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Thread: In step

  1. #1561
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    Wisdom is a Person

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 2:12-22

    "Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men '" (v.12)

    We touched yesterday on the thought that in the book of Proverbs, particularly in the first nine chapters, wisdom and foolishness are seen as persons. Jesus was also using the device of personification when He said in Matthew 11:19, "But wisdom is proved right by her actions."

    Some have thought that the personification of wisdom in the Scriptures indicates that wisdom is to be seen as a personality, perhaps a member of the angelic hierarchy, who visits men and women and imparts to them divine wisdom, but this, in my opinion, is taking things too far.

    The writer is simply using a literary device to make a point. However, it is the opinion of most evangelical commentators that the device of personification as it relates to wisdom is to prepare the way for the apostle Paul's great statement in 1 Corinthians 1:24 that Christ is "the power of God and the wisdom of God."

    If this is so, then it suggests that the divine purpose underlying the personification of wisdom in Proverbs is not simply to acquaint us with an absorbing set of rules or helpful suggestions by which to run our lives, but to hint that true wisdom lies in a Person, that Person being none other than our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Christianity moves beyond the wisdom of Solomon, which, by the way, commends itself to non-Christians as well as Christians, and points to the fact that the highest wisdom comes from a relationship with the One who is the fount of all wisdom - Jesus. Knowing the principles of wisdom is one thing; knowing the Person in whom all wisdom resides is another.

    Prayer:
    O Father, how can I sufficiently thank You that by faith I am linked to the source of all wisdom - the Lord Jesus Christ? Let the wonder of this relationship - I am in Him and He is in me - sink deep into my soul today. Amen.

  2. #1562
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    Wise fools

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 4:1-9

    "Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you." (v.6)

    Having understood that the main message of the book of Proverbs is to provide us with wisdom for living, it is time now to ask ourselves: What exactly is wisdom? How is it to be defined? Some say wisdom is synonymous with knowledge, and use the two words interchangeably.

    There is, however, a world of difference between knowledge and wisdom, as writers and philosophers down the ages have pointed out. Knowledge is the capacity to comprehend and retain what one is taught; wisdom is the ability to put that knowledge to best effect.

    If knowledge is the same thing as wisdom, then, as Paul Larsen points out, "There are many 'wise' men who are fools." Our colleges and universities cram information into the minds of thousands of people, so that they come out knowing a good deal about such things as the solar system, microbiology, bacteriology, psychology, the laws of physics, art and so on, but knowledge by itself does not stop them from making a mess of their lives.

    In the United States, a second year university or high school student is called a "sophomore," which is the Greek word for "a wise fool." How revealing. When we get into the higher stages of education, we think that we know it all, but if this attitude is not changed, then we will soon demonstrate what it means to be a fool.

    A "fool" in Proverbs is not someone who can't pass a simple literacy or numeracy test; he is someone who thinks he knows what life is all about but doesn't. Those whom the world recognizes as "wise" may, from heaven's standpoint, be the biggest fools.

    Prayer:
    Father, I see now what Paul meant when he said "we are fools for Christ" (1 Cor. 4:10). My Christian lifestyle may appear foolish to those around me, but help me never to forget that from Your perspective it is the highest wisdom. Amen.

  3. #1563
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    The "Wisdom Literature"

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 5:15-23

    "For a man's ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths." (v.21)

    We have just a few more important general points to make concerning Proverbs before settling down to focus on our theme - the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

    Proverbs is often referred to as being part of the "Wisdom Literature" - those books which are associated with a class of people called "wise men" or "sages," an important group in the life of ancient Israel.

    The Old Testament consists of three sections - the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings - answering to the three groups of leaders outlined in Jeremiah 18:18: "... for the teaching of the law by the priest will not be lost, nor will counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets."

    Included within the category of the Writings are the Wisdom books - Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. While the prophets and the priests dealt with the religious life of Israel, the wise men were called upon to give advice about more philosophical matters.

    They made the point that the world was designed for wisdom and those who followed wisdom would find that the world was made for them. The book of Proverbs, which was largely written by Solomon, is crammed with the best advice it is possible to get and it is a tragedy that it is not part of our secular education system.

