Holy fear is healthy and wise

Pondering Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV
“At the end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

My take: Solomon should know. Being raised up under Israel’s greatest King (David), he had a 1st hand account of the rise and fall and rise of this outstanding man of God. After all, Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba. I find it amazing how God can use sin, failure and our own bloody mistakes and still accomplishes His will and wonder. He grants us free will and in spite of our often running off the road, he can turn the crash into something amazing. Beauty from ashes. Look at the cross! No greater example.

There is no other God like Him!

Solomon, after being anointed King, remained humble. God himself rewarded Solomon and asked what he wanted. Solomon was very profound and asked for wisdom to be a good ruler. God therefore gave him wisdom and then some. Solomon became the wisest and richest person to date and perhaps in all history. So after all his amazing accomplishments and lavish life, he distills it all that right here in this verse: Fear God and keep His commandments!

Unfortunately, Solomon didn’t heed his own advice totally and we definitely learn more isn’t always better yet there is a lot we can learn from this man.

By reading Proverbs, Psalms and other writings by David and Solomon there is this consistent key; Fear God. This means to respect and honor Him. To take heed of His wishes and authority. Not to take His grace, patience and blessings for granted.

And we are to keep His commandments dutifully. Not when it feels convenient but with all diligence and earnestness. Back in the O.T., these commandments we quite extensive and laborious. Jesus simplified and focused these commands.

In 1 John 5:3 we read, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”

The closer we abide in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, the more this becomes our very nature.

Jesus summed it up in Matthew 22:37-40. “And He (Jesus) said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

No doubt, in our own human strength and personal perspective, this is impossible. I prove that to my self all too often and imagine you do as well. But if we understand our salvation was (or can be) of grace and what our Leader wants and demands, then we are on the right road. Amen? Amen!

My prayer: Lord, you know my heart is inclined to wander. Direct it to the center of Your will. Empower my will to be like thine. Help me to love thee will all my heart, soul, and mind! And to pay that forward each and every day!

Pondering Proverbs 25:2

Pondering Proverbs 25:2 (Nov 25)
“It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.”

My take: That’s a fact. God Himself is the ultimate mystery. His designs, creations and paradoxes are truly awesome and mind numbing. Do we think about what we think about? Are we just some cosmic accident or do we have a higher calling than self fulfillment? Is there a purpose in all this mess?

Key words: glory, conceal, search

My prayer: Your ways are truly above our ways. Please help me to focus on what matters and keep searching and knowing You and your amazing creation each day.

Pondering Psalms 119:11

Pondering Psalms 119:11
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

My take: Man becomes what he thinks about. That is an enourmous thought, opportunity and responsibility. Junk in, junk out…good in, good out.

What is it that you treasure?

God tells us the wisdom found within His Word is more valuable than anything physical. Do you buy that?

And today it is free but far from cheap. We are so blessed but its sad that its so often ignored, dissmissed, belittled and squandered. Its opponents are many yet its power and preemminance go unchallenged.

Let’s be like David and store the Word up in our hearts. Not just intellectual knowledge but a personal guide and fine filter. Much like a computer’s anti-virus and a vehicle’s GPS. We have the ability to program our subconscious mind for amazing tasks. Its tough being me and I certainly need every resource I can muster to win and hope that I might not sin.

My prayer: Help me to be ALL I can by focusing, meditating and memorizing Your Holy Book.

God is for us

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 ESV

RELEVANT SCRIPTURES

Psalm 118:6
The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?

Isaiah 8:10
“Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; State a proposal, but it will not stand, For God is with us.”

Isaiah 41:10
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Matthew 1:23
“Behold! The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means, “God with us”).

SELECT COMMENTARY

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
What shall we then say to these things? Either to these afflictions, shall we murmur and repine at them? no, since they work together for our good, and are not to be compared with our future glory, which is certain; for if we suffer with, and for Christ, we shall be glorified together: or to these blessings just now mentioned, as the foreknowledge of God, divine predestination, effectual calling, free justification, and eternal glorification, what can be said to these? nothing can be added to them, they are a complete set of blessings, wanting nothing; nor can the greatness of them be fully expressed, or the freeness of God’s grace displayed in them, sufficiently declared: what remains for us to do, but to be thankful for them, and glory in them? or what can be said “against” them? nothing at all, they cannot be contradicted or gainsaid; they are true and faithful sayings; they can never be made void, and of no effect, by hell or earth; nor ought our unbelieving hearts to have anything to say against interest in them: or what is to be said, or inferred “from” them? why, the free, sovereign, unchangeable, and everlasting love of God, in providing and bestowing such benefits; and the certainty of salvation, which is infallibly secured hereby:

