Category: Christian Living

Reaping what you sow (Proverbs 12:14b) (Part 2)

Our Six Basic Responsibilities:

1. Our Words/Actions – Proverbs 14:8,14 “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way…the backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied with his” For an Individual to enjoy his spiritual and mental health, he has to take hold of his life, as a child of God, and be responsible and accountable for his words/actions, both as benefit and the penalty. He must try not to shift the blame onto others or circumstances, for his failures. Developing this attitude helps him to understand his weaknesses and strengths, and thus, take advantage of the principle of “sowing and reaping,” – overcomes his weaknesses and builds on his strengths.

2. Make Proper Choices – God created us, Individually, with a free-will with the right to choose. If we do what is right, underpinned by God’s Love, we will reap the benefits of our choice: “A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naïve proceed and pay the penalty” (Proverbs 27:12). The right to choose and to make decision is ours, Divinely given, and we should make the best of it.

3. Do Our Best – Proverbs 18:9 “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.” Generally, an Individual’s mindset is to do as little as possible, with short-cuts, and expects great result; whereas “wisdom’s way,” is to do our best; to work to the uttermost perimeter of our God’s given talents and abilities, – reaping the benefits of hard work and diligent – Proverbs 22:29 “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.” Laziness is self-destructive – Proverbs 12:24 “The hand of the diligent will rules, but the lazy man will be put to forced labour.

4. Continuous LearningProverbs 19:2 “It is not good for a person to be without knowledge.” The moment we stop learning and adjusting, we begin to back-slide in our God’s given gifting and ability. Life will not alter to suit our situation; we need to read and adjust and take hold of the best, in the situation. We are responsible to educate ourselves on the things of life – be STREET-WISEMatthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye, therefore, wise as a serpent and harmless as doves.”

5. Doing to OthersProverbs 11:27 “He who diligently seeks good seeks favour, but he who searches after evil, it will come to him” The Bible teaches that “we do unto others, as we desire others to do unto us – Matthew 7:12 “Therefore, all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you: do you even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets…..shall also do to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  Cain’s question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Was a rhetorical question. We are responsible not to impose upon the welfare of others and to consider how our actions will affect them. Remember, we will receive back in kind the blessing or the misery we bring into the lives of others.

6. Good Conscience

Proverbs 28:18 “He whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but he whose ways are perverse will suddenly fall.” & Proverbs 21:3 “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Our words/deeds must all be done in good conscience – Acts 23:1b “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” Thus, in the law of “sowing and reaping,” we are first and foremost accountable to ourselves. When we are faced with a choice our criteria for judging what we should do should not be based on what others will think or what is in it for us, but solely on what is right (before God and our conscience). What we say and do must be right in the sight of God based on right motives and attitude, must leave us with a comfortable conscience. One of the ways to make our lives meaningful and easier is to live within the realm God’s Word – Hebrews 4:12 “For the Word (logos) of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Reaping what you sow (Proverbs 12:14b) (Part 1)

The Statement

Proverbs 12:14b “The deeds of a man’s hands will return to him.”

Law of Nature

Sowing and reaping is a universal law of nature, set-in-place by God. Every Farmer expects a harvest when he sows/plants; he knows that, except for the unforeseen weather conditions or natural disasters, he will be able to reap for the finance, time, and labour he invested. This law of “sowing & reaping,” applies to the physical world, but God has created within His universe a spiritual ecology, a principle of recompense that governs our actions and behaviour.Scripture teaches that for everything we do there is a consequence that is commensurate with the deed. This law of recompense (reward), is stated in God’s Word (Scripture):

  • Proverbs 12:14b “The deeds of a man’s hands will return to him.”
  • Galatians 6:7 explains: “Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”
  • Proverbs 11:18 “He who sows righteousness gets a true reward.”

These are God’s Great Promise, taken in the positive aspects. To a large extent we can determine the results of our actions by what we do and how we do it; since we can choose what to sow, we can dictate what return to us

  • Newton’s Third Law of Motion: “To every force and action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” 
  • Carousel Theory: “What goes around, comes around” – What we do boomerangs – it comes back to us in kind.

In a Situation – If we cannot control our temper, in a tense situation, we will get turmoil in return as Proverbs 15:18 warns: “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife.”  But, if we take hold of ourselves even when provoked, the end-result would be different, as “The (one who is) slow to anger pacifies contention…A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:18, 1). 

First Principle

We must Sow before We ReapGalatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” A seed that is not planted will not bear fruits. Planting carries with it the expectation of harvest. The human counterpart of this law of nature is that once we have done something we can never undo it:

  1. The result is beyond our control once a deed/word has been done/spoken.
  2. The result is predetermined by our action and once begun, is irreversible.
  3. A deed, once done, cannot be undone, All, we can do is live with the consequence, be it bitter or sweet.

Peter Marshall wisely observed that “small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” The only way we can reap is to sow. Thus, we must consciously sow “God’s Goodness & Love” among us and to the people.

Second Principle

We Reap What We SowProverbs 10:4 “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” & Proverbs 10:16 “The wages of the righteous bring them life, but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.” The nature of the reward is determined by what we “sow.” Righteousness is imbedded with its own reward, as with wrongful action/word. The results that are produced by our action/word will resemble those action/word. Every deed is followed by its corresponding effect. We reap whatever we sow.

