2

In a world where social media is king, this verse is becoming harder and harder to heed. It’s so easy to get online and proclaim our accomplishments, post photos of ourselves with celebrities, or with awards. It’s so easy to boast and brag about all that we have done.

Praise from the mouth of another is comely and appropriate. Praise of ourselves by ourselves, isn’t. We have all known someone who bragged on themselves or who sought out  praise from others. I’m fairly certain we have also been guilty of these charges ourselves. But even if we have kept silent about our perceived goodness, we have thought it about ourselves. “I look great tonight!” or “No one could have done this the way I just did it!” These thoughts are the beginning of self-praising words. These thoughts are just as prideful as the spoken words would be.

Many of my posts in this series have been about words, because that is my weakness. This one is no different. How often have I, without thinking, naturally slid into praising myself while talking to someone!

The only solution to this dilemma is to humble myself before God and seek His forgiveness. I must remember that without Christ , I am nothing! I would be bound for Hell were it not for Him! Even now, my righteousness is as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) Now there’s a Facebook status: “Just want everyone to know – all that I have done is but filthy rags.” At least that would be a true statement. I want to recall often the words of John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30. May it be so, Lord, in me.

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Proverbs 26: Joker, Beware

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As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death,  So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport? ~ Proverbs 26:18-19

I love to laugh. I love hearing funny stories and sharing them. But this passage reminded me today that you can have too much of a good thing. While I love laughing, I do not enjoy a joke which is at the expense of another. Practical jokes or jokes which humiliate someone, is what this passage is about. I quote Charles Bridges’ wise words:

“How little does the thoughtless man consider the misery, which his wantonness occasions to others! He bears no  malice. He indulges on the pure love of mischief. He carries on a scheme of imposition as harmless play. His companions compliment him upon his adroitness, and join in the laugh of triumph over the victim of his cruel jest. What the man calls ‘sport’ is the ‘madman’, scattering murderous mischief – firebrands, arrows and death. What are smoothly called ‘practical jokes’. . . come under this awful charge.”

When we purposely deceive someone in order to tell a joke, does this remove our deception? No, it just makes the deception look cute. It seems excusable because it puts a smile on a few faces, but what about the one who has been deceived? Could their smile be forced? Could their smile be a way to hide the hurt and embarrassment they are feeling? It is likely.

Let the joker beware: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. – Galatians 6:7

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Proverbs 25: A Broken Wall and a Lasting Legacy

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He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. ~ Proverbs 25:28

What a picture this verse gives us – a city broken down, without walls. That city is highly vulnerable! Any beggar can pilfer the remains. Vandals can destroy and loot the property. Enemies are given freedom to come in and do as much harm as they desire. Charles Bridges says, “He that hath no rule over his spirit is an easy prey to the invader. Anyone may irritate and torment him.”

My dad struggled with a bad temper before he was saved. He struggled with it after he was born again, too. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt us from sin – though I wish it did! I remember that he quoted this verse  and told us he was working on controlling his temper. The image of this weakened city resonated with him, and he didn’t want to be that way. I am happy to say that God gave him victory in this area before his death. Dad wasn’t perfect –  he could still get riled up on a bad day – but he didn’t stay that way. He worked to correct the error and not to make it again.

The only way to fortify ourselves is to build up walls of prayer around us. Prayer – the great work of the Christian life! It is so easy to say “I’ll pray,” and so hard to follow through – for me, anyway. Christ said in the model prayer “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. (Matthew 6:13) That should be our prayer as well. We do not want to be led astray by anger or lust, thereby committing murder or adultery. We want to live holy lives that glorify the Lord. This can only be done with Christ’s help, and that can only come through prayer and Bible reading.