if God be for us; or, “seeing he is for us”, has an affection for us, which appears from the gift of himself, Son, and Spirit, and all the blessings of grace and glory; and is on our side: as that he is on the side of his people, is evident from his preservation of them from the evils of the world and their own corruptions; from the supports he gives them under afflictions and temptations; from his carrying on the work of grace upon them, notwithstanding all the opposition made unto it; and from their safety and security they enjoy by him, notwithstanding the power of their enemies; he is so for them, and on their side, as that he will certainly save them. This he has determined to do, he has sent his Son to obtain salvation for them, his Spirit to apply it to them, and keeps them by his power to the full enjoyment of it: and since this is the case,

who can be against us? none can be against them. There are some that cannot possibly be against them; if Jehovah the Father is not against them, the Son cannot be against them, nor the Spirit; good angels cannot be against them, so far from it, that they rejoice at their good, minister to them, and are a guard about them; the law cannot be against them, because it is fulfilled in them; nor justice, because it is satisfied, and all its demands answered: and though there may be some who may be against them, and oppose themselves to them, yet their opposition is to no purpose; they will never prevail over them to their ruin and destruction; as neither sin, nor Satan, nor the world, nor death itself.

MY PONDERING

These are deep and amazing questions. What is God for?

The Bible tells us directly, in spite of our biases. Nature reflects to us, despite her marring. Our conscience whispers to our souls while the noise of life carries on.

Often times what is hard is for our good because God is that awesome. Only He can turn the frown upside down for eternity. I mean just look at the Cross. Despicable and brutal yet wonderful and loving.

Paul answered this question for us so eloquently in one of my favorite verses, just 3 prior to the passage at hand, Romans 8:28; And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

If we have faith and believe that, it is so. If we don’t, it is not…at least, yet.

Ultimately, Satan is crushed. Jesus reigns on Earth without the angst of sin and our broken relationship is fully mended. Our perseverance is rewarded. Our current hard circumstances and momentary afflictions will seem like nothing when our eternal reality is revealed. Our reward is none other than Jesus. To be like Him and truly know Him. Yes, God is for us. Hang on brothers and sisters, for He is holding us while the preparation is underway.

MY PRAYER
Lord, some of the concepts in Your word are truly mind blowing. Help me truly take hold and enjoy the ride of life knowing deep down that as long as I respond to Your love with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength while trusting Your Spirit and Jesus’s mighty work to bridge the gap, my lot is sure and secure for Your Word says so. Amen and amen.

Thanksgiving

Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. Psalm 100:4

RELEVANT SCRIPTURE

1 Chronicles 29:13
“Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.

Psalm 95:2
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

Psalm 96:2
Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

2 Cor 2:14
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

SELECT COMMENTARY

Matthew Henry 100:1-5
An exhortation to praise God, and rejoice in him. – This song of praise should be considered as a prophecy, and even used as a prayer, for the coming of that time when all people shall know that the Lord he is God, and shall become his worshippers, and the sheep of his pasture. Great encouragement is given us, in worshipping God, to do it cheerfully. If, when we strayed like wandering sheep, he has brought us again to his fold, we have indeed abundant cause to bless his name. The matter of praise, and the motives to it, are very important. Know ye what God is in himself, and what he is to you. Know it; consider and apply it, then you will be more close and constant, more inward and serious, in his worship. The covenant of grace set down in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, with so many rich promises, to strengthen the faith of every weak believer, makes the matter of God’s praise and of his people’s joys so sure, that how sad soever our spirits may be when we look to ourselves, yet we shall have reason to praise the Lord when we look to his goodness and mercy, and to what he has said in his word for our comfort.

MY PONDERING

What a wonderful word and holiday we celebrate in Thanksgiving. Upon reflecting upon its original proclamation in these United States, first by Washington and then by Lincoln, upon the country enduring much hardship, they both found a spirit of thankfulness to God almighty.

How might this be true in our own individual lives?

Do we not have our own internal and external conflicts?

For Jesus said we must take up our own cross if we are to be His disciple.

Yes, life is hard but God is good. Better is He. Let’s not forget traveller, this is not our forever home but a mere generational stop in the realm of eternity.