Third Principle

We will Reap in Proper Time – Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Paul said that “in proper time we shall reap.” “In proper time” may be right away or a long time off because what we do can have one of two results: Immediate or delayed. This principle implies that we must consider the final, long-term results of our actions/words rather than immediate satisfactions. What we do now may affect the total scope of our life and the lives of others, months or even years from now.

Fourth Principle

We Reap More than We SowProverbs 11:24-25 “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper.” Again, this is illustrated in the physical world – “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains (just one grain; never becomes more but lives by itself alone). But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest” (John 12:24, AMP). The Word of God warns: “He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly” (2Corinthians 9:6).

To be continued….. Stay Tuned…..

Forgiveness (Matthew 6:12) (Part 1)

Scripture:  

Matthew 6:12 “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors” (NIV).

Unforgiveness is the greatest single barrier that exists amongst professing Christians. From Calvary onwards, if there is any barrier between God and men, they are on men’s side and not on God’s side. From the Death, Burial and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ all the barriers are down on God’s side. If any there is any kind of barrier on our spiritual progress, something that is holding us back, frustrating us, holding us down, keeping us from the peace, satisfaction, the fulfilment, that we long to have, that the barrier is on men’s side and not on God’s side. The greatest single barrier to in Christians to God’s Peace and Perfect Rest is unforgiveness. 

Forgiveness resulted in reconciliation, peace, harmony, understanding, and fellowship. The world stands in need of these things. The failure to forgive resulted in bitterness, strive, disharmony, hatred, war. These negative feelings can only be dealt with as we learn and apply the Principle of Forgiveness. There are two directions of forgiveness represented in the Bible. These two directions are well portrayed by that great symbol of our Christian faith, the Cross. The Cross has two beams, one vertical and one horizontal. And these two beams represent the two directions of forgiveness:

  • The vertical beam represents the forgiveness that we all need to receive from God through the Lord Jesus Christ as to our Christian Faith.
  • The horizontal beam represents our relationship with our fellow men. It speaks of the forgiveness, which in this case is two ways: the forgiveness we need to receive from others and the forgiveness we need to give to others. Once again, the only place where we can receive the grace for that kind of forgiveness is the Cross.

The Lord’s Prayer – When Jesus commented on the Lord’s Prayer, the only part that He comment on is Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” That is the source of all the problems the Person faces who does not forgive. That Person does not have God’s forgiveness. Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that sinned against us:

The Person cannot ask God for forgiveness if he does not forgive others. The Person is entitled to God’s forgiveness in the same proportion that he forgives others but not more. If that Person does not forgive others their sins, God will not forgive him, his sins.

Matthew 6:13“Deliver us from the evil one.” – The Person has no right to pray that Prayer until the Person confesses, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespasses against us” (Matthew 6:12). Obtain God’s forgiveness settled, then deliverance is not a problem. If the Person is not in a forgiving spirit and attitude towards any Person who has offended him, the Devil has a legal claim against that Person life – If there is any area of unforgiven offend in the Person’s life, that an area to which Satan has a legal claim. The Person cannot get Satan out of that area of his life. If there is anyone whom the Person has not forgiven, in that proportion the Person is not forgiven by God and because the Person is not forgiven in that area, the Devil has a legal claim over that Person life. Therefore, the Person cannot have deliverance until the Person has freely forgiven “ought against any.

Parable of Unforgiving Servant

Matthew 18:15-35, our Lord Jesus Christ reveals the life of the Church – Right relationship among the Members of the Body of Christ, and with others. He (Jesus) laid down the steps in Restoration:

  • Steps in Restoration of Relationship between Offending Christians (Matthew 18:15-17).
  • Power house of Right Relationship (Matthew 18:18-20).
  • Attitude of Forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-23).
  • The Parable on Forgiveness (Matthew 18:24-35).

The Comment of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Parable: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts, forgive not everyone his brother his trespasses” (Matthew 18:35). Our Lord Jesus does not leave it as a Parable, but He (Jesus) applies it specifically to each of us. He warned us of the consequence of unforgiveness. The warning comes from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ. No one was more ready to forgive than our Lord Jesus Christ, but He set certain Principle – “If we want to be forgiven by God, we must forgive others.” Our Lord Jesus warns us of the consequences of failure to forgive:

  • Wickedness (Matthew 18:32) = Unforgiveness is not only sin but Wickedness in God’s Sight.
  • God’s Anger (Matthew 18:34). Unforgiveness provokes God’s Anger, because there is an exact parallel between the Master and the Servant and God and Us.
  • Unforgiveness delivers us to the Tormentors (Matthew 18:34). The torment is in three Areas: Physical, mental, and spiritual. Today, there are multitude of Christians that have been delivered to the Tormentors because they failed to forgive those that have offended them.

When God delivers the unforgiving Christian to the Tormentors. No Pastor can deliver that Person out of the Tormentor. The Person has to meet God’s Condition, that is to forgive before he can be delivered from the hands of the Tormentor. Forgiveness must be from the heart (Matthew 18:35).

To be continued….. Stay tuned.

When A Person Slips and Falls (Job 12:5)

The Scripture

Job 12: 5 “He that is ready to slip with his feet is like a lamp (torch) despised in the thought of him that is at ease.”

