Proverbs 31b

Speak Up. Step Out.

“Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” – Proverbs 31:8 MSG

There are far worse traits than apathy. When we get to the point that we just don’t care or refuse to be bothered by anyone or anything, we have lost our purpose for existence. God created us to do good works. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT). But before we can do good, we have to care. We have to be willing to make a difference. This is a repetitive theme in Proverbs. “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, ‘Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you'” (Proverbs 3:27-28 NLT).

All men are made in the image of God. We have the ability to understand right from wrong. We are fully equipped to see injustice and acts of unrighteousness against those who can’t defend themselves. And those of us who are Christ followers should have a special affinity for the hopeless and helpless because it was “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8) that Christ came and died for us. It was when we were in our most helpless and hopeless condition that the Son of God came to save us and give us new life.

God loves all men, but He has a special place in His heart for poor, the downtrodden, the innocent, and those who find themselves suffering injustice in the world. He commands us to care for widows and orphans. He demands that we give special attention to the poor and needy. Here in Proverbs we are reminded, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed” (Proverbs 31:8 NLT). We have a God-given responsibility to care for those who find themselves incapable of helping or providing for themselves. To ignore them is to ignore the very heart of God. In his letter, James reminds us that “pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (James 1:27 NLT). Isn’t it interesting that James lumps caring for orphans and widows together with refusal to be corrupted by the world? Why? Because the world we live in is antithetical to God and His ways. In our world the poor suffer in silence, the weak get run over, the helpless have no hope, and the needy receive no aid. They become the silent victims of injustice as the world looks on in apathy. But God calls us to speak up and step out. He expects us to do something about the poor in our midst. He wants us to use our voices and our hands to remedy the situation, not just notice it.

Once again, James gives us further insight into this issue. “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’ — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless” (James 2:16-17 NLT). Awareness of need is useless without action to meet the need. Noticing poverty, but refusing to do anything about is not only cruel, it’s unrighteous. It’s unjust. But we are called to “ensure justice for those being crushed.” We need to speak up and step out on behalf of the poor and helpless. What will that look like for you today?

Father, this is a hard one for me. I confess that I am far more likely to say, “Have a good day, stay warn and eat well” than I am to do something about the poverty and need I see all around me. Too often I just assume that someone else will take care of it. Give me a special sensitivity to those I come into contact with today who fit into the category of poor and helpless. Let me look beyond just physical poverty and notice the spiritual poverty of those in my world. Let me step into the lives of those who are both physically and spiritually helpless and provide them with hope. Help me make a difference. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Proverbs 30b

Things That Rock Our World.

“There are three things that make the earth tremble – no, four it cannot endure: a slave who becomes a king, an overbearing fool who prospers, a bitter woman who finally gets a husband, a servant girl who supplants her mistress.” – Proverbs 30:21-23 NLT

There is a created order to God’s world. There is a way in which things can and should work so that we experience peace and not chaos, calm instead of confusion. And when God’s way is either ignored or rejected, the result can be catastrophic and earth-shaking. It may seem simple and innocent enough, but when we fail to do life according to God’s terms, it never turns out well. When God’s natural order or path of wisdom is departed from, it creates a hole in the fabric of the universe.
in this Proverb, Agur gives us a series of “three-four” sayings that act as warnings against life lived outside of God’s prescribed plan. At first glance they appear somewhat humorous, but upon closer examination, we realize that these sayings are real and sobering. In verses 21-23 we find a list of four seemingly innocent and innocuous individuals who find themselves in improved situations. You have a slave who winds up a king, a fool who has an endless supply food, an unloved woman who lands herself a husband, and a servant girl who ends up taking the place of her master’s wife. Each of these individuals represent an unexpected, elevated status that is not accompanied by a change in nature. These are simply examples of events that are not in keeping with God’s natural order of things. A slave is not meant to become king. If he does, he will tend to take advantage of his new-found power and authority and lord it over those under his control. A fool who refuses to work and is inherently lazy, but finds himself with an endless supply of food and stuffs himself on it, will never learn that blessing is the result of diligence. A bitter, unloved and unhappy woman who finds herself a husband will not automatically become happy and content. She will continue to struggle with the same issues, driving her husband insane and, ultimately, away. A servant girl who becomes the focus of her master’s affections, taking the place of even his wife, will fail to honor the one for whom she works. Each of these people are pictured as getting what they long for: power, prosperity, affection and position, yet they are not truly satisfied. They have attained what they have unfairly or even unnaturally. Their circumstances have changed apart from God’s natural order of things. It is like a poor couple winning the lottery and suddenly finding themselves rich beyond their wildest imaginations. The likelihood of that situation turning out well is not good. Their new-found wealth will result in unwanted, but NOT unexpected consequences.