    But perhaps the greater tragedy is the fact that in some parts of the Christian Church (though not all) Proverbs is an unexplored book. Any church that does not encourage its people, especially its youth, to dig into the book of Proverbs is doing them a major disservice.

    Prayer:
    Gracious Father, help me develop a love and regard for Your Wisdom Literature. Grant that these days of searching and exploring may result in a new understanding of what wisdom is all about and that new evidence of Your wisdom may be seen in my life. Amen.

  4. #1564
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    Portable medicine

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 28:1-17

    "' a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order." (v.2)

    We ended yesterday with the statement that any church which does not encourage its people, especially its youth, to dig into the book of Proverbs is doing them a major disservice. I was introduced to Proverbs within weeks of becoming a Christian and this book, perhaps more than any other in the Bible, has supplied me with wisdom for living that has enriched my life.

    Moreover, the teaching in this book has greatly empowered my ministry and my writing. Every young person in the Christian Church needs to be steeped in the book of Proverbs as there is nothing in the entire annals of literature that can so prepare them for life. Alexander McLaren, a famous preacher from a past generation, said: "Proverbs is portable medicine for the fevers of youth."

    How true. And we might add that with medicine what matters is that you take it whether you know the doctor or not. I have known a number of young men and women who have told me that they came to faith in Christ through reading the book of Proverbs.

    One such person told me: "When I applied the principles of Proverbs and saw that these wise and witty sayings really worked, I was drawn to search for the One whose hand was so clearly present in the book and also in my life. After reading the Instruction Manual I wanted to know the Instructor."

    Not everyone, of course, will react in that way, but I myself am convinced that encouraging and exposing people, especially young people, to the ideas and concepts of Proverbs is one of the greatest forms of evangelism that can be conducted.


    Prayer:
    O Father, help me use any influence I have with young people to motivate them toward reading and absorbing the book of Proverbs. But first, let me dwell deep within it myself. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

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    Invoked or not

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 8:12-36

    "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors '" (v.34)

    We spend just one more day acquainting ourselves with background information on the book of Proverbs before embarking on our theme - the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The more you read and study Proverbs, and the more you apply its words to your life, the more you will find that its wise and witty sayings "work."

    They work because that is the way the Lord has set things up. It was said of Jung, the famous psychologist, that written over the door of his study was: "Invoked or not, God is present."

    This interesting statement provides us with a clue to understanding Proverbs, for whether men and women invoke the Creator or not, His creative and sustaining wisdom goes on giving them a world where wisdom operates and where things make sense to humankind. Someone has described Proverbs as "the scrapbook of common grace."

    "Common grace" is the phrase theologians use to describe the grace that God gives to humanity in general so that, whether they turn to Him or not, they are enabled to live more effectively and wisely on the earth.

    "Wisdom," says Charles G. Martin, "writes the handbook of instruction in God's workshop and when people despise wisdom, that is, true wisdom, they blot the copy book of life." Of course, we must accept that some may pursue wisdom for the wrong reason -self-interest - or just because wisdom "works," but as Archbishop William Temple put it: "The art of politics is so to arrange matters that self-interest prompts what justice demands." Heaven aside for the moment, our lives would be a lot better if wisdom, rather than folly, prevailed.

    Prayer:
    Father I am so thankful for this concept of "common grace." Your love reaches down to help people live life in a sensible and profitable way even though they may never come to know You personally. What a wonderful God You are. Amen.

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    Come into my house

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 9:1-9

    "Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars." (v.1)

    We are ready now to begin focusing on our main theme. I would encourage you to read through the whole book of Proverbs, preferably in two or three sittings. This will better prepare you for the meditations that are coming up day by day.

    Our text for today tells us that wisdom is like a house built on seven pillars. There are two ways of interpreting this text. One view says that both wisdom and folly have a house to which humankind is invited.

    Wisdom has a much larger house than folly, being built upon "seven pillars" - a sign in ancient times of wealth, status and prestige. There is no doubt that this is one meaning of the text, but the other view - and this is the one I am following in these studies - is that wisdom has seven major aspects.