Let us remember and ponder that we were created in the image of God, Genesis 1:27 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

But then the great rift in our relationship with our Maker occured when our original parents willful disobeyed and ushered sin into the world.

Thankfully, our mutual story and hope doesn’t end there️. The 2nd and better Adam, Jesus Himself, has given each of us a mighty reason to be thankful back then and now. God, though clearly upset, provided for the original Adam and Eve of their original sin, as He has done of us…this very day.

It’s so easy and natural to drift away from God; so easy to focus on our marred selfishness; so easy to focus on our problems. With that honest truth for me and I suspect you too, are not our blessings much fuller and plentiful than our sorrows?

Just being born in this great country has enabled us to be the most prosperous people in all of history in a physical state.

I am thankful for this family, fellowship and food. I am thankful the food is plentiful. Thankful for those who worked to prepare and for the means to purchase it and all who contributed. I am thankful for my home. My children. My wife. For my life. And most thankful for my God, Who makes all things possible.

If you do not have a relationship with our Maker, i would be regretful if I did not urge to seek Him while it’s still light.

God has given us much… Let us give thanks. Let us find ways to give. That is what Thanksgiving is about afterall.

MY PRAYER

LORD of the harvest, thank You first and foremost for all You have done, do this day and shall do forevermore.

Pondering Proverbs 18:20 — 18:21

Pondering Proverbs 18:20 — 18:21
“From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;
he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

My take: This is quite an interesting passage. There is power in words backed up by faith and belief. Thoughts influence emotions and emotions touch actions. Words, thoughts and emotions expressed, have a dynamic cause and effect. The writer here referring to ‘fruit’ as expressing good, choice and healthy language. Thinking and acting upon such results in satisfaction of tangible and untangible. Even death and life may be influenced by the power of our words. With that said, we still are governed by the principles established by God and His good and pleasing will.

Action words: from fruit of mouth, satisfied, power, eat fruit

My prayer: Lord, help me to thrive; focused on all that is good, true and pleasing to You.

Cooperation; our little part, God’s big part

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD. – Proverbs 21:31

RELEVANT SCRIPTURE

1 Corinthians 15:57
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Psalm 3:8
Salvation belongs to the LORD; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.

Psalm 20:7
Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.

Psalm 33:17
A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.

Isaiah 31:1
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help And rely on horses, And trust in chariots because they are many And in horsemen because they are very strong, But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!

Jeremiah 3:23
“Surely, the hills are a deception, A tumult on the mountains. Surely in the LORD our God Is the salvation of Israel.

1st Corinthians 3:6
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

SELECT COMMENTARY

Verse 31. – The horse is prepared against the clay of battle. The horse is an emblem of military power and activity. To the earlier Jews, who were unaccustomed to its use, and indeed forbidden to employ it (Deuteronomy 17:16), the horse and horse-drawn chariots were objects of extreme terror (Joshua 17:16; Judges 4:3), and though Solomon had largely imported them from Egypt (1 Kings 4:26; 1 Kings 10:26, etc.), these animals were used exclusively for war, and, at this time, their services were never applied to agricultural purposes.

The proverb asserts that, though all preparations are made for the battle, and material forces are of the best and strongest description, but safety (victory) is of the Lord (see Psalm 20:7; Psalm 33:16, etc.). Septuagint, “But from the Lord is the help (ἡ βοήθεια).” The great truth here taught may be applied to spiritual matters. The only safety against spiritual enemies is the grace of God; we can cry, with St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:57), “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “By the name ‘horse,'” says St. Gregory (‘Moral.,’ 31:43), “is understood the preparation of right intention, as it is written, ‘The horse is prepared,’ etc.; because the mind prepares itself indeed against temptation, but contends not healthfully unless it be assisted from above.”

MY PONDERING

Does God help those who help themselves?

Does God help those who help others?

Our help comes from the Lord.

I think its clear in Scripture that He does. We must do our little part to respond, to embrace and to align our will in accord with His will.

In Isaiah 30:18 we find these wonderful word, “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.”

Let us all long for Him, seek Him while it’s still daylight, while we have this fleeting, fragile life.

We who are aware the great battle is foremost a spiritual battle, must strap on the armor of God as found in Ephesians 6 and trust in the Lord for His help. We need to hold onto and contend with faith and perseverance not in our might but His.