Today just happens to be my birthday. It was a blessing to be reminded today of all days, that my dad is still speaking to me. No, not through the Bible, my Heavenly Father does that. My dad speaks through his legacy. He speaks through the life he lived in front of me every day as he tried to be pliable in the Potter’s hands. In a way, I do see my dad through Scripture – because that was where he sought guidance. He never said, “Read your Bible, Valerie!” He said, “Look what I read in the Bible, Valerie.”  He showed me each day that his struggles were real, but not insurmountable. His faith was small, but God’s grace was abundant. His life pointed to Jesus – the Author and Finisher of his faith.

As long as I have a Bible, I can hear my parents’ voices through its pages. I find reminders of them all throughout God’s Word  saying to me,  “This passage helped us to keep going, it will help you, too!”

And in my darkest moments, or when I stumble and fall, I imagine that my dad is standing on the shores of Heaven, cheering me on.  He says, “Get up! You can do it! Keep running! It is worth it all!”

With love,

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Proverbs 24: When We Shouldn’t Rejoice

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Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:  Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him. ~ Proverbs 24: 17-18

There are some things we should not be happy about. One of them is when an enemy receives his due. I can recall as a child that it would play out this way: someone would say something mean to me, and then trip and fall on their face carrying an open can of soda. Inside, I was laughing and thinking “You got what you deserved!” Outside, I feigned pity. As an adult, I’ve had similar happenings. I’ve tried to show pity, but I’ve secretly rejoiced over my enemy’s misfortune. In some cases, I was mad at myself for feeling happy about my enemy’s downfall, but I still couldn’t deny that vindication felt good.

I’m here today to say that I needed these verses. As you can see from my above statement, I’m not very good at heeding them. I hope that I’m not the only one who loves seeing the saying, “What goes around, comes around,” come true.

But Christ has a high standard. In Matthew 5:44 says, But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;  That’s pretty hard to do! Only through Christ can this be achieved. The same is true of today’s verses. I can’t stop the initial, fleshly satisfaction at seeing an evil-doer receive his comeuppance, but I can keep those thoughts from remaining in my mind. I can repent of them, pray for that person and move on in my own life. If that “enemy” is a child of God, then He can take care of it without any help from me. This verse also says that being joyful over another’s calamity displeases the Lord, and I truly do not want to do that. While we should rejoice about many things in this life, the fall of our enemy is not one of them.

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Proverbs 23: From Envy to Gratitude in 2.3 Seconds

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Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. ~ Proverbs 23:17

As a child, I didn’t enjoy the Christian life that my parents forced upon me. I didn’t like my Christian school. I didn’t like going to church THREE times a week and sitting for an hour or more. I didn’t like going  back to church EVERY Thursday night for soulwinning, even though I was allowed to stay at church and play in the gym. I didn’t like kids’ choir practice. I didn’t like dressing differently from my peers in the world. I wanted to fit in. I couldn’t do that very well since I wasn’t watching the TV shows and movies that my neighbors watched or listening to the music they listened to. I was an oddball. I hated being odd, even though I knew the Bible says we are to be a “peculiar people”, I still hated it. The problem was my sin. I was abiding under the wrath of God, therefore, trying to be a Christian was an impossibility for me. I spent most of my days envying those in the world who were relaxed, comfortable and seemingly happy.

As of June 12, 1993, my perspective did a 180° turn. I still felt like an oddball, but that was because all fifteen year olds feel that way. After I met Christ, I didn’t loath Christian activities anymore. In fact, now I was seeking after those things. I had a hunger and thirst for righteousness. I enjoyed hearing the preaching – it finally made sense! I started to love singing, and I began thinking about the words to those songs. I noticed they were rich with love and praise for the Savior, and sometimes, I actually became misty-eyed during congregational singing. For the first time in my life, prayer was talking to my Father, not just going through a hollow tradition. The Bible, while still confusing in places, was opening itself up like never before.  My mind didn’t wander as often. Everything was different.