    The book of Proverbs does not state categorically what these seven aspects are, so, based on my study and understanding of this great book, I am going to give you what I consider to be the seven major aspects of wisdom.

    Never in the history of the human race have there been so many problems, so much confusion, and so many conflicting philosophies of how to live. Those who lack wisdom do not have the perspectives that enable them to discern the connection between cause and effect and therefore they don't understand what they are stumbling over, or, if they do avoid problems, they don't understand why they avoid them. We need wisdom to live and Proverbs will show us how.

    Prayer:
    Gracious and loving heavenly Father, my appetite is whetted and now I am ready to begin. Grant that as I expose myself day by day to the truths of Your Word, wisdom may be more deeply imprinted into my spirit. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen

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    The first pillar of wisdom

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 3:1-18

    "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding '" (v.5)

    We turn now to consider the first of the seven pillars on which I believe that wisdom is built - trust. The theme of trust is everywhere in Proverbs; it punctuates almost every passage.

    The word "trust" itself occurs quite often, the frequency varying according to the translation you read (in the King James Version, for example, "trust" appears ten times) and its synonyms, such as "lean," "acknowledge," "depend," are found scattered through the book.

    According to Rabbi Bar Kappa, the verse before us today is the pivot around which all the essential principles of Judaism revolve. He claims that these words summarize the teaching of the whole Old Testament and give a clear focus to the fact that the wise are those who trust God and follow His directions for living.

    But what exactly is "trust"? How important is it to daily living? Why do the word and its synonyms occur so many times, not only in Proverbs but in other parts of Scripture as well?

    The dictionary defines trust as "a firm belief in the reliability, honesty, veracity, justice and strength of a person or thing." Basically "trust" is confidence that what we believe about a person or thing is true.

    We tend to think of trust as a spiritual quality, but actually it is an essential posture of life for everyone. It would be very difficult to get through a single day without the exercise of trust. All government, all economics, all institutions, all marriages, all relationships between people, are fundamentally governed by trust. We cannot relate well to God or others unless the capacity to trust is present within us.

    Prayer:
    Father, I see that trust is an essential thread that runs through the whole of living. Teach me that art of trusting, for an art it is. Help me to relax and maintain a complete confidence in You - hour by hour and day by day. Amen.

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    Trust is good for us

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 14:14-26

    "A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps." (v.15)

    We saw yesterday that all relationships, both human and divine, are fun-damentally governed by trust. Without trust, society would deteriorate into paranoia - the feeling that everyone is out to get you.

    Mental health specialists see an inability to trust as a symptom of emotional illness. Erik Erikson, a famous psychiatrist, says that the capacity to trust is the foundation of good emotional health, and conditions such as chronic anxiety, high nervousness or paranoia could be caused by an inability to trust.

    Although people may let us down and betray our trust, we must be careful that we do not allow those experiences to lead us to the conclusion that everyone we meet is a conspirator. On the other hand, you will no doubt have come across the expression "a trusting fool" - a phrase used to describe the person who is unable to discern the diabolical schemes that might be hatched up to exploit him.

    Erikson also says: "Unless we have a balanced approach to life - a basic trust together with a certain degree of caution - then we will never achieve emotional maturity or wholeness." Note his words carefully - "a balanced approach to life." Therein lies the secret. We must learn how to trust while at the same time exercising a certain amount of caution.

    Our text tells us that "a simple man believes anything," but that does not mean we should go to the other extreme and believe that everything people tell us is a downright lie or fabrication. Truth is a narrow column and we must watch that we do not lose our balance and fall off.

    Prayer:
    O Father, help me to be a balanced person - one who stands on the narrow column of truth without falling off into one extreme or the other. Remind me that error is often truth taken to an extreme. Keep me in the truth. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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    A snake in the grass

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 16:10-20

    "' blessed is he who trusts in the Lord." (v.20)

    Why does the Bible put before us the idea of caution? The simple answer is because we live in a fallen world. God made the first human pair perfect in every way and put them in a beautiful garden called "Paradise."

    They trusted Him for everything they needed and not once did He let them down. Unfortunately, however, there was a "snake in the grass" who hatched up a plot to which they succumbed and so they were brought down to ruin.

