Neither Poverty Nor Riches

Neither Poverty Nor Riches

“…give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me. Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Proverbs 30:8-9 Most wealthy people handle their wealth poorly, allowing it to warp their values and hurt their lives. Admitting this to be true, most people who are not wealthy nevertheless feel that they are an exception; they can handle wealth. The love of money finds its origin in our desire to avoid the pain of financial insecurity. The phrase “he is financially independent” means that he is insulated from the gyrations of an uncertain economy. God does not want you “independent,” but rather dependent upon Him. People perceive money as the key to freedom, and thus their goal is in conflict with God’s goal for them. The servant of Christ understands this tension between his appetite and God’s will, and prays for the balance between poverty and riches. He knows in his depravity that he can err in either direction of greed and pride; in his greed he steals and in his pride he renounces his need of God. He asks and receives not “because he asks amiss that he may consume it upon his lusts.” (James 4:3) Agur, the writer of this proverb, offers a prayer that is an accurate test of a man of God. He seeks for deliverance from both extremes, knowing that greed can easily overpower his conscience. He throws himself upon the mercy of God, asking that the Lord give him...
Preparing For Judgment

Preparing For Judgment

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” John 5:22 How do you prepare for the day when you must stand before Jesus and be judged by Him? Obviously, you must school yourself in being His obedient slave. As Jesus Himself modeled: “…I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30  More than life, you want to please your Master, even if it means appearing foolish in the sight of others. A slave should have no expectations. If you view yourself as the property of Jesus Christ, and He does something you do not like, if He offends your sense of justice, that is His prerogative. When you take His yoke, you go and do what He wants, not what you want. You are involved in the lives of people because that is His will for your life. Again and again Scripture reminds you that people will abuse you. Even though you are fair, helpful, and kind to others, it is unrealistic to expect others to treat you the same way. Because you understand your depravity and propensity to sin, you prepare for Judgment by living a life of perpetual repentance before Him. You are best served if you condemn yourself before God and hope that He will see things differently when He judges you, rather than justifying yourself and finding that He sees things differently when He judges you. For more articles by Walt...
The Twin Pillars of Faith

The Twin Pillars of Faith

“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” Isaiah 46:10 If you desire a satisfactory relationship with God, two pillars must be firmly anchored in your life. You must believe that He is in control and that He has your best interest at heart. The sovereignty of God must be a deeply held conviction. When my son was dying of leukemia, a friend wrote, “I don’t know how this tragedy came about, but I do know that it did not come from God. God is not in the business of killing little children.” As I pondered his observation, I concluded that if God did not kill my son, then I have a far greater problem than my son dying. I worship a god who is not in control. God was not sitting on the edge of the universe chagrined over the disease that ravaged my son’s life. As I held my son in my arms while he slipped into eternity, I knew that I was experiencing the beautiful handiwork of God. This naturally leads to the second essential pillar: The goodness of God. God is good. He is incapable of doing anything but good. The debate, like so many debates in life, is over who gets to determine what good looks like. Do you truly believe that the hurts of life come from the hand of a good God who only does what is best for you? The writer of Hebrews, quoting from the Psalmist says, “The Lord...
Refusing To Think

Refusing To Think

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7 It occurs to me that people who live iniquitous lives tend not to spend much time thinking; the experience is too painful.  Most of us cannot think on the past without regret, and the more acute the regret the greater the temptation to fill one’s life with distractions so as not to have to think. So too, most arguments in the body of Christ flow from disagreements regarding doctrine rather than moral issues.  Because biblical commands are unambiguous, and because conscience affirms most moral absolutes, the reprobate may plead for tolerance, but rarely does he seek to defend that which his conscience condemns. Professing Christians who live (or have lived) immoral lives, therefore, tend to embrace those practices derived from tradition rather than serious reflection on Scripture, such as praying to icons and insisting on experience-centered worship.  The deeper a man thinks on biblical truth, the more aware he becomes of his depravity, and if his sins prove too painful to contemplate, he ceases thinking, fills his life with activity. Paul offers the antidote to this happening: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  Philippians 4:8 The “things” referred to by Paul are found in Scripture.  To the degree that you mediate on the Word of God, He will deliver you from a vacuous, sinful life. For more articles by Walt...
Entanglements

Entanglements

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” 2Timothy 2:4 The picture is a soldier trying to fight while being engulfed in a net. He may be engaged in the affairs of life, but he keeps himself from becoming entangled in them. This is the warrior’s code. Paul was a tentmaker, and from this we learn that the issue is not vocation. Rather, it deals with focus, purpose, values, hope, and motivation; making a good product in you labor differs from seeking significance from your labor. That this is a vexing issue in men’s lives can be seen by strangers asking, “What do you do for a living?” rather than “What are you doing with your life?” The world insists on evaluating your worth by success in your vocation, while God insists that your worth is derived from His imputing to you a value you would not otherwise have. The Bible does not call for celibacy or other forms of asceticism. You cannot dictate to God what serving Christ looks like. Endeavoring to do so is an indication that you are entangled. This is a decision that God must make, and although the decision is subjective in nature, each believer must determine for himself what God thinks being free from “entanglement” means for his life. For more articles by Walt...