The Verbs #8 (How to Live Well)

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How to Live Well

One man said “that many people would be full of wisdom had they not had the idea that they already knew everything.”

One of the very best ways to live a life full of wisdom is to remain teachable. Jesus said of those who never lost their hunger nor ever lost their thirst, that they would be filled. (Matthew 5:6) In order for you to be hungry or thirsty, you must deplete yourself of what is already in you. Then there is a pain, hunger pain, or a sign of thirst. Many people will never hunger and thirst after Jesus, because they are still full of themselves. Until you are depleted of you, you’ll never fully hunger and thirst after Jesus.

Let me give you another example. Say, you invited me over for dinner, I’m not sure of the menu, nor I am sure of the exact time that we are going to eat. I’ve worked all day, and I am hungry, so on my way over to your house, I swing into the local burger joint, and get me a couple of items from the value menu. Even though, I’m on my way to dinner, I’m going to satisfy my hunger, on my own. I am now filled with what I have purchased and consumed. I arrive at your place, and there, before me is the most exquisite meal ever served, but I am not hungry, now! You see I have consumed to satisfy myself, regardless of how delicious your meal smells, or how inviting it looks, there just isn’t room, nor is there a hunger to eat what you have prepared.

Could that be the way that we are with God and His word? We are so filled with the value menu of the world, or our own ideas, that we aren’t truly getting the real meal. Sure, you’re making it through, just as that meal satisfied me, but I could have had the best. Instead I settled for less.

In Proverbs 8 Solomon lays it out very simply, that we would live well, if we would listen to wisdom. How do you know if you are getting the value menu or the best dinner? I use this next to funnel so much of what I hear through.

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the other’s’ throats.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Jas 3:13–16). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Jas 3:17–18). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Solomon stated many of these same things in Proverbs 8.

Here is some of what Solomon told us about hearing wisdom:

Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
I’m telling you how to live at your best.
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money,
and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her…
“I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity;
Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.
The Fear-of-God means hating Evil,
whose ways I hate with a passion—
pride and arrogance and crooked talk.
Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics;
I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.
With my help, leaders rule,
and lawmakers legislate fairly;
With my help, governors govern,
along with all in legitimate authority.
I love those who love me;
those who look for me find me.
Wealth and Glory accompany me—
also substantial Honor and a Good Name.
My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—
at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me,
filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 8:5–6)  (Pr 8:9–21). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

The best way to live is to be emptied of yourself, and go after God with a hunger and thirst to be filled by Him.

The Verbs #7 (Dressed for Success)

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Proverbs 7 is quite a chapter. Up to this point, most of the Proverbs have related to two main topics: wisdom and women. Solomon is speaking and giving instruction to run towards wisdom, but to flee from the evil woman. He is writing these proverbs to his son imploring him to flee from the woman who is out to destroy him; however, the point is applicable to us all.

Solomon is talking about running from temptation. Specifically, here in Chapter 7, he speaks about a woman who was dressed to seduce. She was dressed and properly positioned for success in capturing the young man in her snare.

Throughout this chapter, the woman appeals to the young man in seven different ways.

This woman was positioned on the corner. It wasn’t that her house was on the corner; that is where she positioned herself to seduce the man. Maybe you’ve heard the old saying, “trouble came looking for you”. That’s what we have in this Proverb. It is what happens to us if we are not vigilant in keeping ourselves pure before God, and staying in tune with what the enemy of our soul is attempting to do to us. We will succumb to this attack.

You can describe the devil as cunning, shrewd and even brilliant in his attacks on you. He properly positions himself to lay a trap for you. The Bible tells us that he is extremely crafty. The Bible also uses a snake as an imagery of Satan. Snakes do not blink because they do not have eyelids. Their eyes are always open, so they are always watching, on the prowl and ready for the attack! Your enemy is on the lookout, or shall I say he’s standing on the corner, looking out for you.  He never stops, he never rests and he’s extremely patient. Peter warned us about Satan’s prowling ways that we are to be sober-minded, watchful because our adversary prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

We all have this mental picture of the enemy of our soul. We have the comic book or the Hollywood version played out in our minds time and time again. He is this ghoulish looking enemy, but he was the shining light. II Corinthians 11:14 tells us that he “disguises himself as an angel of light”. He appears as something that can look good and trustworthy.  The story we find in Genesis 3 tells us that the devil understands how to dress for success. He disguised himself in a manner that Eve would not question or have any reason to mistrust. At this point in history, there was no fear of animals or nature, so for her to approach a snake wasn’t out of the ordinary. The devil used something, that at first glance, wouldn’t cause alarm.

In sports, teams use their practice time studying and preparing how to attack the weaknesses of their opponent. The enemy of your soul does the exact same thing. He studies, he listens and prepares an attack that can exploit you and that catches you off guard! He’s just waiting on you to walk by the corner where he has laid his trap.