    Their downfall, in turn, plunged the whole human race into chaos. Because of the Fall, life is beset with problems, especially in the matter of trust. I can't rely entirely on nature - sometimes it rains too much or not enough.

    I can't rely entirely on family or friends - sometimes they won't or can't help or they may help too much. Sin has struck so deeply into human relationships that it would be unwise not to recognize that at times and for a variety of reasons people may let us down.

    In one way or another the Fall has played havoc with this matter of trust, but we must be careful that we do not allow the failures of trust we may experience on the human level to affect our view of the Divine. You can put your trust in God without fear of ever being let down.

    The apostle Peter puts it like this: "' the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame" (1 Peter 2:6). Drop your anchor into the depths of this reassuring and encouraging revelation. Whoever else you may not be able to trust - you can trust Him.

    Prayer:
    O Father, what encouragement this thought gives me: whoever else I can't trust, I can trust You. I have heard it so many times and read it so many times; now help me take hold of it. In Jesus' Name I Pray. Amen.

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    Why is trust difficult?

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 28:18-28

    "He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe." (v.26)

    Why is it that some people find it so difficult to trust? Many have said to me: "My problem is I find it so hard to trust." A person who finds it difficult to trust on a human level often finds it difficult to trust on a spiritual level.

    Trust is a learned response and we begin learning it the moment we arrive in this world. A newborn child arrives in the world with a good deal of vulnerability and among other things has to learn the art of developing trust.

    If parents are loving, reliable, predictable and trustworthy the child soon gets the idea: "I can trust these people who are looking after me. They don't always respond the way I would like them to but generally they are there for me when I need them."

    If, however, there is no reliable and consistent input of love and affection into a child's personality in the early years, if the parents are unconcerned and unpredictable, the child gets the idea: "People are not to be trusted."

    And in cases where parents are not just unconcerned, but downright cruel and abusive, the development of a basic trust is hard and difficult; some would say impossible. My experience in counselling shows that people with an inability to trust are usually those who experienced serious deprivation, abuse or cruelty in their early developmental years. This is no reason to despair, however, for in Christ we have a new parent and a new parentage. He enables us to overcome whatever difficulties there may be in our past.

    Prayer:
    Father, help my focus to be not on what has been, but on what can be, and what will be, when I am rightly related to You. I have grown up physically; now help me grow up spiritually. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.

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    How to forgive

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 30:21-33

    "' as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife." (v.33)

    If difficulties concerning basic trust on a natural level can hinder our ability to trust at a spiritual level, how do we as Christians overcome this? The first thing we must do is demonstrate a willingness to forgive those who hurt us. "That's hard," you might say.

    My reply is: "Yes, in the case of those who have been badly let down, it is hard - but not impossible." Here's how you do it. Focus first on how much you have been forgiven.

    The key to forgiving others is to enter into a realized awareness of how much God has forgiven you. When people say to me during a counselling session, "My problem is that I can't forgive," I usually respond by saying, "No, that's not your problem.

    Your problem is that you dont know how much you have been forgiven." It may be difficult for some to see this, especially those who have gone through deep hurt, but nothing others have done to you is as awful as what you have done to God.

    If you have difficulty with the last statement, it is because you do not understand the nature of sin. Sin is taking the Creator of the universe and relegating Him to irrelevance; it is saying to the One who made us - "I can run my life on my own terms."

    Sin is insanity - and you and I have been guilty of that. Yet in Christ God has forgiven us, pardoned us, and bestowed upon us His royal favor. Having been given such forgiveness, can we, dare we, withhold it from anyone who has betrayed our trust, no matter how horrifying that hurt has been?

    Prayer:
    Father, Your Word is frank and open - help me to respond to it in the same way. Take from me every biting hesitancy, every fear and apprehension, every refusal to accept responsibility. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

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    My way - or God's way

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 14:1-13

    "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." (v.12)

    The second step we need to take in order to rid ourselves of the things that hinder our ability to trust is the recognition of the fact that, having been let down by others, we have determined in our hearts that we will never trust another person again.

    The determination never to trust another person again may be a human reaction, but it is not a Christian one. I have heard many people say, "I can trust God but I can't trust people." But Christianity is all about relating to people.