It’s interesting that these examples of unhealthy life changes are stuck between Agur’s statements regarding the blood-sucking leech who is never satisfied and a series of four other creatures that reflect diligence, hard work, and a reliance upon God’s creative order for all things. Get-rich-quick-schemes are warned against all throughout the Proverbs. Laziness is villainized. The expectation of reward without work is discouraged. Achieving the apparent blessings of God without living according to the expectations of God can be dangerous and is to be discouraged. We must do things God’s way. No short cuts. No compromises. It has to be His way if you want to experience His blessing.

Father, thank You for giving this world order. Thanks for providing some method in the midst of all the madness. May we learn to do things Your way rather than try and shake things up by operating outside your perfectly prescribed plan. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Proverbs 29

With Power Comes Responsibility.

“When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.” – Proverbs 29:2 NLT

All of us long for power in some form or fashion. The thought of being weak and powerless is naturally repulsive to most of us. And the truth is, we all experience some kind of authority over someone or something else. The question is – how do we handle power when we have it? Are we fair and just or do we wield our power with pride, arrogance and in an abusive manner? Authority is a divine concept and God holds those in authority responsible for their actions. God gave Adam and Eve special responsibilities to care for and have authority over the creation. God gave Abraham authority as the father of a nation of people chosen by God. God gave Moses authority to lead those very same people out of captivity and into freedom. He gave the prophets authority to act as His spokespersons and proclaim His word to His rebellious people. God gave the disciples authority over demons, disease and even death. But all authority can be abused. We can utilize our positions of power or influence for good or bad. A parent can abuse their child, using their authority to destroy the heart and soul of the one they are to nurture and love. A boss can abuse their responsibility, taking advantage of his employees, overworking them while he underpays them. Politicians and rulers can abuse their authority, ignoring the needs of their constituents in favor of maintaining their party’s power and their own position.

The Proverbs have a lot to say about authority and Proverbs 29 is no exception. We are reminded that godly leadership is the best form of leadership. It causes those under it to rejoice. While the leadership of the ungodly produces pain and heartache in those who must bear up under it. According to God, the kind of leadership or authority He is looking for is just, fair, compassionate, and caring. In other words, God expects those with authority over others to practice His brand of leadership. He wants them to lead the way He leads. That means we must lead through love. We must discipline on occasion, but always out of love. We must judge at times, but always with love. We must guide and direct those under our care, but out of love, not anger.

Authority is a huge responsibility. Ultimately, those in authority will be held responsible by God for their actions. There is no place for pride, selfishness, greed, or self-gain. Those who hold positions of authority exist for the good of others. They hold the welfare of others in their hands, whether they lead a nation or a family. God watches over the helpless, hopeless, innocent, and powerless. He will hold those in authority responsible for the manner in which they rule, judge, lead, care for, and protect those under their care. And anyone who holds a position of authority is wise to recognize and to constantly remind themselves that God is the ultimate authority. He is the one who is in control of all things. All others report to Him. They owe their positions to Him. They get their right to rule from Him. So rule well. Lead wisely. Practice authority responsibly.

Father, the world is filled with irresponsible leaders who abuse their roles and take advantage of their authority, to the detriment of those under their care. Help me to see any authority I may have as God-given and to use it wisely, knowing full well that I am under Your authority. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Proverbs 28

Law-Lovers.

“God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law.” – Proverbs 28:9 NLT

The verse above contains a pretty serious statement. It should grab out attention and make us question what it means to ignore the law. What law is he talking about? And what does it mean to ignore it? You and I certainly don’t want to find ourselves in the position where God detests our prayers. We don’t want to find ourselves crying out to God only to have Him refuse to hear or answer our prayers because of the fact that we have ignored His law. This Proverb, while a collection of independent wise sayings, does have somewhat of a theme. Most of the verses can be tied right back to the Ten Commandments, the original Law of God given on Mount Sinai to Moses during the days of the Exodus. Here they are:

  1. You must not have any other god but me.
  2. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens of on the earth or in the sea.
  3. You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. You must not murder.
  7. You must not commit adultery.
  8. You must not steal.
  9. You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
  10. You must not covet.

