Friday, August 31, 2018

Friday - Proverbs 23 - Wine & Dine

T would be easy enough to harp on the last seven verses of this chapter.  And truly, the woes of alcohol abuse are clearly depicted in those verses.  Additionally, if we are interested in decrying the dangers of imbibing, Proverbs 23:20 & 21 add even more fuel to that fire.  But notice the rest of verses 20 & 21.  Not surprisingly, there is another sin that is coupled with drunkenness.  It is that slightly less obvious vice known (in the Scripture) as gluttony.  Notice also that this chapter begins by addressing ill-advised eating habits.  While nine verses are given to forbidding drunkenness, eight verses in this same chapter address the dangers of edible temptations.

Why, you might ask, would I choose to emphasize gluttony here?  I certainly have no desire or reason to soften God's injunctions against drunkenness.  However, I don't personally ever recall being strongly tempted by alcohol.  On the other hand, I'm frequently tempted with food, especially chocolate.  (I have to wonder if the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had chocolate on it?)

We tend to smile, laugh and crack jokes when speaking of gluttony in a religious context.  But be assured, with God, it is no joke.  Numbers 11:32 & 33 show both the evil that is behind gluttony as well as God's serious disgust at our indulgences.  Besides that, 1st Corinthians 10:31 reminds us that we are to glorify God even with our eating.  And no surprise either, what did Christ do before meals?  What are we taught to do before eating?  We are supposed to express our gratitude and ask for God’s blessings upon our food and our consumption of it. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thursday - Proverbs 22 - Of Business, Money & Possessions

ANY of the verses in this chapter apply to how we handle ourselves in relation to our business dealings... money, possessions, debt, poverty, wealth, our work ethic, etc. God is the maker of every human, whether he is rich or poor. Implication?  We are expected to respect people based upon who made them, not based upon their "price tag" as set by this present world (Proverbs 22:2).

Of course, that doesn’t mean money is irrelevant.  Wise men look at the future and make plans in order to be ready.  They prepare for foreseeable hard times (Proverbs 22:3).  Although we walk by faith, not by sight (Matthew 6:34), we are also called upon to live our lives with our eyes wide open (Matthew 10:16 & 1st Corinthians 14:40).

Along with honesty and diligence in business (Proverbs 22:28 & 29), humility before God (not ambition or intelligence or even opportunity) is the shortest route to lasting financial freedom (Proverbs 22:4 & 19).  A proud and brash disposition is therefore a great inhibition to any kind of prosperity (Proverbs 22:5, 8 & 22-25).  And, if we want our children to make sound financial decisions when they are adults, then we must teach them and empower them while they proceed through their years of growth.  Maturity doesn't just dawn on them naturally (Proverbs 22:6).

One more thing: borrowing money is like selling yourself to another man to serve as his slave.  Debt-free living should be every wise man's goal (Proverbs 22:7, 26 & 27).  Instead of either lending or borrowing, we should all strive to simply be givers – especially to those around us who have apparent needs (Proverbs 22:9, 16, 22 & Ephesians 4:28).

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Tuesday - Proverbs 21 - How about God?

GAIN in this chapter, as in the last, we have many practical tidbits of advice packaged together.  However, there is a theme that arises, and that is "the importance of considering how God fits into every equation."  In any scenario in life where we have a decision to make, we would be wise to consider how God's involvement is sure to affect the outcome.

CASE 1: God studies our hearts (Proverbs 21:2).  We may develop a wonderful reputation and record among our peers, but God evaluates our intentions, motivations, desires and mindsets.  Which is more important? Pleasing God or ourselves, & others (Proverbs 21:3)?

CASE 2: We do well to consider and to expose the wickedness of the wicked culture in which we live, however, ultimately it will be up to God to bring in righteousness.  Even if we are involved in a revival, a reformation or a revolution, justice can only be accomplished with God's inclusion, involvement and superintendence (Proverbs 21:12).

CASE 3: There is really no such thing as a campaign against God.  When men strive against God, He turns their energy and efforts against them and succeeds even more in their resistance.  In that sense God is always undefeatable and irresistible.  Additionally, we can contribute nothing significant to the final success of God, even when we struggle to support Him.  God is moving in a particular direction at a set pace and there is absolutely nothing that we can ever say or do to either stop Him or to make Him more likely to reach His destination (Proverbs 21:30 & 31).  Argue if you like for freewill and for the efficacy of prayer.  I'll agree vigorously concerning the genuine existence of both, yet still, our sovereign God transcends us and controls us in ways that are unperceivable and incomprehensible.  We are surely blamable in many cases, but whenever credit is due, it is always due to Him, never to us (Psalm 115:1).  God wants us, but He doesn’t need us.