How often have the Christians put on their “gossip list” instead of on their prayers list of the Person who has slipped and fallen! How easy for those who are at ease to mouth their glib commonplaces in their still secure and comfortable world! In sheer exasperation Job bewails the whole situation, because of his (Job’s) troubles, a man of godly character (Job 1:1, 8b, 20-22; Job 2:3, 10) is treated like a simpleton or criminal on the basis of a theory that is contradicted by another (equally distressing) fact, namely, that robbers are prospering while he (Job) is reduced to such mockery (Study the Book of Job for this understanding).

Until we suffer, we can never share the pain of the Person who suffers, nor understand the attitude of the scorn with which healthy and comfortable people treat the Sufferer. Job, once the most respected and renowned man of his day (Job 1:3), lamented: “I have become a laughingstock to my friends” (Job 12:4). Job, the Person who is handicapped by lost and adversity, – Job who suffered loss of properties, children and experiencing the physical bodily ailments and mental anguish (Job 1:14-19; Job 2:7-8, 11a, 12a, 13b) is doubly afflicted by this attitude of “a (disaster) is despised in the thought of one who is at ease” (Job 12:5b). People around him (Job) avoided him, talk down to him, and assume his handicap cripples the total Personality (Study the Book of Job, for details).

Torch Discarded – Job laments “He that is ready to slip with his feet” and says: “is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.” The word “lamp” is really “torch.” In the Middle-Eastern Culture, when the Traveller reached his destination after journeying through the darkness of the night, he threw aside the torch that had guided his steps. Job likens himself to the torch. He (Job) had aided his friends and relatives when he was in a position to help, but now that he has lost everything they throw him aside. They make him the subject of mockery – Job 12:4-5 “I am one mocked by his friends,….the just and blameless who is ridiculed. A lamp is despised in the thought of one who is at ease; it is made ready for those whose feet slips.” People are still doing this, how many times we have known of those who were well-to-do, as far as this world’s goods are concerned, but some calamities intervened, and they lost their means. Some who had appeared to be their friends, suddenly had nothing more to do with them. There are many people in this life who are interested only in what One has, not what one Is. As long as we have things, they are our friends; but when we have little or nothing, we become the object of mockery.

This attitude should never be for the Christians in their relationship with one another. We have a fellowship, a Oneness, that binds us together, making us all One in Christ. The “stronger” is obligated to help the weaker brother. We should gladly help with deeds of kindness one for another, that Christ might be glorified through us. God’s Word states in Galatians 6:10 “As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Christians are to be kind to everyone, but especially to other Christians.

  • Story – A Sergeant in the Army was asked what had led him to become a Christian. He gave the credit to a Private in his Company who had been converted. “We gave that fellow an awful time,” the Sergeant said. “One night he kneeled to pray. My shoes were heavy with mud, and I threw one of them and struck him on his head. The next morning, I found those shoes beautifully cleaned and polished. That was his only reply to me. It broke my heart, and I came to Christ that day,” said the Sergeant. This is what the Lord Jesus desires the Christians to do. Without Christ a man will retaliate and pay back, but if one has really been born again, his attitude will be different said the Sergeant.
  • David L. Mckenna gives a painful description of this fault: “A certain ghoulish glee always attends the downfall of the high and the mighty. Jealous tongues cluck with juicy gossip whenever a great person shows signs of weakness, makes a false move, or experience a failure. Americans, in particular, cannot countenance human weakness in their Leaders. The slightest physical flaw in a President sends the stock market spinning downward and starts the cartoonists’ pencils doodling caricatures that make the person a laughingstock (David L.Mckenna, The Communicator’s Commentary- Job, Word Books, 1986).
  • Unknown Writer – Someone of our day has made a caustic comment: “Christians are the only ones who shoot their wounded.” A lesson we can learn from the Book of Job is how to respond to those who suffer or fall.

People around us are hurting. There are those who feet have slipped on the pathway of life. They do not need others to stand back to criticise and condemn. They need us to stretch out a helping hand, to uplift, to be friends in need. Let us be Encouragers on the road of life, and out prayer be that of Charles Wesley:

Help us to help other, Lord,
Each other’s cross to bear;
Let each his friendly aid afford,
And feel his brother’s care.

Help us to build each other up,
Our little stock improve;
Increase our faith, confirm our hope,
And perfect us in love.

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, lead me today to pray for a friend who is hurting, to speak the word of encouragement to the one whose feet have slipped on the pathway of life.

Endurance (Matthew 24:13)

Lawlessness & Loveless-ness

Matthew 24:12 (KJV) “And because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love (agape) of many shall wax (grow) cold.” – There is a direct connection between lawlessness and loveless-ness. When people become lawless, they become loveless. We often think of love as free, spontaneous that requires no lawless or discipline. This is an incorrect view. Love and discipline go hand-in-hand. And when discipline and law break down, love goes cold. In this somber picture, lawlessness abounding and love goes cold, it is the Love of Christian and not of the world that goes cold. Thus, Love is a matter of Character (Romans 5:1-5).

Then, comes the warning from our Lord Jesus Christ – Matthew 24:13 (KJV) “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:13 – Prophetic preview of the situation that will exist before the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Endurance is that Christian virtue that we need to be able to live through those perilous days (2Timothy 3:1-7).

