Some truths for today from Proverbs 21.
Proverbs 21:2 – Every way (or, path, journey, pattern of life) of a man is right (or, just, straight, upright, correct, ethically or morally pleasing) in his own eyes, but (contrast) the LORD weighs (or, measures, ponders, tests, or prove. It describes God’s weighing action as a process of moral evaluation) the hearts.
Regarding sacrifices (or our outward acts of worship):
Proverbs 21:3 – To do righteousness (or, blameless conduct, integrity, right actions and attitudes) and justice (or, making a right, correct judgment) is more acceptable (or, to choose, elect, decide. It denotes a choice which is based on a thorough examination and not on a knee-jerk, arbitrary whim) to the LORD than sacrifice (or, that given to God).
In other words, God’s choice is for us to act and live like Him rather than trying to buy Him off with our gifts and sacrifices.
Proverbs 21:27 – The sacrifice (or, that given to God) of the wicked (or, guilty, wrong, transgressor, criminal) is an abomination (or, worthless, unclean, disgusting, offensive); how much more when he brings it with wicked intent (or, mind, plan, device, mischievous purpose, lewdness)!
And one more, that seems to sum up the entire chapter:
Proverbs 21:30 – There is no wisdom (or, experience, skill, shrewdness) or understanding (or, insight, intelligence) or counsel (or, advice, plan, purpose, plot) against the LORD.
And why is that? Remember the rhetorical questions of 1 Corinthians 1:20: Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
Yes He has. And do you know why? It’s because, as Psalm 115:3 clearly states: “Our God is in His heavens, and He does what He pleases.” Did you catch that last phrase? It says, He (God) does what He (God) pleases. He is God. And the pseudo wise and self-inflated of our age are not.
And it shows.
The following are a few passages that specifically spoke to me this morning. Two great truths and a prayer.
First, the prayer:
Lord, help me listen to only Your voice and not blindly forge ahead in my own so-called wisdom.
Proverbs 19:21 – There are many plans (or, thoughts, intentions) in a man’s heart,
Nevertheless the LORD’s counsel (or, advice, plan, purpose)— that will stand (or, rise up, to be established, to remain).
Then, a wonderful promise from Scripture (if we meet the conditions):
Proverbs 19:23 – The fear (or, awe, reverence, profound respect) of the LORD leads to life, and (condition) he who has it (life and the fear of the Lord) will abide (or, rest, remain, stay, to make one’s home) in satisfaction (or, to be satisfied, full, abounding); He (promise) will not be visited with evil.
Finally, something God is slowly creating in my life.
Proverbs 19:11 – The discretion (or, intelligence, good sense, insight, understanding) of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook (or, pass over, to cover) a transgression.
I wonder what I will learn about Him tomorrow?
When I pray, I usually pray to Jesus.
“Why?” you ask. It’s because I can clearly see Jesus in my mind’s eye when I pray. I can see Him as a person with a personality, someone with whom I can relate. I’ve seen all the Jesus movies and have read the Gospel accounts in Scripture, so I can easily visualize Jesus the man, Jesus the person, Jesus as my friend, when I pray.
With God the Father, it gets a bit more difficult to form a mental picture of Him when I pray. In the Old Testament He’s revealed as fire and smoke and loud thunder and lightning flashing all around Mt. Sinai. He’s somewhat scary, but I pray to Him nonetheless. Why? Because in the New Testament Jesus calls Him Father and reveals a deeper, personal, more intimate side of the Father that was previously unknown. So for me as a father, I can comfortably pray to Him as my Father, the perfect Father, the only Father, as my Father in heaven (Matt. 6:9).
But when it comes to the Holy Spirit, things get even more murky. How can I visualize and relate to the Holy Spirit when I pray? When I think of Him I don’t view Him as a person like Jesus or the Father. Do you? He’s more like a gentle breeze or a soft breath or some power or force or energy emanating from the Father or the Son, as an extension of themselves. He’s something invisible or Someone I can’t see yet I’m fully aware of the effects of His presence. He’s much like the wind. I can hear and feel the wind blowing and I know it’s there and it’s powerful and uncontrollable and sometimes frightening, but I can’t see the wind with my eyes or hold the wind in my hands or touch the wind with my fingers.
