Be a person of passion

For some reason or other – today’s study did not trigger any additional thoughts.

However, the following extracts are worth repeating – they are so true: “What every one of us needs in our lives is a passion so powerful that it transcends all other passions. In God we find that passion. …

When Christ, who is the wisdom of God and the power of God, is allowed to live at the centre of our lives then His passion keeps every other passion where it ought to be – under control.”

The verses set for reading and meditation are Proverbs 29:1-18 (I’m starting to use the New Living Translation (NLT), instead of the New International Version (NIV) – the version, Selwyn often uses; for minor reasons.):

“The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.

When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.

A poor person who oppresses the poor is like a pounding rain that destroys the crops.

To reject the law is to praise the wicked; to obey the law is to fight them.

Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the Lord understand completely.

Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich.

Young people who obey the law are wise; those with wild friends bring shame to their parents.

Income from charging high interest rates will end up in the pocket of someone who is kind to the poor.

God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law.

Those who lead good people along an evil path will fall into their own trap, but the honest will inherit good things.

Rich people may think they are wise, but a poor person with discernment can see right through them.

When the godly succeed, everyone is glad. When the wicked take charge, people go into hiding.

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.

A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a roaring lion or an attacking bear. A ruler with no understanding will oppress his people, but one who hates corruption will have a long life.  

A murderer’s tormented conscience will drive him into the grave. Don’t protect him!  The blameless will be rescued from harm, but the crooked will be suddenly destroyed.”

Did you have any views on today’s study?

Sin breaks God’s heart

The verses set by Selwyn, for reading and meditation, are Proverbs 6:27-35 (NLT): “Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? So it is with the man who sleeps with another man’s wife. He who embraces her will not go unpunished.

Excuses might be found for a thief who steals because he is starving. But if he is caught, he must pay back seven times what he stole, even if he has to sell everything in his house.

But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself. He will be wounded and disgraced. His shame will never be erased. For the woman’s jealous husband will be furious, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation, nor be satisfied with a payoff of any size.”

I liked the first verse – it has so many layers of meaning!

Selwyn introduces today’s study with: “We have talked about chasity; let’s talk about faithfulness. Chasity is purity prior to marriage; faithfulness is virtue within marriage. Love cannot be love unless it includes faithfulness, and God wants everyone who enters into marriage to be loyal and true.”

He concludes with these words: “People may shy away from commitment in a relationship, claiming they want to be ‘free’ – but without commitment is it really love? Love is a commitment, and when men and women indulge in sex before marriage or a so-called affair they don’t just break God’s laws; they also break His heart.

It is essential to be aware that when we sin – we hurt, the creator of all the universe – we cause God grief. This is no such thing as a victimless sin – every sin has – as its victim, a tortured Christ on the cross – bruised, beaten and bleeding. When we enjoy the freedom of doing what we want; doing those things which are in opposition to Jesus’ commandments – we break God’s heart – and, He weeps!

Giving all to God

Selwyn’s message is excellent: “People who struggle with the concept of deferred satisfaction, in other words, learning to wait (especially, in regard to intimate relations being deferred until marriage), ought to take another look at the contestants who prepare for sports events – especially the Olympic Games.”

His conclusion, contains an important lesson and has a broader application then just learning to wait: “The Christian message teaches us that God came to this world in the Person of His Son in order to set up a rescue mission to save us from everlasting hell. If we believe that Jesus is God’s Son (and, that His death and resurrection proves that He has completely paid the penalty for our sins), we are saved, but not that we might sit back and indulge ourselves in the thought. We are saved to serve. If non-Christians can deny themselves present satisfaction for future gains and go to such lengths to win a prize (such as a gold medal at the Olympics), how much more ought we, who serve the risen Christ? Dare we stand by and watch them do for gold what we are not prepared to do for God?

If your participation in the service of God is restricted to an hour each Sunday, or less; then you are not following Jesus with all your heart, mind and soul – you have not given ‘all’ to God. Perhaps such people, who demonstrate a limited involvement in serving God, don’t fully believe in His saving work; yet, like to put a deposit on an ‘eternal insurance policy’ – just in case, the good news is true. Are these people saved from the fires of hell? What’s your view?

Prepare!

The verses set for reading and meditation are Proverbs 6:1-11 (NLT):

“My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger – if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said – follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased. Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do. Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net.

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”

These verses perhaps are a good example of the type of proverb where we need to have a clear view of what they are actually teaching. The above verses (first half) are not saying to me that you should not go guarantee for a debt, but that you should not do so in a foolish manner. For example, to guarantee the debt of a stranger when you know nothing of their capacity to repay their debt, would be foolish. It could be that you are going guarantee for the debt –  to impress your new ‘friend’ – clearly, the wrong motive. The second part of the above verses are teaching us that laziness is wrong and we should take note of the ants – even they have ‘learnt’ the value of preparation and hard work.