The word “endure” means an inner fortitude. It expresses the idea of the person having the quality which enables him to withstand all situations/enemies thrown against him, and still have the reserve power to love his enemies (Matthew 5:43-48), being an Overcomer (Revelation 21:7). It speaks of the genuine Christian as the person who possesses the kind of character which will enable him to endure. Such a person will maintain a warm of love for Christ, and Others. He will endure the trials and will thereby prove the genuineness of his faith and spiritual life which he already possesses. This also speaks of the person who holds out even to the point of death.

Mark 13:12-13 “Now brother shall betray brother to death, and the father, his sons; and children shall rise up against their parents and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake; but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” – In the midst of betrayal and lawlessness before the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, proven character is a very essential Christian attribute to develop. Endurance to the end is the requirement that will see us through the perilous time before the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (2Timothy 3:1-7). Sometimes “holding out” is what God expects us to do in tight and difficult situation.

Endurance

Proven Character – Romans 5:1-5 (KJV) “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh (produced) patience. And patience, experience (proven character); and experience (proven character) hope. And hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us.” (James 1:2-4).

Love

Love is the matter of character. The forming of character is through trials (tribulations) – Produces patience (perseverance) and perseverance produces proven character (experience).

  • Bob Monford said, “Suppose there are 10 areas in our character that need to be corrected. The person can probably deal with 6 of them successfully but the remaining 4 needed to be adjusted by others.”
  • Joyful Endurance – Colossians 1:11 “Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering (endurance) with joyfulness.”

It takes strength and patience to be able to suffer long with joyfulness. Patience and endurance are marks of strength.

Inheritance of Promises

Inheritance of Promises – Hebrews 6: 11-12 (KJV) “And we shall that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end. That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience (endurance) inherit the promises.” It takes both faith and endurance (patience) to inherit God’s Promises (Hebrews 10:35-36). If we have done God’s Will and have not yet receive the promise, we need endurance (patience) to hold out from the point that we did God’s Will to the point when we receive His Promise (Hebrews 12:1-2). Ecclesiastes 9:11 “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.” It takes endurance to complete the race that God has set before us.

Apostolic Anointing

2Corinthians 12:12 “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” The first evidence of an Apostolic Anointing is “Patience” (Endurance). The Person with the Apostolic Anointing is the Person who hangs out when everybody gives up.

Two Tests

Matthew 13:19-23 (Parable of the Sower) – There are two kinds of tests:

  • Test of Persecution (hard life) – Matthew 13:20-21.
  • Test of Riches (prosperity) – Matthew 13:22.

Principle of Enduring

Principle of Enduring is the hearted commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ – Acts 11:23 “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cling to the Lord.” And Acts 14: 22 “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorted them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

  • Sees the Invisible – Hebrews 11:27 “By faith he (Moses) forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.” For the Person to hold out he must believe in God and the unseen world (2Corinthians 4:17-18).
  • Moved On – Psalm 37:23-24 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and he delighted in His way. Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD up-holdeth him with His hand.” Face the issue squarely and moved on in life (Luke 22:31-32 – Peter).
  • Rewards – 2Timothy 4:7-8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” We are to keep the faith, fight the fight and finished the course. Paul kept true to the end because he saw the reward that he will receive from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Drunkenness and Stupor (Proverbs 20:1, 19-21, 29-35) (Part 2)

Consequences

Proverbs 23:29-35 shows that being continuously drunk (Proverbs 23:35), resulted in experience of:

  • Woe {Grief, Regret, Misfortune, or Grievous Distress};
  • Sorrow {Despised and Rejected}; Contentions {Quarrels, Arguments, Strife};
  • Babbling {Looseness of Tongue, Complainer};
  • Wounds {Falls, Accidents}; and
  • Redness of Eyes {Dimness of Eyes (Amp. Bible), Progressive Lost of Sight}.” Drunkenness may lead to immorality (Proverbs 23:31, 33 (c/f Proverbs 23:27-28).
  • “Habit-forming addiction”“When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” (Proverbs 23:35b), that destroy families and selves. Being continuously intoxicated, that Person loses his judgement, affects his physical health, like “fatty-liver” which will result in liver-damage, in the long-term; it will also cause stomach inflammation, and the thickening of the stomach lining which reduces the stomach’s ability to absorb nutrients, etc. Usually, the Drunkard is engaged in foolish talk, fighting, loss of self-control (Proverbs 23:29-30). A confused judgement and impaired mental as well as physical vision (Proverbs 23:29), ending being self-deceived as that of being “bitten by the Serpent or Viper.” (Proverbs 23:32).

Examples of Consequences in Old Testament

  • Noah (Genesis 9:21-23) – Noah, being drunk, exposed himself in nakedness (Genesis 9:20-21), resulting in Ham’s Descendants (Canaanites) being cursed, because he (Ham), discussed his father’s (Noah’s) nakedness (Genesis 9:22), instead of covering up his father, “for love covers the multitudes of sins,” (Proverbs 10:12b; 1Peter 4:8b), of which Ham failed (Genesis 9:25). Shem and Japheth were blessed because they covered their father’s (Noah’s) nakedness (Genesis 9:23, 25-27).
  • Lot (Genesis 19:31-36) was drunk and fathered through his daughters, Moab (the father of Moabites) and Benammi (the father of Ammonites) – Enemies of Israel.
  • Isaac had been drinking when he was deceived into blessing Jacob, though God over-ruled in the situation (Genesis 27:25), because Esau sold his First-born Birth-right to Jacob (Genesis 25:29-34). – Hebrews 11:20 “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.”
  • Israel’s Princes – Hosea 7:5 “In the day of our King, Princes have made him sick, inflamed with wine; He stretched out his hand with Scoffers.”
  • Priests and Prophets – Isaiah 28:7 “But they also have erred through wine, and through intoxicating drink……the Priests and the Prophets have erred through intoxicating drink, they are swallowed up by wine, they are out of the way through intoxicating drink they err in vision, they stumble in judgement.”
  • Nabal, whose name means “Fool” was drunk and suffered heart-attack and died 10 days later, smitten of The LORD for his folly against David (1Samuel 25:2-38).
  • Elah, the King of the House of Israel was assassinated while drunk in Tirzah (1Kings 16:8-10).

