Monthly Archives: August 2018

Proverbs -Daily Living all Month

I know the title is a bit weird, but when we look at the book of Proverbs, there are 31 of them which easily transfers to a month of reading.  When we come out of the Praise and Worship of the Psalms we tend to feel exhilarated a bit. Proverbs brings us back to reality. The book of Proverbs is the work of the Son of King David by Bathsheba – Solomon. Surprised, we shouldn’t be, God uses what everyone else says is nothing [1 Corinthians 1:20-31]

Proverbs, written by the wisest man ever is the daily application of the Word of God. In our culture today we have books and reports, investigations and research galore. The bible says that knowledge will increase and men will go to and fro, their hearts failing them for the stress – my paraphrase. So what is the difference between knowledge, wisdom, instruction, and application? Knowledge is just the awareness of facts and ideas. People have all kinds of knowledge, yet no nothing of how to apply it, much less understand what the information means. Wisdom is the understanding the WHAT and the WHY of knowledge. Wisdom does not come cheap, as we find in the Proverbs.  Instruction is the How the information and understanding fit together to achieve results. The last variable needed to put it all together is APPLICATION to life. I know many people who read a lot, know so much more than I and understand the significance of the information, yet can’t seem to get the life application for themselves.

Solomon does a great job with trying to communicate what God has blessed him with from his prayer. I don’t want to get too far ahead, but the book of Ecclesiastes was a test by Solomon to find out if there was anything in the world that rivaled God. He was in position to do so having abundant resources and unlimited opportunities. In the end he determined – Serve God all else was futile.

Our book at hand – Proverbs is a daily living manual for the believer. I often had to tell my girls growing up that “all that glitters isn’t gold.” Proverbs gives us the reality check for many issues and vices found in the fallen world. Sin can look so tantalizing, never revealing the full repercussions of sinful behavior in the end. Solomon is straight forwards about prostitutes and flirting by “ladies of the evening.” Solomon had 1000 wives and concubines. Yet he knows that his dad had an adulterous affair. I am not saying Bathsheba was a woman on the prowl, I am saying that men fall for the fleshly beauty of a woman! When Solomon writes about the wiles of woman and how they can tempt men – he is warning men STAY WAY! In our current day we have heard of so many men that have failed over wrongful sexual relationships in and out of the Church.

Solomon gives insight in to daily activities, then brings us the penalty and effects of participating is such behavior. Throughout the month we will be looking a so many of life’s vices and their failings effect on mankind.

On a personal note – Proverbs alone will beat you up about your life. That is why so many advocate reading other scripture so one doesn’t get beat into the ground. Again, Proverbs will hit us right where we live-if convicted, then repentance and restitution is necessary – readers beware, Proverbs will expose your life!!

Another way I could put the effect on its reader is – reproof. Read Proverbs in your prayer closet – get the work done that is indicated by the Holy Spirit. It is easy for us to say that we are okay – we haven’t done any of those things – Aright, then please read Matthew 5:21-48; then tell me you are perfect!

As we read, capture the Warning and the Application Solomon gives to us – prevention, abstention; good advice is hard to come by these days – don’t miss this time to reflect, repent and be restored. Oh that we had people talk to us about these things so many years ago!


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Hallelujah Chorous

We finish the Psalms this week, well almost – Psalm 150 is next week. But the point of the Psalms reading this week is about the crescendo that comes at the end of 150 Psalms – a shout of Hallelujah comes resonating from the Psalmist. David has given us a birds-eye view of his prayers and relationship with the LORD. The last fifty Psalms are called the Ascents and Halle; these were used to worship the Lord during the various feast celebrations. I noticed with these final praise Psalms there is almost a personalizing of creation. In Psalm 147:16-18 we have an extended look at the various ways water can be seen – further displaying the creative and artistic ability of our Creator God. Psalm 148: 7-12 gives a running flow of creation depicted in Genesis 1, and creations Praising of their creator. It almost seems like the Psalmist is trying to give a human personality to creation. Yet we have to know that Romans 8:20-22 tells us that creation groans and longs to for the day of its restoration. So a anthromorphistic connotation to creation besides mankind really isn’t out of bounds theologically.