Selwyn has captured this idea very well: “The picture of the ant is one that you should keep continually in your mind. It is an image included in the Word of God in order to bring instruction to the heart. Prepare for the future in every way you can, not only by denying yourself the things that God puts out of bounds, but also by giving yourself to the things you need to know to increase your effectiveness in your chosen profession or vocation. Whatever you plan to do in the days ahead of you – prepare for it. Prepare by study and also by prayer.”

I would add – that God uses all of His followers, in some way or other, for work in His harvest field – to bring others into a relationship with Jesus. An excellent way to prepare for this work is to immerse yourself in God’s Word – Scripture. Develop a habit to read a part of the Bible every day – even if it’s only a few verses at a time! Your relationship with Jesus will continue to grow as you read His Word.

Take it on faith!

We join with Selwyn for another day looking at his third pillar of wisdom – personal purity.

I liked this bit in today’s study: “There’s not much point in confessing to be a follower of Jesus Christ if you don’t believe what He tells you in His Word (Scripture) and change it to suit your convenience. Passion has always been a problem, but wisdom and passion must be properly related. You must recognise the necessity of learning to wait (especially regarding sexual activity, it’s only blessed within marriage), which is one of the first evidences that you are growing in maturity.”

Selwyn’s message ends with the key statement: “You must learn to deny yourself now so that in the future you may experience the right thing in the right way.” 

Perhaps, this last statement, can be taken even further, with some people; it could be the case that they may need to sacrifice a specific activity for their entire lives, for spiritual reasons The important point is that we are only on this earth for eighty or so years – this means that you have something less than 80 years to demonstrate by your free-will actions, your response to God’s unmerited love. The consequences of your response, will be with you  – not for eighty years, or eight hundred billion years, or 10 to the power  of 23 trillion years; but forever.  It sort of puts the sacrifices of this life into perspective, our whole life here on earth is less (in proportion) than a heart beat in the next life.

What do you think?

Don’t go on his ground

Selwyn continues his discussion on the third pillar of wisdom – personal purity.

He re-enforces his message from yesterday ” … If we were to accept and put into practice the principle of not allowing ourselves to get into difficult situations … it would make a world of difference to the matter of temptation. … The best strategy with temptation is not to go near it.”

Without God’s help, we don’t have the ability to see through the Devil’s deceptive ways. If we venture into the Devil’s territory, we allow ourselves to be deceived by the master of illusion. In his dark world, we become emotionally confused and will grab hold of anything that appears to satisfy our inner need for love. He keeps us on his ground, by convincing us, that ‘this, is all there is’. On his ground: our view of love becomes distorted; the value we place on life is eroded; and, the hope we have in tomorrow, evaporates. Only Jesus, can save us from this slavery – to fear and death.

Do you agree?

I think today’s prayer is great: “O God, make me alert to the dangers that beset my path, and if I do move towards them unsuspectingly, grant that warning bells may ring in my heart. I know You will do Your part; help me do mine. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.”

Take another path

The text for today’s reading and meditation come from Proverbs 5:1-14 (NLT):

My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel. Then you will show discernment, and your lips will express what you’ve learned.

For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey (this also applies to an immoral man), and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. For she cares nothing about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.

So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: Stay away from her! Don’t go near the door of her house! (Take another path.) If you do (go to her), you will lose your honor and will lose to merciless people all you have achieved. Strangers will consume your wealth, and someone else will enjoy the fruit of your labor.

In the end you will groan in anguish when disease consumes your body. You will say, “How I hated discipline! If only I had not ignored all the warnings! Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers? Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors? I have come to the brink of utter ruin, and now I must face public disgrace.”

Notice the general outcomes that often flow from an immoral life: public disgrace; disease that consumes your body, and others will consume your wealth.  Yet, you may know a few immoral people who don’t outwardly demonstrate any of these outcomes; however, there is one outcome, which a habitually immoral person, cannot escape (without God’s intervention) – eternal death.

Selwyn now looks at a third pillar of wisdom – personal purity.

He says: “We live in an age that largely ignores the biblical teaching that enjoins us to keep sexual intercourse until marriage. Some sections of the Church now accept ‘the new morality’ which says that sexual relationships outside marriage are fine providing they are conducted in a loving and a non-manipulative relationship. I have no hesitation in rejecting this, both as non biblical and anti-relationship.

The emphasis of Proverbs at this point is to avoid putting yourself in a position of temptation – to keep well away from the danger of seduction.”

Are you constantly faced with elements of seduction when you enter various social interaction programs or chat rooms, on the Internet? If so, then don’t go there!

Are you often faced with sexual temptation when you watch certain TV shows or videos, or read certain magazines?  If so, then don’t watch the shows or buy/read that magazine!

Are you always feeling bombarded by sexual overtones; when out, at your favourite bar, club or disco? If so, then don’t go there!

Are there groups of people, or a particular person, with whom you mix with – who, often turn the conversation around to sexual themes or activities? If so, keep your distance and take another path to a different group or person.

If you seek God’s help, in prayer, to take steps that avoid putting yourself in a position of temptation. I think, you will be amazed how easy, it will be, to ‘not go there’; even with the social pressures that may be on you from friends, to conform to the ways of this sexual world. What’s your view?