If you notice, the first four regulate our relationship with God, while the last six deal with our human relationships. Now if you go back to Proverbs 28, you will see that most, if not all, of these verses have to do with our outlook on the law of God and its impact on our relationships with others. Throughout this Proverb you see contrasted the wicked and the righteous or godly. One group rejects the law of God while the other embraces and obeys it. “To reject the law is to praise the wicked; to obey the law is to fight them” (Proverbs 28:4 NLT). God’s law is the standard for all life on this planet. How we treat Him and how we relate to one another is contained in the law. It gives us the basis for all our interactions. Without a standard, everyone does what is in their own best interests and according to their own set of self-centered rules. It leads to corruption, graft, greed, abuse, neglect of the poor, and justification of all kinds of harmful actions. We are warned, “Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe” (Proverbs 28:26 NLT). To walk in wisdom is to live your life according to God’s terms, in obedience to His law or standard for life. God cares deeply about our human relationships. He wants us to treat one another with care, concern, respect, dignity, love, and honor – because all mankind is made in His image. But when we reject God’s law and disrespect our parents, murder out of hatred or for personal gain, take another man’s wife, steal what belongs to someone else, discredit another human being, or desire what they have more than we desire a relationship with them, we are fools. We lack wisdom because we are rejecting the conditions for life given to us by God Himself. It results in “moral rot” as described in verse 2. It leads to abuse and oppression. It becomes contagious, leading even good people to do bad things. It causes men to justify their actions and to reject accountability for the wrongs they commit.

The Ten Commandments begin with four statements about honoring God. We are to treat Him with respect, dignity, and honor at all times. As Proverbs 1:7 says, “Start with God – the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning” (Proverbs 1:7 MSG). Our relationships with men are all based on and dependent upon our relationship with God. Wise rulers are those who know God and honor Him with their lives. They live according to His rules and don’t rule based on their own set of subjective standards. Wise parents are those whose households are God-honoring, where He is lifted up and held as the standard for life. Wise young people obey the law because they love God. Wise vendors don’t try and take advantage of their customers in order to make a buck, because they love God and know that dishonesty is dishonoring to Him. The wise commit sins, but immediately confess them to God, because they know He sees and they value their relationship with Him more than any pleasure their sin may provide.

Loving the law is simply loving God. It is obeying His Word because you trust Him. It is doing what He says because You recognize that He knows best.

Father, You did not leave us here to do whatever we want to do according to our own set of subjective standards. That is what leads us to sin and causes us to harm one another. You have provided us with Your standard for living and You have given us the rules for governing our relationships with one another. But it all begins with our relationship with You. Help us to trust You more, and to rely on the fact that Your law is good, holy and right. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Proverbs 27b

The Power of Praise.

“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold. But a person is tested by being praised.” – Proverbs 27:21 NLT

Praise is a powerful commodity. It should be used sparingly and wisely. Too much praise can cause pride. Too little praise can result in resentment and bitterness. Everyone needs to hear words of praise on occasion, but when it is given it must be sincere and well-deserved. False praise is nothing more than lying. Praising someone who has an addiction for praise can be destructive. Failing to praise someone who is deserving of praise is ultimately selfish and like stealing what is rightfully theirs.

The writer of Proverbs 27 knows the power of praise and warns us about it. Like fire, praise can do much good, but it can also be dangerous if treated flippantly or foolishly. He warns us against self-praise, which is basically bragging. Nobody likes to be around a braggart, yet we all do it at times. We want others to know our accomplishments and to be impressed with our exploits. Self-praise can be as simple as hanging all your diplomas on the wall of your office for everyone to see. If it is meant to impress, it is self-praise, and self-praise is never attractive. Self-praise can be as innocent as fishing for compliments by chumming the water with stories of your good deeds. It is manipulative and unattractive to watch. We are warned, “Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth – a stranger, not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2 NLT). One of the hard realities of life is that the lack of praise we experience may be the result of us having done nothing praise-worthy. But it could also be that any praises we receive are meant for the ears of others. Those praising us may be telling our boss or supervisor. They may be praising us to their friends. We may not hear it, but we benefit from their praise just the same. If we HAVE to hear praise to benefit from it, our motivation needs to be questioned.

