A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great, v16.
Okay, I have a confession to make.
When I shop and there are ‘tasters’ being offered I always take. Even if I don’t normally eat the food or like the food, I gladly receive. Sometimes I have walked around the aisle and gone back trying to appear to be a new customer in order to feel it would be okay to take a second free portion of olives on a stick or whatever it is.
I like to receive. That’s my confession.
And now a fact.
Since a child I have been taught it is better to give than to receive. I like to have the opportunity to buy-in to things that have convicted me because of vision and a clear strategy. That is why I have decided to give every month to Elim Missions. Join with me please.
Send a cheque of any amount to Elim International Missions, Elim International Centre, De Walden Road, West Malvern, WR14 4DF. Or you could simply phone us today on 01684 588 940 and make a difference.
I truly believe God’s presence will be strong in your life as you give.
Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife, v1.
Yesterday I sat and listened to a man called George. He has a church who worships outside in the north of India. He and his wife have a small modest home. Money is scarce. They are doing much with very little. Their house has a dry crust.
Today I think of a family who will be attending a lovely church. They live in a nice house. Money is no problem. Yet they do little for God with their life. Their house has so much it’s like a banquet.
I cannot help but compare.
Yesterday I was impressed by the peace I felt.
Today I think of all the stress and the falling out.
I know which is better.
It is George.
Anyone can come up with ideas, v1
Those ideas can all look good, v2
Good for our life, v9
And justified by appearing to be so right, v25
A Christian can base their whole life’s decisions on the above 4 steps. They can appear to be very spiritual and envied amongst the Christian community.
They talk well.
They look good.
They do right.
However, what does God say? v1
What are the true motives? v2
Is this sustainable? v9
What does it look like in the end? v25
No one ever gets too big for the above 4 questions. No experiences, no qualifications, no titles and no recognitions outweigh the need to know those answers.
It is not complicated. We need to keep it simple.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” v3
He is always in charge. It is better for us when we acknowledge that.
A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel, v18.
The Academy Award-winning movie Forrest Gump has been viewed by millions. There is a line worth noting. The scene has one of the central characters, Jenny, returning to her old home after her father has died. The old farm house is dilapidated and abandoned. As she reflects on the sexual abuse that she endured as a child, she is overcome by rage and begins throwing rocks at the house. The photography is powerful as it shows her rapidly reaching for rocks and then violently throwing them at the house. Jenny finally falls to the ground in exhaustion and the scene closes with Forrest Gump sympathizing, “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.” Many of us struggle with anger. It can stem from a variety of reasons, and some anger seems very justifiable. Yet, unresolved anger leaves us reaching and crying out for more rocks. The rage is never satisfied, and contentment is never found. Through the power of Christ we can find the strength to lay down rocks of anger rather than needing to reach for more.
A man was dying in the desert. As he stumbled over a sand dune he was greeted by a man selling ties. The dehydrated man begged for water, but the salesman said he only had ties. In frustration and anger the weakened man continued on his journey for survival. In an hour he reached an isolated restaurant in the middle of the desert. Was it a mirage? As he drew closer, he saw it was real. He was ecstatic. With renewed energy he ran for the door. He was stopped at the entrance by a security guard who denied him entry. The guard said, “I’m sorry, sir, but you need to wear a tie to eat here.”
Be careful: what you may be angry at today could make perfect sense tomorrow.
Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests, v14.
I am writing this in the house of friends that I have known for 21 years. They were faithful members of my first church in a farming community. The church was called Church in the Barn and it did what it said on the tin: meet in a converted animal barn on a working farm. Every Sunday we worshipped to the smell of animal dung and the noise of cattle in this new church plant. It is easy perhaps to imagine a church worshipping in the mess and the smells of a farm. However, the true mess was within the Church. God sent to us all kinds of people with every behavioural or social problem you can think of. Broken, bruised and battered people came to this small church and they found an acceptance, love and the grace from God. Within a few years the barn was filled with worshippers.
I learnt that to see Church grow we needed to receive and clean up the mess.
The manger is clean only if there is no oxen because cattle leave a whole heap of mess. But without oxen to plough the fields, there is no harvest.
Is your manger empty? Maybe it is because you have become a bit too comfortable, perhaps focusing too much on being tidy and orderly.
Maybe today you can accept a little mess of your life …
Some people who don’t seem to go away …
A difficult or tough job …
Tiring studies that don’t make sense …
Hard work …
One day you will look back as I do today and say that period of my life though difficult was worth it.
v12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Let us differentiate between the false hope of the world and the hope of God’s children. ‘Comical Ali’ had hope. He spoke hope, he looked hopeful, he was wrong, he was very wrong. He proclaimed Saddam airport secure when it had been taken. He declared that the pictures of Saddams statues been pulled down was because they were being cleaned. He declared that America were no-where near Baghdad when American tanks were driving down the streets of the city. It was false hope. Comical hope.
An assistant manager of a large department store saw a boy standing at the bottom of the escalator one day. The assistant became suspicious. He watched the boy for a while. The boy had his eyes glued on the moving handrail. Finally the assistant went over to the lad and questioned him. “Something wrong young man?” he asked? “No sir “., replied the boy, not taking his eyes off the handrail, “I’m just waiting for my bubble gum to come back.”