What is Strong Drink in Biblical Times?

In like manner, “strong drink” (sekar) is raging. Whiskey and wine with high alcoholic content were not discovered until the Middle Ages, it is not appropriate to identify “strong drink” (sekar) as whiskey or similar “strong drink” of today. The “strong drink” in Proverbs 20:1 is “grain wine” or “fruit wine,” prepared from something other than grapes. As with wine (yayin), “strong drink” has the potential to produce drunkenness. When under the influence of “strong drink” (sekar), the Person can become “Raging” (or “Boisterous – Energetic”). The Person who comes under the influence of “strong drink” is “deceived” (who errs) and is not wise, that is the Drunkard fools himself.

Kings & Rulers of the Nation was not allowed to be given to wine or strong drink, lest they drink and forget God’s Law and pervert just judgements – Proverbs 31:4-5 “It is not for Kings, O Lemuel, it is not for Kings to drink wine, nor for Princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert justice of all the afflicted.”

Priests were Forbidden – Leviticus 10:9 (NIV) “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of the Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.”

Medicinal – Proverbs 31:6-7 “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart. Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his misery no more.” Proverbs 31:6-7 is not encouraging drunkenness, or else the whole tenor of the teaching on drunkenness as shown above, from the Bible, would be contradicted. Proverbs 31:6-7 has to be studied contextually. The mother of King Lemuel has just taught his son to refrain from drinking wine and strong drink as it will pervert justice and violate God’s Law (Proverbs 31:4-5). With this context in mind, let us interpret Proverbs 31:6-7 – King Lemuel’s mother was teaching his son how to handle the Afflicted People in his (Lemuel’s) Kingdom:

  • Terminal Sickness – Proverbs 31:6a “Give strong drink to him who is perishing.” – The term “perishing” means to be lost or destroyed – it was understood as dealing with someone in his Kingdom who is suffering greatly with sickness – especially when that sickness is terminal, with great pain. It was a custom of that time to medicate to the dying person, who was in great pain, with strong drink, to help him to overcome his pain – as today, the Doctor administer morphine to the terminal ill Person, in great pain. Thus, it was not an evil act but a merciful act, as it was providing help to the terminal dying Person, in pain, a respite. In most cases, the wine is mixed with gall, which serves as “pain-killing-mixture.”
  • The Bitter Person – Proverbs 31:6b-7 “And wine to those who are bitter of heart, let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” – The second usage of wine for medicinal purpose is for temporary relief for the Person “who is bitter of heart, who have lost something important (loved one) or something valuable,” – this instruction of King Lemuel’s mother is a bit dicey (risky) – it is easy to see the application for the Person who is suffering pain, at the point of death; whereas, for the “bitterness-of-soul,” the application should be weighted, in term of the context of Proverbs 31, as we are in a Section of the Scripture where King Lemuel’s mother has just warned him to refrain from drinking wine and strong drink, as it could cloud his judgement and the violation of God’s Law, in a moment of drunkenness (Proverbs 31:4-5). Therefore, we can be assured that when it comes to the afflicted Person with “bitterness-of-soul,” King Lemuel’s mother is not advocating drunkenness to alleviate the Afflicted Person’s Problem – thus, “NOT drowning One’s sorrows with wine or strong drink.” Rather, what is taught is that ONE {not continuous) drink could temporarily alleviate the Afflicted Person, as Psalm 104:15a states: “Wine makes man’s heart glad,” in the midst of the listing of things that God Himself provides including oil to make the face shine (Psalm 104:15b), food that sustains a man with strength (Psalm 104:15c).
  • Thus, the one drink of wine or strong drink is for medicinal purpose; to lift the afflicted spirit in the time of “bitterness-of-soul,” making the heart glad for a moment, helping the Afflicted Person in his (Lemuel’s) Kingdom. Whereas, today wine or strong drink, is drinking for partying, with the view of getting drunk.  
  • The teaching is Proverbs 31:6-7 is not an encouragement to get drunk, but at the time before the advance of medicinal science, wine or strong drink was used for the medicinal purposes as taught in Proverbs 31:6-7, and we should not read to much into the other interpretation of encouraging drunkenness, as “God puts gladness in our heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.” (Psalm 4:7)

Drunkenness and Stupor (Proverbs 20:1, 19-21, 29-35) (Part 1)

The Statement

Most individual Proverbs contain two Parts, the Second contrasting with the First. Also, in the collection as a whole, one Proverb contrasts with another. Wisdom is the balanced discipline; Wisdom tells us what to avoid and what to seek. When we are advised to avoid something, this implies we should seek its opposite. For example, Proverbs 20:22 – “Do not say, I will pay you back for this wrong! Wait for the LORD, and He will deliver you” (NIV), both discourages vindictiveness and encourages patient and faith. So, some of these verses in chapter 20 belong to either or both Sections:

