Thursday, September 28, 2006

Elements of Wisdom - Finances

"Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." (Proverbs 3:9-10)

The Lord has so much to teach us about money especially in the book of Proverbs. Someone has said: You can tell a lot about a man’s spirituality by his pocket book. This is an extremely practical way to determine one’s love for God. I will make what would look like a leap, but not really…ready…Tithing. I believe that this verse teaches us principles of giving and specifically about tithing.

When we tithe, we recognize that every monetary blessing comes from God, and we are simply returning to Him what is rightfully His. Next, God deserves our finest or our ‘firstfruits.’ The word ‘increase’ in this verse can also be translated ‘income’ (Strong). Another truth is that we can and should honor the LORD with our ‘substance’ or ‘part from our wealth or riches’ (Strong). It is really “squanderous” (mine) to not give unto the Lord. On the other hand, what a blessing it is to give unto the Lord. What rejoicing we ought to have, to be able to live with 90% of our income – along with the covenantal promises of God – and give it joyfully to the One who supplies all our needs. I am not a ‘prosperity gospel’ advocate, neither am I a proponent of ‘give to get’ mentality, rather as one man puts it: we give in order to give again. The truth of the matter is that our giving ought to be more than just tithing. As God enables and blesses us with His grace, we should grow in the area of giving as well.

Proverbs has so much to say about treasures, riches, etc. I will simply list some of my favorites – thankfully one does not have to do any deep exegesis to get the point.

Pro 8:17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
Pro 8:18 Riches and honor are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
Pro 8:19 My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.
Pro 8:20 I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:
Pro 8:21 That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

Pro 10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

Pro 11:4a Riches profit not in the day of wrath:

Pro 13:7 There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

Pro 23:5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Pro 27:24 For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?

Pro 30:8-9 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food covinient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Elements of Wisdom - Friends

"A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." (Pro. 18:24)

If you do not have friends, you have no one to blame but yourself. The verse in Proverbs is clear as can be. Friends can either be an asset or a liability. Someone said, you are who your friends are. I believe that to be true. Selecting friends is a very important choice especially in light of some verses in Proverbs:

"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." (Pro. 13:20)

"Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father." (Pro. 28:7)

The pendulum swings both ways. In one extreme some Christians avoid total contact with 'the world,' they protect themselves from 'worldly influences' therefore they do not have any associations with the 'outside' 'world.' They believe themselves to be 'separatists' when they should label themselves 'isolationists.' The other extreme is a total lack of discernment, it is a level of compromise. We don't want either extremes, rather we want to guard our friendship choices well. Friendships have differing levels, but my concern is with close friends, or even companions. We must choose our companions carefully because of the influence they exert over us. Proverbs puts it this way:

"My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." (Pro. 1:8)

We must be careful about choosing friends.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Elements of Wisdom - Filial Respect and Responsibilities

"My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:" (Pro. 1:8)

"My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:" (Pro. 6:20)

"Hearken unto thy father that begot thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old." (Pro. 23:22)

Based on these verses we can say that sons (and daughters for that matter) must be taught to honor his/her parents. Parents are to be instruments of instructions to train their children in the way he should go. We must teach them the importance of honoring their parents. In honoring our parents, we honor God. Pro. 1:8 immediately follows the fear of the LORD (v.7), thus we see that parental relationships are a priority within God's economy. Even the 10 Commandments places the honoring of father and mother immediately after man's responsibilities towards God. Proverbs has some pretty harsh statements about parental disrespect:

"He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach." (Pro. 19:26)

"Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer." (Pro. 28:24)

"There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother." (Pro. 30:11)

"The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it." (Pro. 30:17)

There are such things as 'hard cases.' But those cases are really the exemption to the rule. And I would say that even in hard cases, it is not impossible for children to sincerely honor their mom and/or dad. For the most part children advance because their parents exert their best efforts in raising them. Just as there is very little fear of God in our society today, the same is true with filial relationships. In some regards parents stand in the stead of God, especially the father of the home. Children must be taught the proper respect of parents because in doing so they are taught the proper view of God and His authority. A child who has little to no respect for his parents, will have little to no respect for any authority figure, even God Himself. And although God could save anyone, He will not save a rebel.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Elements of Wisdom - The Fear of the Lord

