As a kid, sometimes my mouth would “shoot first, and look later.” After many self-inflicted wounds, I can still hear the voices of my parents saying, “Wise up!” Did you know that the Book of Proverbs in the Bible was written by a parent to his children? Solomon, the king, wanted to give his children everything he could to see them “wise up” and live productive, God-honoring lives. Of course, Solomon’s wisdom extends way beyond his own children…blessing every generation and countless numbers of God’s children wherever the Bible is read and spoken! Here are (in my opinion) the most well-known verses in Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (3:5-6). These verses contain the ultimate “wise up” challenge! We don’t like to admit it, but our own ways of thinking are often messed up and lead to terrible choices. When we are challenged to humble ourselves before God, our natural inclination is to crawl back to our “self-understanding” cave…and brag about the wisdom of our own opinions. May we hear God’s call to come out of the cave! Receiving wisdom from God begins by admitting how foolish we are. Such humility is why many people never submit to God. It takes a lot of courage to admit “I am wrong and God is right.” But, by taking the plunge away from our limited understanding into the vast resources of God, we begin life’s great adventure of living under His blessing. Through admitting our need of God’s wisdom, we begin to understand true purpose and enjoy living in right relationship with Him. King Solomon continued his insights on wisdom (as seen in the next verse): “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil” (Proverbs 3:7). As the best parent ever, God offers us His way to find wisdom. Will we follow His way…or stay in our own way?
“I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing praise. I will be careful to lead a blameless life—when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing…” (Psalm 101:1-3a). We notice in these verses that the Psalmist connects the joy of singing to the Lord with the quality of how we live. What caught my attention is the word “careful.” He made a commitment to be “careful to lead a blameless life.” If he means sinless perfection here, we are all in trouble! “Blameless,” in Scripture, means walking with God in truth and integrity…hiding nothing from Him and harboring no hidden practices of sin. Sad to say, the average Christian today is not careful concerning their walk with God. We settle for “mixture.” We want God and His blessings, but we also indulge our carnal nature. I find it interesting (and challenging) that the Psalmist emphasizes the importance of living a life of integrity first in the home. Then he gives the example of setting “no vile thing” before his eyes. This was written hundreds of years before the television and internet! It’s as if this admonition is a prophetic challenge to our generation—to those who are so careless about what they put before their eyes. So, we have to ask ourselves the question: Do I want God’s joy and peace in my life, or do I just want to sit and entertain myself with evil images and thoughts? Don’t misunderstand me. I am not advocating getting rid of TVs and the internet. However, I challenge you as I challenge myself: Decide what is really important in life and go after it! Be careful in your choice of entertainment! Enjoy the presence and peace of Jesus!
Sometimes it’s tough to decide. What do I get for my father for Father’s Day…a card, a gift certificate, or maybe a tie? God’s Word gives us insight into what fathers really want (and not just for one day). The last Old Testament prophet, Malachi, spoke on God’s behalf to the people of Israel, saying, “‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me’ says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 1:6a). The Lord “called out” His people for ignoring and disrespecting Him, the Father of their hearts and nation. Let’s connect this to our human fathers. From this passage we see that God created men with a deep longing for respect. However, there’s a tendency to appoint ourselves judges when it comes to giving respect—especially to our fathers. We write the sins and flaws of our fathers in bold letters on the tablet of our heart, resulting in a bitter and resentful attitude. Rather than giving respect, we withhold it as a way of “getting back.” We can and must overcome our resentment and disrespect, not by convincing ourselves of the “perfection” of our father, but by desiring to obey and honor our heavenly Father. The Lord calls us to a “higher” response through the power and love of Jesus. A great example of this demonstration of love and respect is David. King Saul, David’s father-in-law, degenerated into a terrible king and father. Yet, David continued to respect Saul all his life. He refused to speak evil of his father-in-law or get revenge. David knew that he needed to respect Saul’s God-given position as a father and king—even if he did not respect Saul’s actions. God calls us to maturity in Christ. No one grew up with a perfect father. Through Jesus, let’s show grace and forgiveness…just as the Lord has shown to us. Honor your father!
Is that all it is? In America, we honor the past with special memorials. For example, on July 4th we commemorate Independence Day, the birth of our nation. Remembering and commemorating historical events such as this are important for our sense of heritage. However, when it comes to the things of God, there has to be more than looking at the past. Today is the Day of Pentecost—the day when God the Father and Jesus the Son fulfilled the promise of Scripture and sent the promised Holy Spirit! Is the coming of the Spirit simply for our reflection? The Bible teaches us to live in the power of the Spirit. In fact, we are hopeless and helpless to overcome sin without God’s Spirit. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Galatians 5:16-17). The presence of the Spirit empowers us to live now…not just to remember then and there. The battle for the supremacy of the heart rages in every soul, and only through the Spirit can we overcome our sin nature and please God. Not only does the Spirit enable us to win our inner battles, but the Spirit is the One who empowers us to share Jesus with others. Before the Day of Pentecost Jesus promised, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8a). Here we see the direct connection between the work of the Spirit and witness to the world. Pray each day for opportunities to share Jesus and believe that He empowers you. In summary, the Spirit of God given on the Day of Pentecost is not for us to “commemorate;” it is for us to experience. Life was meant to be lived in the Spirit!