Things to Avoid

Proverbs chapter 20 teaches us 14 things to avoid: (1) Drunkenness (Proverbs 20:1); (2) Quarrelling (Proverbs 20:2); (3) Laziness (Proverbs 20:4); (4) Sleep and Poverty (Proverbs 20:13); (5) Cheating in Business (Proverbs 20:10); (6) Cheating in General (Proverbs 20:23); (7) Boasting in Bargain (Proverbs 20:14); (8) Deceitfulness (Proverbs 20:17); (9) Ill-Gotten-Gain (Proverbs 20:21); (10) Unsecured Loan (Proverbs 20:16); (11) Tale-Bearer (Proverbs 20:19); (12) Disrespect of Parents (Proverbs 20:20); (13) Vindictiveness (Proverbs 20:22); (14) Rash Commitments (Proverbs 20:25).

Important Point to Note

The teaching below on Drunkenness is not meant to be judgemental and critical of the Person who is struggling with “drink-problem,” but rather to create an awareness of “the consequences” of the “drink-problem.” We need to exercise Christ’s Love to understand and to provide help to the Person who is struggling, in this area.

Drunkenness

Proverbs 20:1 (NIV) “Wine is a Mocker and beer a Brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1 (KJV) “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Justification in the drinking of wine, especially alcoholic wine in the New Testament:

  • Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11).
  • The establishment of The Lord’s Supper with bread and wine (Matthew 26:26-29).
  • Paul’s exhortation to Timothy concerning the taking of a little wine, for his stomach’s sake (1Timothy 5:23).
  • The instructions concerning the Elders and Deacons “not being given to much wine” (1Timothy 3:3, 8).

In balance, the Writer, understands that the Bible does not teach total prohibition or total abstinence from wine, as passages shown above. However, intoxication and drunkenness are strongly condemned both in the O.T & N.T.

Warning against Drunkenness in the New Testament

  • Drunkenness is listed among the 17 Works of the Flesh – Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication…..drunkenness, revelries….”
  • Drunkard shall not inherit the Kingdom of God – 1Corinthians 6:10 “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilvers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God.”
  • Drunkenness is listed alongside with rioting and other evil deeds – Romans 13:13 “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.”
  • Drunkenness is one of the Signs of the Last Day, before Jesus’ Second Coming – Luke 21:34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing (partying), drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly” (Matthew 24:48-51; Luke 12:45; 1Thessalonians 5:7).
  • Drunkenness separates the Believer from the Fellowship of other Believers – 1Corinthians 5:9-13 “I wrote to you in my epistles not to keep company with sexually immoral people…..or a drunkard….”
  • Drunkenness is forbidden to Spirit-filled Believers; and the “Wine of the World” is the counterfeit of the “Wine of the Spirit.” – Ephesians 5:18-19 “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Christian who is controlled by the “spirit of alcoholism” is not controlled by God’s Spirit at the same time, he must make the choice.

Warning against Drunkenness in the Old Testament

  • Drunkenness is associated with Violence – Proverbs 4:17 “For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.”
  • Drunkenness is linked with mocking, raging, and deception and lack of wisdom. The Drunkard is deceived about his condition by his rationalisation – Proverbs 20:1 (KJV) “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
  • Drunkenness results in Poverty – Proverbs 21:17b “He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”
  • Drunkenness is linked with Gluttony and will come to Poverty – Proverbs 23:21 “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness (due to wine) will clothe a man with rags.”
  • Drunkenness leads to Immorality – Proverbs 23:31, 33 “Do not look on the wine when it red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly;…your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things (c/f Proverbs 23:27-28).
  • Drunkenness ends “liken being bitten by a Serpent” and “stung by an Viper” – This could be an indication of something evil about the end result of being Drunken – Proverbs 23:31, 32 “Do not look on the wine when it red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a Serpent, and stings like a Viper.”
  • Drunkenness is Addictive – Proverbs 23:34-35 “Yes, you will be like one, who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”
  • The Final Verdict of Alcoholic-Addiction is that the Person is stricken, beyond feeling, and when he awakes, he seeks it yet again, to be intoxicated – He is bound by his addiction to alcoholic drinks! – “When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” (Proverbs 23:35b)
  • Drunkard is warned with the Sixfold Questions: – Proverbs 23:29:
    • Who has Woe?
    • Who has Sorrow?
    • Who has Contentions?
    • Who has Babbling?
    • Who has Wounds without Cause?
    • Who has Redness of Eyes?
    • The Answer: Proverbs 23:30 “Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine.”
    • The Warning: Proverbs 20:31 “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly.”
    • The Suffering: Proverbs 23:32 “At the last it bites like a Serpent and stings like a Viper.”
    • Separation Required: Proverbs 23:20 “Do not mix with Winebibbers {Drunkards}, or with gluttonous eaters of meat.” – Because “Evil company corrupts good habits.” (1Corinthians 15:33b).

To be continued…. Stay tuned….

