Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"God is watching … and that's a good thing!"

Day #201:  Daily Bible Reading - July 17th

Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 11 - 12 …

God sees everything you do, He hears everything you say and knows everything you think.  David writes in Psalm 139:  "O LORD, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD" (139:1-4).  That causes fear to rise in the hearts of those who don't know God's grace and mercy in Jesus, but for those who know Him, it is comforting to know that God is watching.  Only the fool ignores the fact that we all live every moment of every day in view of God's gaze.

David goes on to say, "If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You" (Psalm 139:11-12).  For David, and for all who know God as their Savior, their Rock, their Refuge, this is a wonderful thought, but for others the idea of a God who watches and who knows all that they say and do is something they would rather not think about.  It's easier to doubt the existence of God or to make up a different "god" who does not interfere in our lives, but leaves us alone to do our own thing and go our own way … a god we can call on if we need him, perhaps, but who otherwise just leaves us alone.

Accountability is not something most people want, but Solomon understood that all men are accountable to God.  In his writings in Proverbs and in Ecclesiastes, Solomon clearly declares that God sees, God knows and that words and actions carry with them consequences.  That's why he concludes his Ecclesiastes with these words:  "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).  Too many people today forget that we will ALL stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:  "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (II Corinthians 5:10).

Thank God that through faith in Jesus Christ those of us who have been saved by grace know that Jesus paid our debt and God no more remembers our sins.  God will not bring up our sins on that day when we stand before Him, for they are covered by the blood of Jesus.  Yet, those things done in the name of the Lord and for the glory of God will receive a reward … amazing as that is, for we will have earned nothing in God's sight.  Our salvation is utterly and totally by grace alone, yet God's grace extends to rewarding those deeds done out of love for Him.

Our reading today, then, and over the coming weeks as we go through Proverbs, points out that there is a difference between the "righteous" and the "wicked."  Those who desire to live a righteous life because the Spirit of God is at work within them will live in one way, for their hope is in the Lord … while those who do not have the Spirit of God within them will live to glorify themselves, or in wickedness, to please themselves and others, with no thought of giving glory to God.  Even those who do good things to be noticed by others, without any regard for God, do so with wrong motives and will ultimately face His judgment.

Solomon writes in Proverbs 11 of those who pursue unjust gain and who desire worldly wealth.  With dishonesty and greed and pride they believe they are the masters of their own fate and do whatever is necessary to gain what they desire.  But Solomon says, "Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death" (11:4).  And in verse 19:  "The truly righteous man attains life, but he who pursues evil goes to his death."  "The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath" (11:23).  Jesus told us to "lay up treasures in heaven" and those who know God and love Him will not pursue the things of the world.   They will have contentment and peace of mind, as Paul says in Philippians 4, whether have little or plenty ... because they have CHRIST!

I love Solomon's imagery when he says things like, "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf" (11:28).  It is similar to what we read in Psalm 1 as God describes the righteous as being "like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. ... Not so the wicked!  They are like chaff that the wind blows away. ... For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish" (1:3-6).  Those who know that God watches over them rejoice in HIM and in His providence.  So Solomon begins Chapter 12:  "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid" (12:1).

Yes, that's in the Bible!  Knowing God and knowing He is watching over you means knowing how much you NEED His wisdom, His guidance AND His discipline and correction.  We know that through faith in Jesus God sees us as righteous in Christ, but we also know that we are not yet perfect and we need God to continue His work in us in order to conform us to the image of Christ.  God does that through His Word and through His discipline in our lives.  The writer of Hebrews says, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11).  God desires to produce righteousness in His people and Proverbs describes what that righteousness looks like.

Proverbs 12 talks about the importance of words and work!  "The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them" (12:6).  "He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment" (12:11).  How you speak reveals what is in your mind and heart, and what is in your mind and heart leads to fruitful labor, not selfish laziness.  All of life goes together for the righteous.  One part affects every other part.  In verse 14, Solomon puts words and work together:  "An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble.  From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him."

Solomon ends Proverbs 12 by declaring, "In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality" (12:28).  As you read through all of the truth found in Solomon's proverbs, don't miss the "big picture."  Proverbs is part of what we call "wisdom literature" ... but it's so much more than that.  God's wisdom is revealed to those who seek Him, who know that He is watching ... and that's a good thing.  Seek Him, ask Him to teach you as His Spirit works in you, "seek first His kingdom AND His righteousness" and He will give you all you need today ... and when this life is over, eternal life in His presence!

"O Lord, my God, in Your Word is wisdom, for in Your Word You reveal the path of righteousness.  Apart from You there is no life, for only in knowing You can I discern the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, wickedness and righteousness, life and death!  I thank You for watching over me, for revealing Your truth to me, for teaching me that words and actions have consequences ... and I praise You for saving me from the just rewards of my sin through the perfect righteousness of Jesus, my Savior ... and, my Lord!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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