In these final Psalms, we have a continuous Praising and singing – I have been asked “what will we do it heaven? Just Sing?” With all the music and worship wars here in American churches the last 30 years – we will have to come to grips that our audience is God and that He loves repeated choruses! See Revelation 5 and Isaiah 6.  The pleasure of our Lord is what we should seek. The last fifty Psalms are there on purpose – so many times we find that there is annotation about many of the Psalms – “Written for the Choir Director.” Today we have many song writers using the Psalms and other scripture for the lyrics of their songs. Yet I hear too often – I don’t like that music – Why can’t we have hymns!? Believers should sing the Word back to God. It is in the music sang for the LORD in Worship that prepares our hearts for the spoken word through pastors and teachers. If we are so focused on whether we like a song or not and get fixated on our displeasure – we have missed out on the pleasure of the Lord hearing our [your] voice sing praises to Him.

Pleasure – the greatest pleasure should not be our own; but the pleasure of someone else. Yes we need to be pleased with worship – but not to the point that it becomes all about us – musical likes and dislikes is deeper that personal tastes. The song is used to stir the hearts of those signing, and bring pleasure to the hearers. Make a joyful noise! Sometimes I think that we haven’t really gone too far – I remember the music wars in the 60’s and 70’s between parents and children. I’m talking about secular music – those that came out of the 30’s and 40’s had their own style of music – when something else came along – many times it was rejected because it wasn’t what people were use to. Do we really want to spend out time with God complaining about music that He loves to hears – yes God loves the music of all people – especially when it is praising from the Heart of His Child!

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Hunted and Haunted

In Psalms 140-144 we again get the prayerful writings of King David. The prayers are two-fold for David. He knows he is but dust; he is a fallen man and sinned against the God who continually loves him. When we pray and seek the face of God in our prayers; the Holy Spirit brings to our minds the sin and rebellion in our hearts and thoughts. These thoughts can and do haunt us for we know, God is righteous and He demands holiness; and we fail miserably. Yet he is also a hunted man for King Saul pursues him out of jealousy. It is one thing for believers to be haunted by their continual sins; past and present – quite another to know our conscience is clear and yet we encounter turmoil and tribulation. This is natural for the believer; yet we balk at the slightest inconvenience and complain. David in Psalm 142 cries out to God to hear him and answer his prayers. David who has been anointed by Samuel to be Israel’s next king is being sought after by King Saul. The Spirit of God has left Saul – it only took a matter of about 18 months for Saul [the people’s choice] to fail terribly and experience the loss of God with him. Yet Saul will continue to reign for another 10 years or so. David has to wait; he knows the God has made him king. Saul has tried many times to kill David – the people are enthralled  with David – “Saul has killed his thousands, but David his ten thousands.”  David has had at least two occasions to kill King Saul – See 1 Samuel 24. Saul is relieving himself in the cave opening; even David’s soldiers tell him to kill Saul – saying that God has delivered him into David’s hand. David only cuts off a piece of Saul’s robe. David says he will not come against the Lord’s anointed. I wonder how many pastors wish that sentiment from their congregations! But let’s look at this a bit more. David is in the cave because he is being hunted by Saul and his army. What has David done wrong? nothing the sadistic thoughts and raging jealousy of Saul are the reason David is on the run. How many of us could be like David? Our enemies are delivered right into our hands; yet we do nothing to harm those that mean evil to us?