So it is with the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, I never truly relate to the Holy Spirit in prayer. More often than not I find myself asking Him to give me power to pray to the Father and the Son. And when He does and I experience His presence in my prayers, I never thank Him for His presence. I thank the Father and the Son for giving me the “power” or “anointing” or “presence” of the Holy Spirit, like He’s some tangible, tradeable commodity, but I never thank the Holy Spirit for giving Himself to me.
And why is that?
Would the Holy Spirit Please Reveal Himself
Could it be I’ve eagerly embraced some false teachings about Him in the church I attend and the seminary from which I graduated? Or, maybe I’m just afraid of Him and what He may do in my life? Or, is it because I don’t want to end up like others who are self-proclaimed Holy Spirit fanatics and head off to “healing crusades” to be slain in the Spirit by some charlatan with a Rolex watch and a bad haircut?
Or, could it simply be I don’t know the Holy Spirit as well as I think I know Jesus and have denied, in my mind and in my theology, the reality of His personhood and His personality? Maybe I’ve made Him into a non-person, an entity, a thing. And by my lack of intimate knowledge of Him and my lack of desire to get to know Him more, I have relegated Him to the status of some second-class impersonal force coming from God and not as God Himself. He is the name of something I want from the Father, a power or force or energy, to do the will of God in my life, but I have not viewed Him as co-equal with the Father and the Son even though I theologically believe Him to be so in my mind and doctrine.
In other words, I want what the Holy Spirit has to give me. I want what He possesses. I want the gifts He has to bring, the gifts of the Spirit. And yet, sadly, at the same time, I don’t want the Giver of those very gifts. It’s like I tell Him, “Empty your pockets and put all you have on the table and walk away. I’m only interested in what you have to give me and not in who you are.”
And that just breaks my heart. Does it yours?
Who is the Holy Spirit to You?
Have you even felt the same about the Holy Spirit? Have you, maybe through misinformation or apathy or neglect or fear, treated Him as something less than God Himself? Have you, like me, disrespected the very One who lives inside us as the “Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance” in Him? (Eph. 1:13-14).
Have you ever thanked Him for the things He has done in your life? Or, like me, do you reserve your thanks for the Father and Son and treat the Spirit like an orphaned, second-place, also-ran?
If so, there’s so much we need to learn about the third Person in the Godhead. There’s so much Jesus wants us to know about Him. In fact, Jesus said it was better for us if He physically left this earth and returned to the Father (John 16:7). Why? Because if He did, He would send the One we ignore the most to be with us and in us forever (John 14:16). The Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit.
So join with me as we discover the personality and personhood of the God who lives inside us?
And just who is that God? It’s not the Father. He’s sitting on His throne in heaven. And it’s not Jesus. For He is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Romans 8:34). No, the One who lives inside of us and guides and directs us is none other than the very One we choose to keep at a distance, in the safe-zone, at arms reach, and out of our personal space.
And His name is the Helper, the Comforter, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit— God Himself.
In continuing from yesterday’s post, let me reassert my belief that we, as Christians in America today, are in the same place the Jews found themselves in 1935 in Nazi Germany. We now see vicious hatred for anything that speaks of Biblical truth and the rule of law in this country. Why? Because judicial integrity has been greatly compromised.
In essence, the Republic we’ve all come to love and respect and call home is no more.
“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
Edmund Burke once said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
And Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel also said, almost prophetically, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”
Let that not be said of the church today.
For the next couple of days I will post the timeline of events in Nazi Germany beginning in 1933 until the start of WWII. That’s just six short years. Look at how quickly the Nazis consolidated power and enacted laws that first marginalized, and then systematically tried to destroy the Jews. And see if you, like me, can find shocking parallels of the same agenda being carried out today against the church and Christianity in our own country.
Read these timelines and take heart. Learn from history. Glean wisdom and understanding from the mistakes and failures of those who have gone before.
And remember, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
Let’s pray that cannot be said of the church.
Timeline of Events in Nazi Germany in 1934
January 1st – Jewish holidays were removed from the German calendar.
January 20th – A law was introduced “for the ordering of national labour.” Decisions made in the workplace were weighted in favour of the management and against the workers.
January 24th – Alfred Rosenberg was appointed ideological supervisor of the Nazi Party. Jews were banned from the German Labor Front.
January 26th – A German-Polish 10 year non-aggression pact was signed.
January 30th – The independence of the state government was abolished. The “Law for the Reconstruction of the Reich” was passed. Hitler publicly insisted that Germany will not be deterred from its program of rearmament.