We face issues far more serious than having our bubble gum get stuck on an escalator handrail, some days the world seems like it has no hope and some days our own world has so many disappointments and challenges that we feel drained and something inside begins to shrivel.
On September 17 1911 Galbraith Perry Rogers left Long Island, New York and on November 5th he arrived in Pasadena, California. The time Perry spent in the air was only 3 days and 10 hours and 14 minutes. Along the way he crashed 39 times and made 30 other unscheduled stops. The only parts of the original plane that were left and completed the trip were the rudder and the drip pan. But he never let go of hope and he became the first pilot to fly across the U.S. from coast to coast.
You need to keep hope alive. You need to keep your eyes on Him. You will get there.
You may not know who Eugene J. Polley was. He is quite famous for an invention that we all love. Yet at the end of his life he regretted what he had invented because it had made everyone lazy. Polley invented the television remote control and it was first called Lazy Bones!
Solomon writes to the lazy man and says “Work!” v24. Hard work pays. He uses the word diligence. It means the attention to detail. The things that perhaps others overlook. Being early for work. Getting the job done. Staying until it’s done.
But the lazy become oppressed, they become enslaved, under the control of their own slothfulness, defeated and without hope.
God wants you to work and work will cause you to gain the confidence that you long for. It is time to rule, to get on top of things, to be in control of circumstances and for this to happen then you need to be committed to the four letter word.
The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favour with him, v1
The proverb shows that God is deeply interested in business and how business is run. He cares when people are swindled. There is nothing about whether this is the Christian or non-Christian being deceived, that’s not important to Him. Wherever and whoever carries out deception God hates it. The feeling of coming away from a deal and being ripped off is the same emotion that God is having.
Think of what Jesus told us. He said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Our good deeds and doing what is right will cause others to look to God.
As Christians our actions can indeed speak better than words.
We live in a world where the norm is to:
Cut corners. Cover up. Lie about sick days. Put inappropriate pressure on others.
Businesses are spending much time and finance on teaching integrity in the workplace. Why? Because for years we have felt that we can get by without it.
It is important that the world sees that we have no part to play in the compromise, the dodgy deals, the lying and cheating that may go on as normal practice. We are different workers or we should be!
What the church needs in our nation are not more talented worship leaders, preachers or management leaders. The importance is not our gifting and abilities but the demonstration of who we are and how we do our work. Do we go the extra mile at work? Do we work for more than we are paid for? Or do we just do enough or less if we can?
Let us all keep finding favour with God. Let us all be honest.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom …v10.
Why do I care so much? Why so concerned with people? I am constantly trying to read the signs, thinking through the words, observing behaviour, monitoring the faces of people. I must not offend, I must please, I must be clever, funny, sound intelligent. I must be tidy, I must be articulate. Why do I want people to like me, accept me, be pleased with me? I sleep, eat, work, breathe on a stage, dancing to the tunes of those who want more, who want to applaud or jeer. Please clap me. I can do better. I can do more, just watch me. You haven’t seen anything yet. Sometimes I look up and catch a glimpse of this imaginary audience, perplexed that their voice is so much louder than anything I have heard in the reality of life. Yet the imagination is the reality. And I am in fear.
Am I alone? The answer can be seen on Facebook right now.
And into this milieu of mess I make my wise decisions. But no more, it ends today.
God is bigger than people and the audience in my head.
God I am really concerned about what you think. I watch my words and my behaviour because you watch me. I do not want to offend you. I want to please you, I want to sleep, eat, work, breathe You. I want to dance to your tune. I look up and gaze on you mighty God. You are an immoveable, all-encompassing foundation for my past, present and future life. You are mighty to save and mighty to keep. You rule over heaven and earth and over me. You are deliverer, protector, Saviour, one who moves, one who sees, a fortress, loving, a shield, mighty, ruler, a strength, a refuge, You are!
And into this milieu of delight I begin to make new decisions. And I realise that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
v1 Wisdom is calling out. But who is Wisdom?
v 11 Wisdom is more valuable than anything else. But who is Wisdom?
v 13 Wisdom hates pride, arrogance, bad works and bad words. But who is Wisdom?
v 17 Wisdom can be loved and sought after. But who is Wisdom?
v 23 Wisdom was there before the beginning. But who is Wisdom?
v 27 Wisdom was there when the universe was created. But who is Wisdom?
v 30 Wisdom was at the side of the Creator of mankind. But who is Wisdom?
v 32 Wisdom says blessing is in keeping his ways, watching at his doors, waiting at his doorway and finding him. But who is Wisdom?
Apostle Paul and the early Christians identified this Wisdom: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God” 1 Corinthians 1:30.
Are you blown away yet with the fact that Jesus is all over the Bible not just the New Testament? He is here in Proverbs 8! And if that is not marvellous enough for you then slow down and look at this …
v 33 Wisdom (Christ) says listen to my instruction and …. be wise (be Christ)!!
Today let us all be Christ-like for Christ is calling us to do so.