In Psalm 143 David demonstrates an honorable humility in the way he understands that none could stand before God, righteous in our own right. Verse three revives the haunting of our sins. I had a time some years ago that the haunting and hunting came after me. It was relentless, I had nowhere to hide. The enemy pursued after all day and into the night. The enemy was right in his allegations; I was guilty; I was rebellious and had no defense. Satan is like that; he seek to kill and destroy – John 10:10a. After a period of some 38 days of unrentless conviction and accusations from the devil, I broke. When I say I broke, I mean I came undone. I was a helpless heap of humanity; in my brokenness my Hope, My Savior and Lord came to me in that most darkest hour of my life and “touched Me.” Jesus simply said – “Jim this is why I died for.” The greatest peace shot thought my flesh and bones. Before I was just trying to keep from going to Hell when I die. But now I was compelled and driven to live – yet not me living but Jesus IN me! I didn’t quite understand what the “Dark Night of my Soul” was all about for a few years. Then it came to me I was the prize. Satan desired to paralyze me for my past. Jesus liberated me from it. David was sought after by an enemy; to destroy him – Why – because of the possibilities of what God could do in and through us. I am not a King David, nor are you. But God has fought and won your soul! David turned to the LORD – you are my rock, my shield, my defender, in you and you alone do I take my refuge.

There are people I deal with daily that are being attacked, haunted and hunted by the Adversary. I would say to you don’t give up. Continue to live in Christ’s righteousness. Do not be overcome with evil – but do good to those who persecute you. Jesus has won – do not let the dark nights of your soul become a “haunting cave.” David went on after Saul died to be the greatest King Israel ever had. Had David dealt with Saul in the flesh I believe he would never have been the great King that he was. Always remember when the “why” keeps coming to you about your life situations,, realize God is in the middle of your situation.


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An Open Book

Psalm 135-139, specifically Psalm 139

A Man After God’s Own Heart –  have heard this statement about King David for years. I remember wondering why did God honor David so? A shepherd boy last of Jesse’s children; yet elevated to position of King over all of Israel. It will be upon “David’s throne” that the Lion of Judah – Jesus Christ will reign; honored by having 19 kings of one dynasty from the line of David sit upon the throne of divided Israel. Yet when I read the Old Testament about David I find many times that he failed. He failed to deal with Ammon’s rape of Tamar; he failed to address Absalom’s rebellion and attempt to usurp the kingdom from him; we know of the moral failure with Uriah and Bathsheba. Even Joab went somewhat unpunished for siding with Absalom against David. So why did God honor David so? Truly David was a man after God’s own heart. When we read the Psalms from this week there is a underlining position which David always returned to; that of being known by God and desiring intimacy with God. David was an open book before the LORD.

I visited Israel back in 1993; I was surprised by the memorial established with the sarcophagus of David. People thronged to it to worship and pray at this very old memorial setting. We know that many prophecies that are attributed to David find their fulfillment in Jesus. We know of the fear of the Lord versus the fear of Goliath; David trusted God even though there were many times of testing. David was exalted for his bravery and honor brought to Israel in defeating the Philistines. David was a human like all of us, yes he had many failings – but amidst the failing David knew that it was the right relationship – transparent relationship that was his strength.  We could look at Psalm 51 along with 139 and find that one shows a broken heart; the other 139; begs for transparency and intimacy. I wonder if we are willing to be an “Open Book” before the Lord? I don’t find this spirit within to many people. Most of the time we spend more effort in trying to hide our true self from others and even think we can hide from our Lord Jesus.

In Psalm 51; after being approached by Nathan about his sin; David breaks with conviction and repentance over his sin. Restoration is the order of the day in Psalm 51; David knows the struggle and conviction he has endured in the year between his sin with Bathsheba and Nathan’s rebuke. One can hear the gut wrenching ethos from David’s heart – search me, purify me, cleanse me, wash me, make me, create within me, restore me, deliver me Oh God for I have sinned against You.

I find that as a believer, we all struggle with sin; we know our lives should be “better than they are” we long for deliverance over our habitual sins; we practice Christianity and go to Church, read or bibles and try to muster up the strength to overcome our past and current sin. Our sins haunt us, they plague us and keep us living in fear of discovery. David didn’t care what others thought; I do not find cover up in him. Psalm 51 – a broken and contrite heart are the sacrifices David brings to God for his sins.