I love this saying, “All I can do is all I can do but all I can do is enough…. LORD willing.” I first came across this saying from the book by the same title written by Art Williams. After several years, I added the ’….Lord willing’, to it as it seemed fitting.

Jesus Himself said in regard building ‘The House on the Rock’ in Luke 6:47-49:
“I will show you what he is like who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid his foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the torrent crashed against that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears My words and does not act on them is like a man who built his house on ground without a foundation. The torrent crashed against that house, and immediately it collapsed—and great was its destruction.”

We, you and I, must act. Didn’t you see that?

Either way, we must build the house. We must prepare the horse. Our lack of purpose is no excuse. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Like Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, ”He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.“

How about the golden nuggets?

But you, beloved, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, Jude 1:3

… urge you to contend earnestly for the faith entrusted once for all to the saints. Jude 1:20

Victory is mine, victory is mine, praise the Lord, victory is mine.
Won’t you sing it? Check this spirited rendition.

MY PRAYER

Indeed (in deed) it His victory is mine. Hallelujah!

Pondering Proverbs 14:35 – Dealing Wisely

Pondering Proverbs 14:35 (Nov 14)
“A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor,
but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.”

My take: Now we don’t have many kings these days but we certainly have bosses, managers, owners, and customers we deal with. The best leaders and workers are one’s who serve and look 1st as what they can give rather than get. Certainly Jesus is the pinnacle of this in action. Yet those who think and thus act shamefully reap wrath and bring upon themselves loss. As an owner of s small business, I have witnessed this more than one too many times and seeing it play out once again. Trust takes a while to establish but it can be lost in a heartbeat.

Action words: deals wisely, acts shamefully, wrath falls

Key word: favor [fey-ver]
noun

  1. something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice or for remuneration; a kind act:
  2. friendly or well-disposed regard; goodwill: to win the favor of the king.
  3. the state of being approved or held in regard: to be in favor at court; styles that are now in favor.
  4. excessive kindness or unfair partiality; preferential treatment: to treat some people with favor and others with neglect.
  5. a gift bestowed as a token of goodwill, kind regard, love, etc., as formerly upon a knight by his lady.
  6. a ribbon, badge, etc., worn in evidence of goodwill or loyalty, as by an adherent of a political party.
  7. a small gift or decorative or festive item, as a noisemaker or paper hat, often distributed to guests at a party.

My prayer: Lord, lets us look to you for the best example of a servant lifestyle. I thank you for your longsuffering and tremendous grace. Help me to make the most of my time, talent and treasure so that You find room for favor and avoid dispensing wrath.

Consider your ways!

Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”

Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts:

“Consider your ways!

“You have sown much, and bring in little;

You eat, but do not have enough;

You drink, but you are not filled with drink;

You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;

And he who earns wages,

Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the LORD.

“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the LORD of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.

Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”

Haggai 1:3-11

Today, God’s Spirit dwells in Christ loving hearts beyond the confines of His temple. He says it twice in this brief passage, “Consider your ways!”. Both times with the explanation mark!

There is an important lesson to heed here. A primary purpose of our creation have a relationship, to live a life in which God takes pleasure in while being glorified.

When we allow that supernatural process to occur, His nature is to bless that for He is good.

If we ignore Him, if we shun Him, if we are unrepentant, if we live in gross filth, debauchery, lewdness and immorality the consequence is depravity and emptiness as clearly explained in the vernacular of those ancient days.

Times have changed but God’s perfect core shall never change.

Therefore, God calls us to love Him with ALL of heart, soul, mind and strength as commandment #1 and then love others as #2. Loving ourselves is expected and natural. When we get the first two right, the third will be healthy.

I am third for givers gain.

So reader of this – Consider your ways!

That we may DO

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

Deuteronomy 29:29

My take: Christ said He came to fulfill the law not entirely abolish it. No doubt He did what we were unable regarding the law but there is still responsibility upon Christians to DO.

To abide,

to obey,

to fear God,

to not fear the world,

to pray,

to believe,

to witness ,

to testify,

to worship,

to love God,

to love others,

to overcome,

and to receive His Word and grace.

If we aren’t careful, it is easy to get lost in and be confounded upon all the vast mysterious things of God. If this happens, we may lose sight and focus of the main things.

This verse prompts us to keep the main things front and center. Talk is cheap and action is dear. We must DO. We must DO not as our wondering heart feels but rather what God sets forth as first and foremost.