How we receive praise reveals much about us. “A person is tested by being praised” (Proverbs 27:21b NLT). In other words, if praise tends to make us proud and puffed up, it is exposing a heart problem. It is showing us that we have a character flaw. We crave praise. We are addicted to praise. We are motivated by praise. If we don’t receive it, we lose our motivation. It is like an actor who loses his love of acting because he fails to receive the applause he thinks he so richly deserves. At that point, he is acting for the applause, not because he loves to act. If we require the praise of others to make us do what God requires of us, we are doing it for the wrong reason. Doing good deeds in exchange for praise turns our efforts into nothing more than a job. Energy expended in exchange for pay. But we are to do good deeds out of the motivation to honor God. Our efforts are for His praise and glory, not our own. Any praise we receive is an extra-added bonus. It is to be like a sacrifice. Those who brought sacrifices to God did not receive applause from the crowd standing around them. Their effort was what was expected of them as servants of God.

But praise is not a sin. It is a vital part of doing life together as human beings. The key is that praise is something that is given. It is not to be sought. It is like a commodity we have that is to be shared with others, sparingly and wisely. Too much praise, like too much honey, can make the other person sick. Praising a child for anything and everything can end up making them proud, arrogant, and addicted to praise. When they grow up and don’t receive it, they will become angry, resentful, and begin to question their own self-worth. Too little praise can be destructive too. Withholding praise is nothing short of cruel. It is like refusing to pay an employee for a job well done. But for some of us words of praise are difficult to say. Maybe it’s because we failed to hear them as children. We are unaccustomed to hearing them. But words of encouragement can be a gift we give to those in need. They can be like water to a thirsty man – refreshing, reinvigorating, and re-energizing. It takes wisdom to know how to use praise effectively. False praise is disingenuous and deceitful. It’s nothing short of flattery designed to benefit the one giving it. False praise is ultimately self-centered.

Praise is powerful. It has the potential for both harm and for doing good. It is to be used wisely can carefully. It is not something to be sought, but to be given. The praises of men should never be our motivation. Seeking to please God is what should drive us, inspire us and motivate us. The praises of men, when given, are to be received humbly, gratefully and with an understanding that the one who really deserves credit for them is God.

Father, only You really deserve praise. Any good deeds I do are the result of Your Spirit within me, motivating and empowering me. Nothing I do that is worthy of praise is the result of my own self-effort. I can do nothing worthwhile without You. Help me to give praise rather than seek it. But help me to give praise sparingly and with a focus on the heart behind the effort. I want to praise others for what is motivating their behavior, not the behavior itself. Give me the capacity to use praise wisely. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

 

Proverbs 24b

 

I’ve Fallen and I CAN Get Up.

“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.” – Proverbs 24:16 NLT

Living a godly life is not easy. Nowhere in the Bible are we promised a life of ease and comfort when we follow Christ. Yes, He offers us rest, but He does not promise us a trouble-free life. Instead, He assures us that our life will be marked by troubles and trials. He tells us that the world will hate us and that Satan is determined to destroy us. Yet, most of us seem to have an expectation that the Christian life is the good life. There are even those who preach and teach that following Christ is your ticket to health, wealth and prosperity. But history tells us otherwise. Over the centuries since Christ ascended into heaven, there have been countless numbers of His followers martyred for their faith. Others have been persecuted and forced to live out their faith in the face of threats and extreme deprivation. The life of godliness is not a bed of roses. It is the life of an alien living in a strange land. We are outsiders here. This world is no longer our home. We are on enemy soil and we are engaged in an epic battle between two forces at complete odds with one another.

As a result, there will be days when we fail and possibly fall. We will experience ups and downs in this life. But as Christians, we enjoy a certain sticktoitiveness that allows us to respond to setbacks and disappointments with amazing elasticity. We bounce back. We get back up. We keep on keeping on. As Christians we have a future hope that we can rest in and look towards. Paul put it this way: “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits arebeing renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT). When you have an eternal perspective, the setbacks of this life take on a different perspective. As Paul says, they begin to appear as small and short-lived. So rather than let them get us down and keep us there, we respond to them with hope and endurance. Paul knew this from experience. He was a man who had gone through all manner of trials and difficulties in his life as a follower of Christ, yet he was able to say, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:3-5 NLT).