    The essence of reality is passionate, other-centered relationships, as is evidenced by the perfect relationships of the Trinity, in whose image we are made. If we draw back from others because we are afraid of being betrayed, then what we are saying is this: "I can't trust God enough to hold me when others let me down."

    Those, therefore, who say, "I can trust God and I can't trust people," are not making sense. It is more honest to say, "I can't trust God and I can't trust people."

    What we ought to be saying, if we really believe the truths of the New Testament and are willing to give ourselves to them, is this: "I can trust God to hold me when I relate to others, irrespective of whether I am accepted or rejected."

    The determination to stay self-protected is evidence that our trust is not what it should be. We must bring this self-protective determination to preserve our own soul before God in an act of repentance, and resolve that no matter how others may treat us, our trust will be confidently placed in Him.

    Prayer:
    O Father, I must ask myself: Can I trust You enough to hold me when others do not come through for me? The determination to stay safe seems so right, yet it is so wrong. I turn from my way to Your way. Hold me secure. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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    Is trust idealistic?

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 29:19-27

    "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." (v.25)

    Sometimes someone says to me: "Isn't it idealistic to expect me to be vulnerable to further hurt after I have been let down and betrayed?" My answer is to point them to Jesus.

    If He can do it, then so can we - providing we depend on His strength and not ours. Our Lord knows better than anyone what it means to be let down and betrayed. In all the heaped up pain of His passion, few things would have hurt Him more than being betrayed by His disciples.

    Did our Lord's experience of Peter's denial cause Him to conclude: "Never again will I trust that man"? Come with me to Galilee and let us see. Simon Peter, no doubt feeling disillusioned, returns to his trade as a fisherman, whereupon Jesus pursues him and puts Himself in a position of being hurt once again.

    He says to Peter, "Do you love Me?" using the strong Greek word for love - agape. Peter responds, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You," using the weaker Greek word for love - philia (John 21:1516, NKJV). How would you feel, do you think, if you plucked up courage to say to someone who had already let you down.

    "Do you love me?" and he or she responded: "Well, I like you." Would you not feel hurt, wounded, perhaps slightly rejected? I think Jesus must have felt most keenly the thrust of Peter's words, yet He did not allow it to deter Him from continuing, even pursuing, the relationship. That's what I mean by vulnerability. That's what I mean by love.

    Prayer:
    Father, is it possible that You can make me so secure that I, too, am able to be vulnerable in my relationships? I must believe it; I do believe it. Help me to demonstrate it in every relationship I am called by You to pursue. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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    Yours trustingly

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 11:25-31

    "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall '" (v.28)

    What have we been saying about the important issue of trust? Trust is an essential ingredient in our relationships - both human and divine. The reason we can demonstrate trust in all our earthly relationships is because we recognize that there is One who is governing our lives.

    We can give ourselves to others knowing that even though they let us down He will hold us in His arms and not allow us to be destroyed. Notice carefully what I say here, because many Christians hold God to promises He never made and then get disappointed when He doesn't come through for them.

    God does not promise to keep us from being hurt in our relationships, but He does promise to keep us from being destroyed. The more you trust in God, the more effective you will be in your relationships with others. Because your ultimate trust is in God, you will be free from unconscious manipulative techniques and, drawing your security from Him, you can give yourself more freely to others.

    "Love does not begin," someone has said, "until you expect nothing in return." When your trust is wholly in the Lord, you can love like that. If you have never done so before, decide now to put in God's hands all the hurts and betrayals of the past. Forgive all those who have let you down.

    Lift up your head and look into the face of the One who will never betray you. Give Him all your trust. And, I say again, keep in mind that trust is not only an essential posture of life; it is the first step in wisdom. The wise are those who trust.

    Prayer:
    O God, break down any last barrier that may be hindering me from putting my trust fully in You. I would have the doors of my spirit turn out, not in. Help me begin and end every day by saying, "Yours trustingly." In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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    Another pillar of wisdom

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 10:9-17

    "The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out." (v.9)

    We turn now to look at what I consider to be the second pillar of wisdom - integrity. This theme, like trust, is one that is continually emphasised in Proverbs for, as we shall see, no one can be truly successful in life without integrity.

