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Archive for July, 2011

verse 1: “A good name is to be more desired than great riches, Favor is better than silver and gold.”

Names….there are some names that call up instant facial associations or memories. Some are good and some are bad. For instance:

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross. You probably thought about the colonial people who are historical figures in the birth of the United States as a nation.

Benjamin Banneker, George Washington Carver, Granville T. Woods, Horace King, Sarah Goode – Leaders/pioneers in the fields of astronomy, agricultural research, railroads, bridge-building, and furniture. By the way, what did they have in common? They also were African-Americans.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Billy Graham, Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, Paul – men of faith, Christian preachers of the gospel.

Now consider these names:

Adolph Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Caligula – their very names conjure up images of the evil that these men fostered.

Now remember this: when we give our lives to Jesus, when we accept Him as Lord and Savior in our lives…no matter who we were before, our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Something to think about.

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verse 30: “There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against the LORD.”

Have you ever been asked how your favorite football (substitute whatever sport you root for, if it’s not football) team is going to do? Regardless of how they did last season, the new season of a sport is mostly fraught with optimism. I have seen games where it didn’t look like my team had a chance…at least according to all the statistics on paper. I have seen games where the “odds” were stacked against my team winning…yet, they found a way to win the game. I ashamedly admit, when in college, there were times I used to pray to God for a victory. I later saw a joke that got my attention. A church-goer told the preacher that he was praying his school would win the big showdown game that weekend, but that he knew his best friend (who roots for the other school) was praying equally hard. He asked the preacher whose team would win. The preacher smiled, and said, “Well, I think the Lord is going to enjoy a fine football game this weekend!”

There are countless battles in the Bible where the nation of Israel looked like there was no way (on paper) that they would win. But they had on their side Someone who the other side didn’t have: God. No weapon ever made or conceived….no computer or artificial intelligence ever devised….no amount of military might…can prevail against the Lord. Period, the end.

Now….whose side would you rather be on?

Something to think about today.

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verse 23: “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.”

A friend of mine sent me an emailed string of jokes under the title “How to Start a Fight”. Each little scenario ends with “…and then the fight started.” An example:

My wife sat down next to me as I was flipping channels.
She asked, “What’s on TV?”
I said, “Dust.”
And then the fight started…
🙂

Many an argument, fight, and conflagration has started because someone couldn’t keep their big mouth shut. Even Solomon realized this. Not every thought, retort, or reply we have should be vocalized. Now, God knows what you’re thinking, but you shouldn’t complicate a bad thought by giving it voice. God will more readily forgive you if you sincerely ask forgiveness, than some people will. Or to paraphrase a well-known maxim: “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Something to think about.

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verse 13: “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered.”

The following poem comes to mind; it can be found at the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came%E2%80%A6
“First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
-Pastor Martin Niemöller

Man sees differences…God sees how all the same we are. We all need His love. He wants us to share His love with others, regardless of the differences “we” see. There is another old phrase that begins “there, for the grace of God, go I”. Jesus Christ looked upon the masses cheering Him as he entered Jerusalem on that Passion week and, knowing they would be calling for His death not days later, looked upon them with compassion. We need to have that same compassion today.

Something to think about.

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verse 9: “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”
verse 19: “It is better to live in a desert land, Than with a contentious and vexing woman.”

Both these verses comment along similar lines, so I decided to address them together.

When I would watch some TV programs as a small child in the 1970’s, I was confused by a scene I would occasionally see. It’s the scene of the working father in the family; he would stop by the neighborhood bar for a few drinks on his way home from work. I always wondered why the dad on TV was not in a hurry to get home after leaving work. My father would come straight home after work, unless he had to pick up something at the hardware store. (I should note my father is not a drinker either.) I just didn’t understand.

As I got older, I would see or hear of married friends talk about when they got home from work and tackle issues of strife or argument the minute they walked in the door. I even occasionally experienced times like that in my own family; after a hard day at work, I walked in to hear from my wife about frustrating issues that needed dealing with. (I remember on occasion saying, “Can I get a “Hi dear, how are you?” first?” and smile.) Now, I’m not talking about fighting; we just both had hard days, stuff to take care of, and we both collided trying to take care of things when both were already tired. Now, we were not like those TV families. In retrospect, though, I began to wonder if that’s why that TV dad would stop off before going home.

Our homes should be a refuge from the noisy chaos of the outside world; sometimes it’s not. As Christians, we need to work hard to ensure that our family and our home are refuges from contentious squabbling that seems to intrude from the outside world. I once spoke with my father when work stresses had gotten me down; he surprised me by asking how things were at home. He later explained that, “if your home is taken care of, then you can take care of work and everything else.”

If you have a chance (and access to the words), read the lyrics of the old hymn God Give Us Christian Homes. May that be your prayer to God today!

Have a blessed day in Him.

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verse 3: “To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the LORD rather than sacrifice.”

Towards the end of our vacation, my family and I ate at a local barbeque restaurant. It was on the 4th of July, and the restaurant was extremely busy. When we got through eating and our young waitress gave us the bill, my wife and I noticed that she forgot to ring up a few items. We called her back over and politely pointed out her error. We could see the relief on her face when she realized the mistake; what she said struck me odd for a moment. She smiled and said, “Not many people would’ve admitted it” (the error in their favor). I purposely replied to her when she brought back the corrected bill, “well, we try to do the right thing, miss”. She thanked us.

God wants us to do the right thing. One of the traits of the Pharisees that Jesus pointed out to them was their hypocrisy: they would make a big deal out of their sacrifices and “following religious rules”, but ignore the basic acts of kindness, justice, and righteousness. While offerings and sacrifices are good when done with the right heart, God is gladdened when we practice righteousness and justice…just as He would.

Have a great day in the Lord!

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