We can and will fall down. But we can and should get back up. “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again” (Proverbs 24:16 NLT). The wisdom of God lets us know that the trials of this life are temporal and limited in their impact. They cannot take away our salvation. They cannot change our eternal status. And while uncomfortable and unenjoyable, as Christians we can embrace them because we know they produce endurance in us and are part of the loving plan of God for our lives. He uses them to perfect us and correct us. He uses them to reveal our own weaknesses and His power. For God, they are simply opportunities to use His strength to provide for His children. The truly wise see life through God’s eyes. We learn to view the circumstances of life from His perspective.

Father, sometimes this life can be hard. But I know You are here with me every step of the way. And I also know that Your love for me does not waver or change. My circumstances are not an indicator of Your love and faithfulness. Help me to view my circumstances through the lens of Your love. You never leave me or forsake me. You never let me down. You are able to use any and every circumstance in my life to make me more like Your Son. Thank You. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

 

Proverbs 23b

Don’t!

“Get the truth and never sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.” – Proverbs 23:23 NLT

When our children are young, one of the most common words they hear come out of our mouths as their parents is “don’t!” It seems like we are constantly having to tell them what NOT to do. Why? Because they are young and lack the ability to know right from wrong. They are self-centered and live in a world that they think consists only of them. Their desires come first. If they see something they want, they simply take it, regardless if someone else is using it at that moment. If they desire something and someone denies them access to it, they find a way to get it anyway, even if it means disobeying the authorities in their life. Kids have to hear the word, “don’t” because they don’t know any better.

In chapters 22 and 23 of Proverbs we have a list of 30 wise sayings, most of which are prohibitions or restrictions against particular behaviors or attitudes. They address everything from drinking to the dangers of gluttony. We’re told not to cheat our neighbors and not to make friends with someone who has an anger problem. But why do we need to hear all these warnings and commands? Because many of us still lack the ability to make wise decisions on our own. Remember, the book of Proverbs is very practical, providing divinely inspired input for daily living. This is Monday-morning relevant stuff. No religious mumbo-jumbo or spiritual speak here. This is relevant counsel for real life. But if we try and apply these principles to our lives like self-help tips, we are going to be highly disappointed. Oh, they might work for a while, because they are truths from the very throne of God. But we will be incapable of keeping them long-term because we really don’t understand their value and we lack the convictions necessary to stick with them. We will be like a child who knows all the rules, but fails to keep them because he doesn’t understand the reasons behind them.

The key to all of this is understanding the truth. If we look at these wise sayings without an understanding of the truth behind them, we will simply see them as restrictions that keep us from doing the things we want to do. We will see them as road blocks to our self-satisfaction. We may keep them for a time, because someone bigger and stronger than us told us to, but as soon as we have the chance, we will rebel and reject them. That’s why we are told to “get the truth and never sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.” The 30 wise sayings are not wisdom in and of themselves. They are the byproduct of wisdom. They are wise because they have come from a wise God and through the life experiences of wise men and women. We are told to get discipline, because without it we will never be able to follow the counsel in this book. We need good judgment, because without it we will never understand or appreciate the value of following the advice found on the pages of the book of Proverbs, or anywhere else in the Bible for that matter.

There comes a time when we no longer have to say, “don’t!” to our children as much as used to. Why? Because they have grown in wisdom, discipline and understanding. They have reached a point where they understand the reason behind the restriction. They have grown wise in the ways of the world. For some of us, reading this list of 30 wise sayings leaves us nodding our head in agreement because we already know the truth found in them. Others of us may read them and think, “This is hard stuff, I don’t know if I can pull it off or if I even agree with it.” They sound restrictive and unattractive to many of us. Because we lack wisdom. We need understanding. We are short on discernment. And all these things come from God. We need to get to know Him better. We need to know His heart so that we can see the truth contained in His Word. When our children are young and we tell them “don’t!,” they think we’re mean. But as they grow older and get to know us better, they realize just how much we love them and have their best interest in mind. The same is true with God.

Father, at the end of the day, I need to understand just how much You love me. I need to see life through Your eyes, with the help of Your wisdom, with Your understanding, and assisted by Your discernment. While so much of what this world offers up seems attractive and appealing, it is dangerous and could do me harm. I need to trust You when You say, “don’t!” I need wisdom, understanding and discernment to see life and your rules for living life in the right way. I need to know Your heart. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Proverbs 22

Trust In the Lord.