So many will say, “I am strong enough to ward off the attacks of the enemy.” Let me shed some light on that argument. The Bible describes four men who were extremely powerful and gifted leaders, some had great anointing on their lives. One, from his mother’s womb was to be a Nazarite. These great and powerful men fell by way of the woman. Samson, David, Solomon and Herod all fell through the snare of a woman. Samson was one of the strongest men who ever lived, yet succumbed to the temptation of a woman. David was one of the greatest songwriters and kings who ever lived, but was tripped up by noticing Bathsheba. Solomon, the wisest of all until Jesus, couldn’t pass the test. Herod, doing all that he could to stay in power, let a dance of a little girl and the request of her mother, bring him to a decision to kill John the Baptist. Still think you are strong enough to continually pass by the corner and remain unmoved? Only by the help of the Holy Spirit can you withstand the attacks of the enemy upon your life.

The Holy Spirit is the mechanism by which we can know where, how and when the attack will come. Paul stated to the church at Corinth that we are not to be ignorant of his devices. Meaning we are to be aware of how the devil works so that we can always have the advantage on him.

A few years ago, I preached a message about the times in which the enemy would launch an attack or lay a trap for you. He rarely will come at you with a full-frontal assault. It is usually a glancing blow that gets you out of balance, and then he goes for the haymaker. Here are five opportune times the enemy will launch an attack: (You can request the notes from the full sermon.)

1. Right after a spiritual victory (Victories often lead to defeat!)
2. When you’re alone (There is a big difference in being lonely and isolated, versus solitude!)
3. When you are physically drained (I could add when you are emotionally and spiritually drained!)
4. When you’re at church (C’mon, you’ve been there and done this one too!)
5. When you begin something new for God (Like a fast!)

Look at the wording here of this scripture:

13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
The New King James Version. (1982). (Lk 4:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

He tempted but didn’t fulfill his desire of making Jesus fail, so he departed until a more opportune time. Jesus wasn’t fooled by the disguises or temptations, nor was He ignorant of the basis of the attack. Why? He knew the Word! Just as the devil can dress for success, so can you, by putting on the whole armor of God.

Further study:

Ephesians 6Matthew 4Luke 3
Judges 16:4-21Luke 4:1Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
II Samuel 11 and 12Genesis 2:18Mark 14:38
I Kings 11 Luke 4:14-15Nehemiah 13:26

The Verbs #6 (Hate)

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The Verbs #6 – Hate

Proverbs chapter six identifies six things that God hates, but it lists seven things. The last one God considers to be an abomination.

Here is the list of seven things that would be advisable to avoid to stay off God’s list:

1. Eyes that are arrogant
2. A tongue that lies
3. Hands that murder the innocent
4. A heart that hatches evil plots
5. Feet that race down a wicked track
6. A mouth that lies under oath
7. A troublemaker in the family

Alright, I’ve already repented seven times while writing this. God forgive me for having these in my life.

God is a lover of unity, honesty and integrity. Each one of the listed items on the hate list of God, disrupts unity. Unity is always destroyed through the attributes that God hates. Liars, pot stirrers, pride, evil thoughts and troublemakers always work to divide, instead of unite.

As much as God loves unity, the devil hates it. God hates things that cause disunity. The devil hates the things which cause, create or fosters unity among us. Why is there such a strong work to destroy unity?

Look at these instances in the Bible when God’s people were unified. Though their aspirations were misguided, the people at the Tower of Babel were unified. Through their unity, they accomplished one of the great feats of their day. On the Day of Pentecost, the church was birthed! A mighty movement was unleashed, and a message that is still being delivered, lived, and experienced, came on a day when they were all in one mind and one accord. In other words, there was unity among them. Can you imagine what we could accomplish if we all were unified? Look at what we, as a local church have done by unifying around a simple vision to love kids in Cairo! That’s why the devil works so hard to destroy unity!

Just look at our nation here. After a moment of tragedy, such as 9/11, there was a national movement to unity. People stood in the streets, supported one another and comforted one another. Even though it was one of the most tragic days in many of our lives, it was also one of our nation’s strongest days. We were unified! Then look at the spiritual onslaught that has been unleashed to destroy that unity among us. Here we are, a nation that is racked with the list of things that God hates. We murder, kill, lie and sow discord among ourselves to gain power and influence. We kill innocence, arrogance is rife among us and it has caused such disunity. I have never witnessed such disunity in my lifetime. Families are broken, race relations are being attacked and our brotherhoods are estranged. The enemy is having a field day. Where should we, as the church stand? What should our voice be declaring?

Think on this verse…

10         You who love the Lord, hate evil!
He preserves the souls of His saints;
He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.

The New King James Version. (1982). (Ps 97:10). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

We are to hate evil, certainly not participate in it. Hating evil does not mean I cannot love. A disagreement over an action doesn’t mean that I hate a person. We are not wrestling people; rather, we are wrestling against spiritual wickedness, principalities and powers. We are to bring those spirits, which would cause disunity, into captivity. That’s how we become a people who builds unity. We take disunity and remove it.  

We are to be a people who builds unity. If you desire to be a person that lives in the blessings of the Lord, then be a bridge builder, a relationship mender and a peacemaker. If we do that, and stand in unity with each other, that’s where the blessing of the Lord is! Love unity and hate the things that cause disunity. It is a good thing to be in unity!

How wonderful, how beautiful,
when brothers and sisters get along!
It’s like costly anointing oil
flowing down head and beard,
Flowing down Aaron’s beard,
flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon
flowing down the slopes of Zion.
Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing,
ordains eternal life.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Ps 133:1–134:title). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.