Bitterness (Ephesians 4:31-32) (Part 2)

Development

Bitterness accumulates with time. It does not go away but become worse; people do not get less bitter with age or maturity. The person gets more bitter over the years. It gets worse and worse. Bitterness begins with:

  • Hurt – A person who is easily hurt is more likely to get bitter.
  • Resentment – Hurt if not dealt with, will lead to resentment. There is a close relationship between hurt feelings and resentment.
  • Bitterness – Resentment, if not dealt with, will lead to bitterness. Bitterness is resentment held too long. It has become rancid and rotten. If bitterness is kept in, it gets worse.
  • Hatred – Bitterness if not dealt with and kept too long will lead to hatred. There is a clear biblical identification between hatred and murder (1John 3:15).

God’s Warning

Hebrews 12:15 (NKJV) “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” God’s Word describes bitterness as:

  • Fall short of God’s Grace – This is God’s warning of the possibility of falling short from God’s Grace. To fall short of God’s Grace is to fall on the ground of the Law. God deals with Individual either on ground of (1) Law, or (2) Grace. We cannot be on both grounds (Law & Grace) at the same time. After experiencing God’s Grace, it is unthinkable to fall short of God’s Grace.
  • Root of bitterness – Root of bitterness is the very essence of bitterness – root is something that is underground and cannot be seen. But there can be visible evidence of its presence, as when it surfaces. The fruit that is brought forth bears a direct relation to the root producing it, it bears bitter fruit.
  • Trouble –Bitterness generally never destroys the person who has done the wrong, bitterness destroys the person who is bitter, even if the offended person is innocent. Bitterness causes trouble, physical (sickness, lost of sleep), emotional (unstable, mental breakdown) and ultimately spiritual (backslidden, not in harmony with God and men).
  • Defile – The tragedy is that the “root of bitterness” not only troubles the person involved but it also defiles the people around the bitter person, “the “many” become defiled by its fruit (bitterness). We have seen bitterness goes through the home, church, office and work place.

Every person, without exception, will pass through bitter experience, but the Individual should not allow the bitter experience into his spirit, if there is the spiritual exercise before God concerning this experience. Bitterness will either bring about a broken and contrite spirit (Isaiah 66:2; Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 34:18; Psalm 51:17), or else it brings a root of bitterness in the spirit. We must watch against these roots, subterraneous roots, from taking root in our spirit.

Demonic Wisdom

James 3:14-15 (NIV) “But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, un-spiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:14-15). If an Individual harbours bitterness, evil practice will result. It does not come from heaven. It is straight from the pit of hell and is demonic, – as it is, it is a real problem!

Grieves the Holy Spirit

Bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 4:30-31 (NKJV) “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Solution

In order to get rid of bitterness the person must:

  • Acknowledges – The person needs to recognise that he has bitterness in his heart and bring it to the surface. The temptation is to look at the Offender and what was done. That is the nature of bitterness. In order to get rid of it, the person needs to recognise that it is his problem before he can forgive, confess and forsake it.
  • Recognises – That bitterness does not please God and result in self-harm. Again, the reason the person does not deal with his bitterness is that he thinks it is the other persons who is wrong, and needs to apologise, which may be true, but it does not help. Only forgiveness of the offend and the person is the answer.
  • Confession & Forgiveness – The person who is bitter must not keep sharing it. The only thing that gets rid of bitterness is to forgive and plea the Blood of Jesus for cleansing and covering; acknowledging that he has experienced God’s Forgiveness through the Finished Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Resist Self-Justification – In our talk with God (prayer), the person should resist giving excuses for being bitter, i.e. reminding God that the person who offended him is at fault and that he has the right to be bitter. The person has to get his eyes of the other person’s fault and focus on releasing the bitterness to God and the healing from God.

Amy Carmichael has a note in her little book: “For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted. If it is full of sweet water and is jolted, what will come out of the cup? Sweet water. If you gave it a harder jolt, what’s going to happen? More sweet water.”  If someone is filled with sweet personality and someone else gives him a jolt, what will come out? Sweet Attitude. Jolts do not turn sweet personality into bitter personality. That is done by something else.

Bitterness in the Congregation is a major hindrance to Revival. When Christians start to forgive and confess their sins, they will be able to receive forgiveness from God and a personal victory over the work of the flesh and the enemy.

Bitterness (Ephesians 4:31-32) (Part 1)

Scripture

Ephesians 4:31-32“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Question

“Is it possible to be kind, compassionate, tender-hearted and yet bitter at the same time?” All these are Attitudes. It is not possible to be tender-hearted and yet bitter.  Paul says to get rid of all bitterness and to be kind and compassionate one to another. Bitterness cannot co-exist with tender-heartedness.

God’s Word

God’s Word commanded us to get rid of all bitterness. Many people “enjoyed” holding things against other people, but God’s Word requires us to let go of all bitterness and maintain a tender heart.  There are many people who:

  • Not only are bitter.
  • They enjoy being bitter.
  • They somehow like it.
  • They feed on it.

A bitter person would not know what to do if he gets rid of bitterness; he would not have a purpose for his life. We know of people like that in the world, and we know people like that in the Church. It is easy to recognize when somebody is bitter

  • His eyes and the lines of the face reveal it. It can be seen in his face even when he is smiling and laughing.
  • The tone of his voice reveals it. You can hear it when he protests that he is not bitter.
  • The bitterness is central and pervades everything, his personality, speech, body language and his physical appearance.

It is relatively easy to detect when a person is bitter. But it is not so easy to see it in ourselves. It is therefore important to have a good understanding of what cause bitterness and the results that bitterness produce.