“I am teaching you today – yes, you – so you will trust in the Lord.” – Proverbs 22:19 NLT

The book of Proverbs is not just some compendium of ancient wisdom writings. While Solomon wrote and collected many of these sayings from the wise men of his day and from those of the past, the real hero of this book is the Lord. This was not just a book of wise sayings meant to fill the heads of its readers and provide them with some self-help tips for living more successful lives. This was a book about God and man’s relationship with Him. The wisdom Solomon talks about is God’s wisdom. The understanding, discernment, knowledge and common sense he describes and encourages his readers to seek come from one place and one place only – God. Solomon wants his readers to hear his words and listen to them, but he has an ultimate reason behind his pleas. He wants them to trust in the Lord. He wants them to put their confidence in God. The sayings found in the book of Proverbs reveal the truth of God and expose the lies of this world. They paint an accurate picture of reality. They provide practical, real-life advice about everyday affairs because they reveal truth as God sees it and life as God intends it. While the world takes advantage of the poor or simply disregards or ignores them, God says they have value and are to be protected and provided for. God tells us that children are born fools and require persistent, aggressive training. God exposes the truth about immorality and the danger it poses to us when we lack His wisdom and discernment. God tells us the truth about everything from money and relationships to the value of a good reputation.

But the point of it all is that we might place our confidence in God. We need to trust Him and nothing else. This world is deceitful, distracting, and potentially dangerous. Without Him, we are incapable of surviving in this hostile environment. Left to our own devices we will make unwise choices, and fail to see life as it really is. Many of the sayings in the book of Proverbs make perfectly good sense, while others seem nonsensical or even untrue. Many of the warnings against the wicked never seem to come true in daily life. They seem to prosper and succeed, not suffer. But we need to trust God when He tells us that their way leads to death and destruction. When we read that “true humility and the fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor and long life” (Proverbs 22:4 NLT), we are tempted to question the truth of a statement like that. We can easily conclude that it’s not true because we have yet to see it played out in our own lives. But we need to trust God. We need to believe that He will honor those who humbly place their trust in Him – on His terms and in His timing.

When God tells us not to make friends with angry people, we need to trust Him. When He tells us NOT to guarantee another person’s debt, we need to trust Him. When He tells us not to cheat our neighbor or attempt to take advantage of another person through deceit or trickery, we need to trust Him. We he tells us He will defend the poor and deal harshly with those who exploit them, we need to trust that He will do what He says. Think of it this way. When are children are young, we give them instructions. We teach them and expect them trust us and do what we say. We have their best interest in mind. We tell them to stay away from the street and not play near it. But it looks so tempting to them. They see no danger in it. But their well-being is dependent on them trusting us. When we tell them not to touch a hot stove, we want them to trust us so that they will not encounter the potential pain associated with their action. But sometimes they refuse to listen and they go ahead and do what they want to do. And they suffer as a result. God knows that is best for us. He is all-wise, all-knowing and all-loving. Through the Proverbs He is giving us His insights into life. He is providing with wisdom for life. But we need to trust Him and rely on His word – even when it may not make sense or appears as if it will rob us of pleasure. Trust Him, because He is trustworthy.

Father, thank You that You are always looking out for my best interest. You love me and are always trying to instruct me and provide me with Your truth. I know I don’t always listen or obey. I don’t always trust You or believe that Your way is best, because I too often do things my way instead. Forgive me. Continue to teach me. May Your Spirit continue His process of prompting me and empowering me to do Your will, Your way. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Proverbs 21

Leave the Results to God.

“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” – Proverbs 21:31 NLT

I come from the do-it-yourself generation. We are self-sufficient, independent free agents who don’t need anyone or anything in our lives. We have been trained to pick ourselves up by our own boot straps and deal with our problems on our own. We have been taught to gut it up and get it done. Even as believers we tend to have a lone wolf mentality that discounts our need for others, including God. Even our spiritual formation is our job. It is all up to us. And some of us have gotten really good at living the Christian life without God. But at the end of the day, we have got to learn that the victory belongs to the Lord. It is all up to Him. We cannot live the Christian life without His help or apart from His strength. Even all the pithy proverbs we have been reading are impossible to live out apart from Him. We can’t find wisdom without Him. We will never have understanding apart from Him. We will never really experience true success in life without God’s help. It is impossible to be godly without God.