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Prov. 1:7)

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding." (Pro. 9:10)

The word fear carries the ideas of terror, awe and reverence. In regards to God and the things of God our attitude must be that of reverence. There is very little fear of the Lord nowadays. Many of our young people seem to lack a healthy fear of the Lord. Sometimes even jokes get carried away, thus turning into levity. Some people treat church as though it is nothing but a social club. Whatever happened to the fear of the Lord? Maybe perhaps this is why our day and age is so doctrinally insipid. In looking at the book of Proverbs we find some very practical lessons about the fear of the LORD.

1. The Fear of the LORD is foundational. (9:10) - It is the 'beginning' or the commencement of both knowledge and wisdom. Part of the Old Testament Gospel includes 'the fear of the LORD.' When you realize who God is, and how holy He is, and that He has a perfect hatred of sin (i.e. Prov. 6:16), and that He will punish sin, then the natural tendency in our hearts is to fear God. Because 'the fear of the LORD" is part of the OT Gospel, it is still part of our Gospel today. People need to repent of their sin and selfish ways. Understanding the 'fear of the LORD' is really a good reason to get saved. True genuine salvation stems from a healthy reverential fear of displeasing a Holy God. It is no wonder than when we read of men coming in contact with God (like Isaiah, Peter and John), we read of them falling down in awe or fear. God is infinitely beyond us, and we need to develop a fear of the Lord.

2. The Fear of the LORD is a choice. (1:29) We can choose to humbly obey the Lord, or we could ignore God also. In fact in 2:5 Wisdom is gained by searching for her. We must actively pursue to fear God in all of our decision making process. Remember God is not mocked.

3. The Fear of the LORD is the antithesis to evil. (8:13; 16:6) When we fear God, we stay away from sin to avoid His displeasure. One of the best lessons we could ever teach another fellow believer is to fear God, because long after we are gone, if they genuinely have a fear of God, they will 'depart from evil.'

4. The Fear of the LORD provides many blessings.
a. It prolongeth days - 10:27 - Generally this is true, but in view of eternity, only those who truly fear the Lord will prolong their days, because they will forever be with the Lord. (see also 14:27; 19:23)
b. It provides strong confidence - 14:26
c. It provides satisfaction - 19:23b (see also 23:17)
d. It provides riches, honor, and life - 22:4 - and if not in this world, then certainly in the world to come. (see also 15:16)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Elements of Wisdom - Introduction

"The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;" (Prov. 1:1)

Proverbs is a practical book on wisdom. Although there are many themes in the book, as we shall explore, there is a central theme and that is wisdom. Solomon obviously instructed his son in Proverbs, but because of sin he became a bad object lesson contradicting his God-given wisdom in multiplying wives unto himself, among other things. It is absolutely foolish to strive to teach people spiritual truths without living a life that examplifies the truth. I believe there are a few things that could be as damaging to saints as a pastor who lives a double-standard life. The same goes with a parent who desires the best for their kid and yet will not lead by example. Jesus Christ himself did not condemn what the pharisees taught, but rather warned his disciples not to follow what they do (Matt. 23:3). In other words, just like Solomon, they did not have a life that matched their "Bible" lesson. Hypocrisy is just plain ugly and God hates it.

"9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. 11 Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. 12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son." (1 Kings 11:9-12)

The book of Proverbs then is very much interested not only in head knowledge but rather in skillful practice or application of Biblical truths. As the saying goes: action speaks louder than words. Wisdom is applying Biblical principles consitently and well. It involves both hearing and doing God's Word. It is not just what is said, but also what is done. God wants us to live godly lives in a crooked world, thus demonstrating His wisdom which often contradicts the world's wisdom.