My salvation was over 21 years ago. I wish I could say that I have never envied the un-saved world since that day. I wish I could say that I had the LORD on my mind first thing each morning for 21 years.  But that would be a lie. I have often felt envy toward the success of the world – their fame, their finances, or their fun. I’m sorry to say that sometimes I fall into a pity-party, thinking how hard my life is as I labor for the Lord. But just as those jealous thoughts start to dig in and grow roots, the Holy Spirit reminds me of today’s verse, or one of the following verses:

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. ~Psalm 1:4-5

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. ~ Psalm 9:17

Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. ~ Psalm 37:1-2

The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth. ~ Proverbs 10:30

But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God. ~ Ecclesiastes 8:13

After recalling some of these passages, I no longer feel envious of the world. Instead, I become thankful for the destiny that God has provided me. The things that I had just viewed as “sacrifices”, I now see as “opportunities”. I feel moved to share the Gospel with others, so that they might know how wonderful this Christian life is! I go from envy, to gratitude in 2.3 seconds. And it’s all because of the precious Word of God.

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Proverbs 22: Greater Than Gold

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A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. ~ Proverbs 22:1

Who doesn’t need more money? I see ads all the time that claim I can make “$5,000 a week from home”. Of course, my parents taught me that if it sounds too good to be true, it is. But if I stop to ponder exactly what $5,000 a week would do to my life, it could be tempting.  Today’s verse puts a halt on thoughts like that, though. Just what would I have to sacrifice to get more money? Time with my family? Then what would they think about their wife and mother? Would I have to spend time with unsavory people? What does that say about me? The list goes on and on. Proverbs 22:1 says plainly that if I can keep a good name, then I have something worth more than gold. I would rather reject money and work on my testimony. After all, I have a lot of work to do!

While growing up, I often heard preachers say that your testimony takes years to build, but can be destroyed in seconds. How true. Since then, I’m sorry to say that I’ve seen it happen over and over. Each time, I am reminded how easily it could be me!

I can’t think of a single time where I’ve actually had to choose between money or my testimony, but if that time ever comes, I hope I will choose to the good name because truly, it is greater than gold.

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Proverbs 21: The Cry of the Poor

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Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. ~ Proverbs 21:13

In sixth grade, my Christian school teacher gave us an assignment to illustrate a verse from Proverbs. Today’s verse is the one that I chose. After all the assignments were turned in, she had the drawings transferred to transparency film and we got to trace them using an overhead projector onto poster board. They lined the walls of the classroom for a week or so, and church members were able to see them.

My drawing has gone the way of the dinosaur, but this truth was traced upon my heart. Each week, we took a lady home from church. It felt like she lived hours away, but it was probably only about 20 minutes. The first time we met her, she lived in a teepee. I kid you not, it was a Native American style teepee! Later, her husband, who was never gainfully employed, made them a type of dug-out basement to live in. From the outside, it looked like a giant baseball mound. This woman was mentally disabled and, to me, she was a nuisance. I dreaded the long drives on Sunday mornings, when I just wanted to get home and eat and relax for a while. I sighed and complained. My parents endured me. Their flesh fought them too, but they had willing hearts that wanted to serve. They wanted to be a blessing to those who were less fortunate.

I didn’t understand the meaning of Proverbs 21:13 until years later, after I had been born-again by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s amazing how a hard heart can become soft once the Holy Spirit indwells it. Oh, I still felt hungry after church, and wanted to be home, but I became a little more compassionate, a little more understanding. I didn’t complain as much. Instead, I was thankful that I didn’t live in a dug-out. I felt blessed and somewhat joyful that we could offer this lady some help. The Lord had done a work in my heart.

I still fight my flesh when it comes to helping those in need. So many of the indigent waste resources on drugs and alcohol. I don’t want to help them in their addictions, but I do want to help those who truly have a need. I certainly don’t want to find myself on the opposite side of this, having to cry myself but not being heard. The Lord will direct me, but it begins with a willingness to listen to the cry of the poor.

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