Definition

Bitterness is what a person feels when offended, whether real or imagined, against him. The very definition of bitterness points to the action of another. Bitterness is based on the offence or situation that relates to someone close to us.  It is not concerned with how big the offence is; it is based upon how close the person is. Bitterness is related to those people who are close, for example: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children, relatives – grandparents, uncles, mothers-in-law, fathers–in-law, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, boyfriends, girlfriends, roommates, close friends, business partners, church leaders. There are also people who are bitter against God (Naomi – Ruth 1:13b, 20-21; Jonah).We get offended but not bitter against people who are outside our immediate contact. Bitterness is based upon somebody’s offence who is close to us and who did something to us. It might be minor. It does not have to be great, it just has to be close.

Remember Details

One of good rule of thumb is this: “Bitterness remembers details.”

  • Accumulates – The offence may occur 5 years ago, but the person who is offended and is bitter remembers every word and detail of the offence. Bitterness accumulates.
  • Review – How can a person remembers every detail of the happening – his memory is helped by review, review and more review of the offence. He mulls over the hurts. A person normally goes over the thing that hurt him.
  • Right and Wrong – The person will concentrate on “how right” he is and “how wrong” the other person who hurts him was. Look what he did to me!

Imaginary Offence – Many times a person can be bitter toward another person for what he said, when in reality he misunderstood of what was said, or has not been said. Many bitter people cannot imagine the possibility that they are bitter over imaginary offences. As far as bitterness is concerned, the other person’s offence is always real. Genuine Offence – There are many bitter people who really were mistreated by the Offender.

To be continued….. Stay Tuned……

The Importance of Words (Proverbs 18) (Part 2)

The Gossiper

Proverbs 18:8 (NIV) “The words of the gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s innermost parts.” Gossipers is worse than the Fool because he does not blunder into trouble with his eyes shut, he really means to cause it.

  • Gossip is forbidden by the Law – Leviticus 19:16 (NIV) “Do not go about spreading slander among the people.”
  • Gossip divides friendship – Proverbs 16:28 (NIV) “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separate close friends.”
  • The Listener to malicious gossip is as “wicked” as the person who speaks – Proverbs 17:4 (NIV) “A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue.

The way rumours are received is graphically described in Proverbs 18:8 – they are like “choice morsels,” those titbits which do not need chewing or stick in the throat but slip easily “down into a man’s innermost parts” (“inner room”). A person finds no difficulty in concentrating on the gossip’s tale, he laps it up. Nor the person finds it hard to remember indeed the term (literally) “inner rooms” has the sense of storeroom where things are retained to be brought out later. In this way the Listener to gossip assists the Gossiper in carrying out his “trade.”

A Wise Man

Proverbs 18:4 (NIV) “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” The two parts of Proverbs 18:4, as often with Book of Proverbs, are parallel, so that it is “the words of……wisdom” that are here in view throughout:

Verse 4a Speaks of the Source – It comes from the Depth of the Person’s heart and is therefore like “deep waters” – Proverbs 20:5a (NIV) “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters.” Wisdom is Deep (Job 28), it is what God is (Romans 11:33).The Person who is taught by God’s Word is admitted into His (God’s) Counsel which “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,” but which “God has revealed….to us by His Spirit” (1Corinthians 2:9).

Verse 4b Describes the “Communication” of this Wisdom, which is compared not to an Ocean or well but “the Fountain” from which flows a “bubbling brook.” This is how others come to benefit from “the Depth of the Wisdom and Knowledge” of God that the Wise Person has. This brings refreshing and revive those he speaks to:

  • Proverbs 10:11a (NIV) “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.”
  • Proverbs 13:14a (NIV) “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.”

Apostle Paul exhorts: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” – meditate deeply upon it – then, “Let your conversation be always full of grace” (Colossians 3:16; 4:6).

The Wise Person Acquires WisdomProverbs 18:15 (NIV) “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15 tells us how this ability to speak wisely is acquired. It takes us back to the First Nine Chapters of Book of Proverbs, which are chiefly an encouragement to cultivate Wisdom. Proverbs 18:15 is the good summary of the teaching and exhortation of Proverbs Chapters 1 to 9:

  • Cultivates a discerning heart by appreciating the Value of Knowledge. This is what the Parents try to cultivate by their patient instruction, part of which is to praise wisdom above all else (Proverbs 3:13-18; Proverbs 4:5-7; Proverbs 7:21-27; 8; Proverbs 9:10).
  • Approaches it with earnestness, “seek it out,” do not wait for it to come to us. Knowledge lies deep down in the heart of the people and has to be carefully “surfaced” by being a Good Listener – “Ears of the wise seek it out.”
  • Gives it rapt attention – the heart will not acquire it unless the ears listen to it with concentration in order to understand and retain it.

Final Words…… Power of Words

Power of WordsProverbs 18:20-21 (NIV) “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips, he is satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” The Power of Words for good or evil has already been illustrated in the above Verses. Here it is shown forth as “the Fruit.” A person must realise the consequence (fruit) of his words. There is great satisfaction in speaking what is true, edifying, informative, understanding, instructive, sympathetic, comforting and even rebuking that brings forth life. Whereas lies, misinformation, cursing, boasting, vilifying (defamatory) beings forth death. Each person must give an account for every careless word spoken – Matthew 12:36 “But I say to you that for every idle word men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement.”