In Psalm 139 there is a different tone; David is keenly aware of the omniscience of God; it is ludicrous to try to hide from God, so don’t waste energy on trying. Here we find that David is intimately aware of the Presence of God not only in the created realm, but in the thoughts and intents of our hearts. David is overwhelmed by the “behind the scenes” work of God in his life. When we look back at our lives; we should be awed not by the things we have accomplished, but what God has done in and through us despite our condition as fallen humanity. I believe that we are all born at a very particular time in history; God has brought us together for “Such a time as this.” As David was God’s instrument then – we are to be today. David continually ask God to “search him, Try or test him, know my anxious thought – see if there is any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting Way.”

An Open Book – a well read book, some of our lives are like an Unopened Book; others are like a dog-eared well used book that has been read over and over again. Yet I believe we all should be the latter book – God knows that we do not live pristine lives – my challenge to all of us; will we be an OPEN or CLOSED book? A man after God’s own heart requires a heart that is open to all that God desires for us and a transparent intimacy with our Savior daily.


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Humble dependency

Psalm 131 will be the focus of this blog entry. Looking at Psalm 131; I couldn’t help but think of the line in a Clint Eastwood movie that says “a man has got to know his limits.” At the crux of this Psalm 131 we find humility. Now I don’t know about anyone else but this is the hardest of all Christian attributes to gain and maintain. I guess the reason is we like to have our egos stroked with compliments and praise. Being puffed up or arrogant usually doesn’t bode well for people in ministry. As I write this blog I have read several articles and reports about Bill Hybels and Willow Creek. To say this is devastating and disappointing is an understatement. Willow Creek has been a stalwart organization and ministry for thousands of believers. Bill Hybels has written great books on “seeker sensitive” groups. I was once overly impressed with Hybels when he discovered that Willow Creek after being evaluated was a “mile wide and an inch deep.” Hybels shut down the Willow Creek machine, for in the evaluation, it was discovered that the discipleship which was the flagship of Willow Creek was woefully substandard. I though very highly of Hybels for recognizing and shutting down operations until they fixed the problem. I don’t know what to say about all the allegations, so I won’t comment. Needless to say Bill is not the first nor the last of spiritual leaders to fall into sin. The bible is filled with men and women who have “skeletons” in the past. I recent wrote another article indicating that pastors and ministry people cannot allow the thought that they are bigger than the ministry itself. Others within my own denomination just this year have caused great hurt and disappointment. Frank Page, and Paige Patterson are two that quickly come to mind, I continue to pray for both of these men – knowing that except the grace of God it could be me!. Man is a sinner, we have a fallen nature; we must always remember that we are only one decision away from great failure.

In Psalm 131; the humility and genuine dependency on the strength and provision of the Lord ring with confidence ONLY in the Lord. Paul said he had learned that in whatever state to therewith to be content. But the writer here brings more than just a confidence in God, but also a great intimacy in relationship with the LORD. The picture of a child nestling a mother’s breast depicts this intimacy. The Psalmist goes on to describe this dependent intimacy exposing his heart of humility by not getting “airs” about himself; not boasting; to have haughty eyes or an arrogant heart. One of the decisions of most importance in ministry is to know what to engage in and what to stay away from. The Psalmist intentionally stays away from matters that “are too big for me.”

Too often in ministry there is the enticement to be known publicly, to have others know your name and to “be on the platform” at conferences. This all in a worldly sense tells you that you have arrived. Francis Chan did something a few years ago, that absolutely further raised my appreciation for him. He found that the “speaker’s circuit and platform personality” world got bigger and consumed him. He resigned his church, left the circuit and went to Indonesia for a year. He didn’t even preach for six months! He said he felt overwhelmed by it all and had to stop. Scripture says “woe unto you when all the world thinks highly of you.” Pride before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Knowing that this Psalm was written to be sung as Israel ascended to the Temple to worship, reminds us that we are not God. Idolatry worshipping something or someone other than God. We are but dust, that’s a good thought to remember when with more highly of ourselves than we ought [Romans 12:3].

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