P.S. I was skimming through a 'devotional' which I believe misinterpreted and even misapplied Prov. 8 to be the Holy Spirit personified. I believe that it is ok to say that in application Christ is personified in that chapter (on the basis that Christ is the power and wisdom of God in 1 Cor. 1:24), and that in actuality it is plainly Wisdom personified. BUT to attribute Pro. 8 to the Holy Spirit I think is a stretch. Thankfully, we don't get our theology from devotionals. I am not against the use of devotionals either, just being cautious and speaking, err typing out loud.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Some thoughts on Psalm 1:2

"But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."
(Ps. 1:2)

A godly man is not just someone who is 'in the book,' rather the book is 'in' him. He considers God's Word, studies it, he is knows that it is worth reading, pondering (which is what 'meditate' means) and applying. I like to collect quaint sayings. Sometimes I even write them in the inside cover of my Bible. In thinking about this verse, a quote from someone 'anonymous' captures verse 2 rather well.

"The Bible in the hand is good,

The Bible in the mind is better,

The Bible in the heart is best,

Never rest till your good is better,

and your better is best."

Thursday, September 7, 2006

The Wise and the Foolish (concluding "Labor Day" thoughts)

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." (Matt. 7:24-27)

Sometimes it gets a little hard to decipher the wise from the foolish because they both 'work' similar activities. In this passage both men were builders. Both must have been 'hard workers.' They both must have had some type of work ethic, high expectation, and a great degree of perseverance to accomplish their building project. It wasn't until after the storm that we see whose house stands manifesting the wise choice of building ones house upon a rock, as opposed to the sand. Education is good, Christian education is even better, but having a degree or even several degrees does not necessarily mean that such a person is 'wise,' at least not in God's opinion. In 'common grace' it truly is hard to distinguish the wise from the foolish. But not when it comes to God's revealed Word. The man who truly hears and obeys God's Word is the wise one. The man who chooses to ignore God's Word is the foolish one. Everything in between may be hard to sort out, but as the adage goes 'it all comes out in the wash.' The foolish man cannot produce the inevitable results that can only stem from obedience to God's Word.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Hearing and Doing (continuing "Labor Day" thoughts)

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." (Matt. 7:24-27)

Hearing (that is to give audience to, to understand) and doing (i.e. to apply) are both important elements in building a meaningful relationship with God. The 'sayings' of Jesus Christ are the objects that we need to hear. By application we need to take great heed to the Bible, God's Holy Word. When the pastor preaches the Word (as he is instructed to do) - - it is certainly an appointment that can and should nourish our spirits. We read in the books that some rabbis (as usual), in the day and age of Christ, put so much emphasis on 'hearing' so much so that there was a debate going on whether hearing was more important than doing, or vice versa. Thankfully Jesus clarifies exactly for us that both hearing and doing are of equal importance. Preaching the Word, in my mind, accomplishes a lot. In fact, so many squabbles could be taken care of if people would just simply listen to Bible preaching. I don't know about you, but my pastor 'labors in the Word,' and I owe it to him and primarily to the Lord, to labor to listen or to hear God's Word.

The other side of the coin is simply doing or applying God's Word. This reminds me of that verse in James 1:22 "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, decieving your own selves." Of course so much can be said about this point - however, I'll just mention this simple thought: If you don't apply God's Word, no one benefits from it. This includes you, your 'neighbor' or the Lord.

Monday, September 4, 2006

"Labor Day" greetings and thoughts

I certainly hope that you are enjoying some time together with family and friends. This day is set to commemorate the 'working class' which I think is a noble thing to do. God is certainly a worker, He 'built' all things (see Heb. 3:4), and because we are created in His image, work is a neccesary part of our lives that we must submit to Him, and give Him glory in it.

In Matthew 7 at the conclusion of the "Sermon on the Mount" Jesus summarizes for us the very heart of the matter of Salvation in verses 24-27.

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

Both men were laborers, both were 'builders.' The difference is not placed on their characters nor the materials they used. I am sure it takes a great amount of training, skill, money, talent and time to build something (in this case a house). I would assume that both were hard workers. But in the end, one house stands, and the other one fell. Our efforts are a waste if we do not have Jesus Christ as the foundation upon which we build our lives.

Other verses that come to mind are Psalm 40:2 and 1 Corinthians 3:10. Anyway, Happy Labor Day!

Friday, September 1, 2006


A blog dedicated to 'hammering-out' relevant theological as well as practical issues. This site is managed by three independent Baptist pastors (Kent Brandenburg, Dave Mallinak, and Jeff Voegtlin). Check it out.