March 21st – The “Battle for Work” started.
April 1st – Heinrich Himmler appointed head of the SS.
April 11th – Pact of the Deutschland: Hitler persuaded the top officials of the army and navy to back his bid to succeed Hindenburg as president, by promising to “diminish” the three-million-man plus SA and greatly expand the regular Army and Navy.
April 20th – Himmler was made Acting Chief of the Prussian Gestapo.
April 24th – A People’s Court was established to deal with treasonable offences. There is no trial by jury and no right to appeal.
April 25th – Germany passed law restricting college enrollment of Jews.
May 1st – Julius Streicher’s Nazi periodical, Der Stürmer, one of Germany’s most popular periodicals and a favorite of Hitler, reminded its readers that during the Middle Ages, the Jews were accused of committing ritual murder of Christian children and of using their blood for religious ritual purposes.
May 16th – German officer corps endorsed Hitler to succeed the ailing President Hindenburg.
May 17th – Jews were no longer allowed to participate in national health insurance.
June 17th – Von Papen, Vice-Chancellor, denounced what the Nazi Party had introduced into Germany.
June 20th – The SS was made independent from the SA and put in the hands of Himmler who was appointed Reichsfűhrer of the SS.
June 25th – Austrian Nazis murdered Austrian President Engelbert Dollfuss in the hope that the Austrian Nazi Party could take control of the country.
June 26th – Von Papen was appointed German envoy to Austria.
June 30th – The Night of the Long Knives. On pretext of suppressing an alleged SA putsch, much of the brownshirt leadership were arrested and executed. Schleicher and other political enemies were murdered. Papen briefly imprisoned; between 150 and 200 were killed. The SS, formerly part of the SA, now comes to the forefront.
July 4th – An Inspectorate of Concentration Camps was established, headed by Theodor Eicke.
July 13th – Defending the purge, Hitler declared that to defend Germany he has the right to act unilaterally as “supreme judge” without resort to courts.
July 22nd – Jews are prohibited from getting legal qualifications.
July 31st – In Germany, 30,000 are now interned.
August 2nd – President Hindenburg died. Hitler declared himself both Chancellor and President. The armed forces in response to the Night of the Long Knives swore an oath of loyalty to Hitler. Hjalmar Schacht was appointed Minister of Economics. Hitler now becomes Fuhrer.
August 19th – Hitler received a 90 percent “Yes” vote from German voters approving his new powers.
October 1st – Hitler secretly ordered expansion of the army, navy and the creation of the air force, breaking the Treaty of Versailles.
October 8th – A Winter Relief scheme was established.
Next: 1935 in Nazi Germany
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The following are some key points from Joe McKeever’s insightful article The Church’s Dirty Little Secret which answers the question:
Why does the church— which is the institution which we Christians should respect the most— end up being the least respected by many in the church? And why is the pastor the least respected professional of all?
The article points out the following reasons:
1. They, the spiritually immature in the church, see the church as a human institution belonging to them.
2. They see the pastors as their employees, there to do their bidding and accountable to them. (I actually had a deacon once tell me, “Pastor, I was here before you came and I’ll be here when you’re gone.”)
3. They see God’s work as something the professionals do and their roles as volunteers when it’s convenient and easy. Ah, it’s the old, “Let the hired holy-man do the hard stuff, I’ll just buy my ticket and watch from the cheap seats.”
4. They see their contributions (money, service, teaching, etc.) as voluntary and not required.
5. They see their church’s reputation in the community as irrelevant and unity as beside the point.
6. They see their childish behavior as no one’s business but their own. Poor little boo-boo kitty.
7. They see themselves as the center of their own universe and think everything revolves around them. In fact, just this morning I read the following:
Q: How does a narcissist screw in a light bulb?
A: He holds the bulb and stands still while the world revolves around him. Sad, but true.
Finally, the article sums up the magnitude of the problem by quoting a pastor, fresh out of seminary, serving his first church. He says:
“Church is the only place on earth where people can throw hissy fits and get away with it.” Ouch.
And we all know, church life is not meant to be like this.
If you, like me, find yourself in a church family that functions like a family, you are indeed blessed. And if you don’t, what are you prepared to do about it?
Don’t you think it’s about time you packed your bags and caught the first train out of Laodicea?