    The dictionary defines integrity as: "wholeness, soundness, trustworthiness, uprightness, honesty." You can see at once that there is a moral quantity about integrity and that morality is an essential characteristic of wisdom.

    One of the mistakes many people make when thinking about wisdom is to confuse it with learning, intelligence, brilliance or cleverness. How many times do we read in our newspapers of those who have climbed the ladder of success, have been highly educated or have achieved great prominence in the world, only to see them come tumbling down because of some moral indiscretion?

    Many professional people have a great deal of knowledge but lack wisdom. For example, you see this in the marriage counselor who, in spite of all his credentials, can't hold his own marriage together; in the economist who goes bankrupt playing the stock market; in the preacher who shocks his congregation by running off with a young woman.

    Learning, understanding, intelligence and professional training are important - dont hear me demean them - but if we are to be experts in the art of living, as Proverbs sets out to teach us, then we must see that without wisdom the things I have listed don't count for too much. "The simplicity of integrity is the profundity of wisdom," says Paul Larsen. How true! How very true!

    Prayer:
    O God, give me, in addition to trust, a high degree of integrity. I want not only to trust others but I want them to trust me. You know my need and also my desire. Grant me these facets of wisdom. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.

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    I would rather be right

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 8:1-11

    "For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her" (v.11)

    We continue with the thought that another aspect of wisdom is integrity. Both the universe and we are alien to untruth and dishonesty. The universe is made for the same thing we are made for - righteousness.

    Not only the face of the Lord, but the face of the universe, is set against those who try to go some other way. No scientist can get very far without integrity. If he tampers with the laws that govern the universe, then he comes out looking foolish.

    He must sit down before the facts of the universe, and if he is to be successful, whatever he does has to be based on a prior commitment to honor and truthfulness. Without integrity, all learning becomes evil.

    Charles Spurgeon wrote to the then Prime Minister of Britain, William Gladstone, in these words: "You do not know how those of us regard you who feel it a joy to live when a Prime Minister believes in righteousness. We believe in no man's infallibility but it is restful to be sure of one man's integrity."

    What makes us so suspicious of politicians, even though politics can be a noble profession, is not that they might make some mistakes, but that sometimes staying in office is more important to them than honor and candor.

    Henry Clay, when about to introduce to the American Congress a bill that was heavily weighted in favor of morality, was told, "If you do this, it will kill your chances of becoming president." His reply was, "I would rather be right than be president." I can almost see King Solomon's head nodding in favor of that.

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    The worst thing

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 28:18-28

    "He whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but he whose ways are perverse will suddenly fall." (v.18)

    We said yesterday that both we and the universe are made for integrity and that both the universe and we are alien to untruth and dishonesty. The whole thrust of the universe which God designed and created is simple, uncomplicated, and built on truth.

    There are great mysteries, of course, but no lies. Scientific laws are upheld by truth. Gravity, for example, will not lie; it is as true in one country as it is in another, as reliable in Jerusalem as it is in Japan.

    It has often been pointed out that the word "evil" is the word "live" spelled backwards. Satan delights to take what God does and try to reverse it - to move life in the opposite way to that in which it was designed to go.

    Satan is a liar (John 8:44), and lies are always roundabout, complicated and deceiving. The fact that the universe is built on truth can be verified by the simple device known as a "lie detector." The lie detector test works on the basis that people who tell lies and know they are telling lies become extremely anxious and uncomfortable, and this anxiety is then picked up by the machine.

    But why does telling a lie make a person anxious? Because we are built for truth, and any departure from it registers on the inside in a way that can be picked up on the outside. A lie detector is not infallible and can sometimes (though not often) be fooled. But what cannot be fooled is the soul of the person who is lying. The worst thing about being a liar is to be the person telling the lie.

    Prayer:
    Father, help me lay hold of the fact that a lie demeans me, but the truth develops me. I cannot live successfully by a lie any more than I can fling myself out of the window and defy gravity. May I be a person of truth. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

  18. #1578
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    Can a lie be justified?