So, do we have our role to play in all of this? Sure. Just as verse 31 says, you have to prepare the horse for battle. You have to get ready for what is headed your way, but you also have to recognize that the outcome is completely up to God. We cannot dictate or determine outcomes. Even our best efforts and careful planning cannot guarantee success. Only God can do that. We can’t do it ourselves. We can’t live the Christian life alone or on our own. A big part of living the Christian life is learning to trust God for the outcomes of life. We can do everything we know to do to raise godly kids, but we are completely incapable of raising godly kids. We don’t have what it takes to produce godliness in our children. Only God can do that. But we are to do our part. We are to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Then we are to leave the results up to Him. We have to trust Him for the victory. We have to let Him fight our battles. We have to depend on Him, which requires that we stop trying so hard trying to be independent.

The victory is up to God. Do you believe that today or are you still trying to win your own battles in your own strength? God does not need your help. That doesn’t mean that God absolves you from all effort or involvement. You have your part to play and your job to do, but the outcome is always up to Him. Rest in that assurance. Prepare for battle knowing that He goes before you and will be behind you. The outcome is in His hands and it is assured.

Father, may I learn more and more that You have the battles of my life completely in control. I do not need to worry, fret, or grow anxious. I simply need to prepare myself for the battle, then watch You work. You will use me. You will allow me to play a part, but the outcome will be completely up to You. The results do not rest on my shoulders. Thank You. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Proverbs 20b

The Danger of Duplicity.

“False weights and unequal measures – the Lord detests double standards of every kind.” – Proverbs 20:10 NLT

God hates hypocrisy, and so should we. Yet the double standard is not only tolerated in our society, it is admired in some cases. It has become an art form. Living the lie and masquerading as something other than what we truly are has become common place – even among Christians. And while we may fool others by our pretense and pretending, we never fool God. He sees all and He knows all. He is not impressed by our outward displays of righteousness or our Oscar-worthy performances that impress the crowds around us. He can spot duplicity and deceit of all kinds – even when we are trying to deceive others that we are truly good. God desires honesty and integrity among His people. He wants us to say what we mean and mean what we say. He wants us to keep our word and to live in such a way that our behavior is a true indication of our hearts. Dishonesty has no place in the life of a follower of Christ. Instead, “the godly walk with integrity” (Proverbs 207 NLT). The Hebrew word for integrity is tom, and it means wholeness or completeness. It can convey the idea of simplicity of mind. It is a mind with no deceit, a mind opposed to mischief and misrepresentation. A life of integrity is a life of wholeness, health and soundness. To live with integrity as a believer is to live your WHOLE life in a holy manner. It is to give God complete control over every area of your life – not just the convenient ones.

When the Proverbs talk about false weights and unequal measures, it is describing a form of double standard that is aimed at others. It is designed to take unfair advantage of another person by deceiving them. It pictures someone selling something to another person, but doing so by use of inaccurate weights and measures that makes the buyer think he is getting more than he is really paying for. It is using deception to gain an advantage. And while you may fool the other person and benefit from your actions, God is watching and He is totally opposed to such actions – especially among His people. And in time, a life of duplicity will be found out. “Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right” (Proverbs 20:11 NLT). As believers we are to have one standard, not two. We are to live according to God’s standard. There is no place for a double-standard in our lives. Yet for many of us, duplicity is a daily companion. We have learned to live the lie, not intending to hurt those around us, but deceiving them all the same. When we act as if all is well and our lives are care-free, yet we are struggling with doubts and troubles of all kinds, we are being duplicitous. We are being dishonest. When we try to impress others with outward displays of spirituality, when on the inside we are wrestling with our beliefs, we are being duplicitous. When we preach to our kids about the importance of God and His Word, but we rarely spend time in it ourselves, we are being hypocrites. And our children are fine-tuned to spot it in our lives. God calls us to be honest, transparent, open and above board in our relationships with one another. No lying, no deceit, no duplicity, no double standards. We are to be a people of integrity. Not faking it for the sake of those around us, but honestly and openly living our lives knowing that “the Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive” (Proverbs 20:27 NLT).

Father, help me live honestly and openly before You and others. Shine Your light into my life and expose the duplicity and any double-standards that may exist. Help me to live a life of integrity, wholeness and soundness before You and others. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org