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 19:1-9

    "A false witness will not go unpunished and he who pours out lies will perish." (v.9)

    Will the universe sustain a lie? Today the Church is being inundated with a philosophy called "situational ethics" which would have us believe that sometimes a lie can be right. I think that is a deadly and diabolical doctrine.

    A lie is never right - no matter what attempts we might make to justify it. "God is not a man, that he should lie," says the Scripture in Numbers 23:19, and in 1 John 2:21 we read, "' no lie comes from the truth."

    God cannot lie and He will never delegate to you the task of lying for Him. When we take dishonesties into our lives we take fire into our lives - here and hereafter: "' all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone" (Rev. 21:8, NKJV).

    "Situational ethics" proponents come up with all kinds of possible scenarios, such as: "What if someone came to your house to murder a member of your family and asked if that person was in. Would it not be right to lie in those circumstances?"

    Can you see the thrust of this question? It is the argument, "This is what we ought to do because it makes sense." But once we view sin as an "ought," it is magically turned into something that is "good." The Bible does not teach that anyone in any situation ought to sin.

    1 Corinthians 10:13 teaches that because God is faithful, we will never find ourselves in a situation where we must sin, but there will always be a way of escape. God never calls upon us to break one of His laws in order to keep another.

    Prayer:
    O Father, in a world that seems to be always looking for excuses and exceptions, help me to steer my life by the clear statements of Your revealed will. I dont want to measure up to exceptions; I want to conform to the rules - Your rules. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

  19. #1579
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    Two important facts

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 6:12-19

    "There are six things the Lord hates ' a false witness who pours out lies '" (vv.16, 19)

    We return to the question we raised yesterday: What if someone came to your house to murder a member of your family and asked if that person was in? Would it not be right to lie in such circumstances?

    The "situational ethics" people would say "Yes." The Bible, in my opinion, says, "No." Situational ethics is notorious for coming up with hypothetical situations in which a person must sin because that is what ought to be done. But once we view sin as a "must" and an "ought," we are finished.

    A Christian view of ethics rejects every constructed situation which the situational ethics people advance because it fails to take into account two important biblical facts. First - God's sovereignty.

    God will always make a way for His people to avoid sinning. Second - the Holy Spirit's power. The believer is encouraged not to worry about what to say in difficult situations. "At that time you will be given what to say" (Matt. 10:19). Also, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" (Prov. 3:5).



    God is not ignorant or stupid. He did not fail to see that sometimes His laws would seem to contradict one another. He knew full well that there would be occasions when it might seem prudent from a human point of view to violate one of His principles, hence His promise to us in 1 Corinthians 10:13. Those who try to excuse the breaking of any of God's moral laws on the pretext that it feels "right" or seems "good" sow the seeds of disruption in their own inner being. It is not the way of wisdom.

    Prayer:
    Father, Forgive us that so often we prefer human wisdom to divine wisdom simply because it "feels" right. Help us to trust Your Word even when it runs counter to our own feelings. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

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    Dishonesty is doomed

    For reading & meditation: Proverbs 14:1-13

    "A truthful witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies." (v.5)

    We need to fix it as an axiom in our thinking that nobody ever gets away with anything, anywhere, at any time, if that "anything" is dishonest or untrue. The whole history of humanity is a commentary on this.

    The first lie, uttered by Satan in the Garden of Eden, was this: "You will not surely die" (Gen. 3:4). And he keeps repeating that well-worn but discredited lie to every man and woman who comes into this world. Something dies the moment you are dishonest or fail to be a person of integrity.

    Self-respect dies within you. Death begins to eat away at your heart the moment dishonesty comes in. You are not so much punished for your sin. You are punished by sin for sin. In one sense, sin is its own punishment. "Dishonesty puts sand in the machinery of life," says one writer.

    I would add: "And honesty and integrity put in oil." We can choose to live with sand, or oil, in our inner mechanism. I cannot say whether or not I would ever lie. I would like to think not - but I am fallible and human. I know this, however: my moral joints will creak if I am dishonest. I am made for integrity and I will not function well without it.

    Prayer:
    O Father, help me grasp this simple but important fact - I am designed in my inner being for truth and honesty. When I work with truth, I go leaping into life. When I work without it, I limp. Drive this truth deep into my being. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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